As a young man, Jon Gunn never imagined himself working in film.
Despite attending Ithaca College in up-state New York and studying cinema and photography, he thought musical theory would be his lifeâ€™s work.
â€œI minored in musical theory, but when I was younger I always thought I would be a composer,â€ Gunn, who is now a writer, director, editor and producer.
Now, at the age of 37, Gunnâ€™s third directorial adventure has become more rewarding than any other project heâ€™s done.
â€œLike Dandelion Dust,â€ based on the novel by Karen Kingsbury, will premiere at 7:30 p.m. Saturday as the gala feature film of the TriMedia Film Festival.
The film, which centers on a couple reuniting and struggling to regain custody of their child, has garnered a lot of early attention before its full theatrical release. Awards include the Vail International Film Festival Audience Award for Best Film 2009 and the Heartland Film Festivalâ€™s award for Audienceâ€™s Choice Best Drama 2009.
Throughout the production of the film, Gunn said, the subject matter hit closer and closer to home.
â€œThis film is about parenthood, itâ€™s about families struggling,â€ Gunn said.
Gunn watched his daughter grow throughout the production and by the time he finished the final cut, his daughter was the same age as the child â€“â€“ played by Maxwell Perry Cotton â€“â€“ in the film.
â€œI wasnâ€™t a father when I set out to make this film, but I became one during the course of the film. Itâ€™s amazing how things looks when you have child,â€ Gunn said.
Gunn hopes his simplistic approach to directing captures the emotionality of the project.
â€œYou have to have a focus; you have to have a central core or theme and build around that,â€ Gunn said. â€œWhatâ€™s the least you can do accomplish something big. In movies, less is more.â€
The project, which took Gunn more than three years of production and post production became a labor of love, in particular the casting of the film.
â€œThe casting took over a year. Everyone had a voice, but casting in particular was important,â€ he said.
â€œLike Dandelion Dustâ€ stars Mira Sorvino, Barry Pepper, Cole Hauser and Kate Levering.
â€œI wanted a cast that felt like they belonged. Casting is really, really critical,â€ Gunn said. â€œWhen you get the right people it makes all the difference, and if you donâ€™t, youâ€™ll be fighting that all the way through production.â€
Gunnâ€™s breakout film came in 2004 and with a budget of $1,100, he shot the Indie breakout â€œMy Date with Drew.â€ The film centered on star Brain Herzinglerâ€™s quest to get a date with his longtime crush Drew Barrymore.
Using the resources they had, Gunnâ€™s film went on to gross more than $180,000 in theaters.
There are no limitations in film anymore, he said. He believes that with new technologies and the low price of equipment, that anyone compelled to create film should.
â€œI always tell people to make their own opportunities and make projects you love.â€
Gunn will not be in attendance Saturday night; instead he will be celebrating his daughterâ€™s birthday. Producer Bobby Downes will be in attendance and host a post-screening Q & A.
Gunnâ€™s next project will be an animated feature for DreamWorks Animation starring Seth Rogen entitled Boo U. The film will follow ghosts at college as they harness their scare skills.
In his movie career, Gunn has tasted both big budget and low budget films and, despite the differences with both, he feels there is one constant.
â€œEvery film is different, different genres, different experiences, but you gain a confidence in storytelling,â€ he said.
_Staff writer Sean Bucher can be reached at email@example.com. _
â€œLike Dandelion Dustâ€
7:30 p.m. at the Lory Student Center Theater
TriMedia Film Festival: today, Saturday
For movie times and locations visit: www.trimediafestival.org