The one question I knew I wasn’t going to ask the team behind THE DUNNING MAN was the one about that Oscar™-winning film that shares a name with DUNNING MAN’s director/screenwriter, Michael Clayton.
Instead, when I spoke with Clayton, writer Kevin Fortuna, editor Ian Blume by phone on March 6, 2017, I started the conversation by asking Fortuna what it was like entrusting his acclaimed short story to Clayton to turn into a feature film. We went on to talk about the correspondences between Clayton’s native New Orleans and Atlantic City, where the film is set, though parts were film in The Big Easy; the presence of the past, where Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need went wrong; and creating personas.
We finished up with Michael explaining why Kevin took over the music in the film and how he worked back channels with Spider Stacy and Brent Butler; whether there are more adaptations from Fortuna’s short story collection; and the lessons learned from being a first-time director.
Based on the short story written by Fortuna, THE DUNNING MAN is a quirky and cautionary tale of love, money, and the dangers of renting to Chechen show folk. This is the revelation for Connor, a young man who has just lost his well-heeled girlfriend in New York, and now finds himself back to where he started in Atlantic City. There, he tries to keep his head above water renting downscale apartments to a lively group of tenants that includes Alice, a feisty single mother and her wise, but not precocious, daughter; Stryker, a rapper in seclusion between best-selling albums; and an iffy group of acrobats with a penchant for dressing up in plush, and for solving business problems with brute force. As Connor negotiates the subtleties of low-finance, he discovers a new relationship to the past and a changed perspective on the future. The film stars James Carpinello, Dawn-Lyen Gardner, Nicoye Banks, Tom Kemp, Langston Fishburne, and Lindsey Blackwell. Clayton directed from his own script, and the film was edited by Blume.