Sean Dunne is a self-confessed nerd and movie director from New York. He loves records and filming commercials, and is the man behind the mightly popular short movie called “The Archive”. The ten minute film was an internet sensation and drew praise from critics at the Sundance Festival. The idea was simple to introduce the world to Paul Mawhinney, the world’s largest record collector. Yet even he would not have predicted the success of the project and the impact it would have on the young film maker.
So with this in mind, it was with great pleasure i was granted an interview for Word Is Bond:
1. First, off with a name like Sean Dunne, you got to have some Irish in you, yet i hear you’re from Brooklyn?
I was born and raised in New York but my family is from Ireland. I was actually just looking at the Irish census from 1901 and found my great grandfather’s house on St. Lawrence Road in Dublin. I love that all that can be traced. I last visited Ireland in 2004 and connected with some family over there. I really love it there and hope to be able to spend some more time there when my life calms down a little.
2. How did you first come across Paul Mawhinney?
I read a few articles about Paul when he was trying to sell his collection on eBay a few years back. I was fascinated by his story. He thought he had sold the collection to a bidder but it turned out that it was a fake bid placed from a public library. It was a heartbreaking story so I gave Paul a call and arranged to make the film.
3. Despite it being only your first attempt, the piece is remarkably well made. Was it expensive to shoot?
The whole production cost around $1500…concept to completion. These days it doesn’t take much to make something beautiful, as long as you have a solid vision for the thing.
4. Were you surprised with the way the film took off in popularity?
Actually I was. I figured it would get a little attention on the internet because of the subject matter and the fact that we really took the time to make it look good, but never did I expect it to take off the way it did. This film ended up changing my life and my career. I would have never imagined that in my wildest dreams when we were shooting it.
5. Many record stores are closing, such as the one in “The Archive”. Yet there is still a large amount of hip-hop fans who like to record dig. Do you believe vinyl is dying?
I think vinyl actually did die for a while there but it seems to be coming back from the dead, like a zombie. Stronger than ever and hungry for the brains of our youth.
6. What would be your advice to people looking to get into the film industry? What are the practical steps a person could take to get started?
Make films. Like I said, it is cheap and easy these days. There is no better practice than actually making films. Choose subjects that interest you and let your passion come across in the film. If you’re good at it you’ll be noticed, trust me.
7. When you were in a room with a record collection that size did you come across anything not captured on film which took you by surprise?
It was kind of hectic. We shot the whole thing in 6 hours, so most of the time was spent interviewing Paul and composing shots. But I did get a couple chances to snoop around and look for rare records that I had never seen in person. The one that comes to mind is Pacific Ocean Blue by Dennis Wilson. I had never seen a physical copy of that LP. It appealed to the inner music nerd in me.
Since the film Paul has sent me a few 45’s that I couldn’t find anywhere else including the “I’m Alive” single by Johnny Thunder with “Verbal Expressions of TV” as the b-side. I used “I’m Alive” as the final song in my film “Man In Van” and “Verbal Expressions of TV” as the last song in my latest film “The Bowler”. That was kind of my way of paying Paul a little tribute and tying all the films together. I’m a f**king nerd.
8. What did Mr. Mawhinney make of all the DJ’s who tried to contact him after the film?
I’m not sure; we’ve never really spoken about it. My guess is that he liked the attention.
9. What is your own opinion on MP3 versus vinyl?
I’m kind of torn. I have around 500 records. Not a huge collection, just the albums I really like. But at the same time I hate having stuff, especially stuff that takes up so much space. It stresses me out. This is why MP3’s appeal to me. They don’t take up any space.
10. Have you got any plans to film more pieces like “The Archive” or “The Bowler”?
Absolutely. This is what I love doing and I have a ton of things coming up. Stay tuned kids.