From humble beginnings, Jon Dunham has won critical acclaim for his last three documentary films while building his reputation in the industry.
In an exclusive Zoom interview, Dunham talks about his three films and his upcoming projects, while coping with COVID-19 with his family in Naples, Southern Italy.
Dunham began, “Actually, as we do this interview, you may hear some noise! I have my three-year-old son in the other room; we’re all locked down here as a family, so it has been a real challenge.”
He continued “It is definitely frustrating. We live in Southern Italy where the climate is beautiful and we’re used to being outside and enjoying the outdoors and not being able to do that it is really rough. It has been a big adjustment and we’re just taking it one day at a time.”
He noted, “This whole lockdown here in Italy is handled in different ways in different regions. It’s been really frustrating for us as a family not being able to get outside and exercise when there are people in other parts of Italy that can.”
I asked him how long has it been since lock-down? “
That is a good question, you go through this after a while and everything starts to blur together. It started at the end of February and beginning of March.”
He remembers going for a 15km run around the city and the next day the lockdown happened.
Dunham describes Naples, which is Southern Italy’s largest city as, “…a city of about a million people and very densely populated; it’s really urban, it’s a port city so we’re right on the waterfront and that is a nice place to visit when you can and there are some really nice parks.”
Dunham has produced three award-winning films – Spirit of the Marathon, Spirit of the Marathon II, and BOSTON.
He explains how his filmmaking passion began by saying “It all started with my first film, Spirit of the Marathon, which as a marathon runner, it was a project that was really personal to me and something that I felt very passionate about.”
He continues “I really only had the idea to make one film about the marathon that I was going to make other films but I was very fortunate with the Spirit of the Marathon; it was very successful both critically as well as financially. It had a theatrical release and it earned a fair amount of money and that put me in the advantageous position of having people that were interested in what I was doing and available somewhat to finance future projects. It was actually Spirit of the Marathon II that really brought me to Italy.”
He goes on to mention “We chose to make the film around the Rome marathon when I was living in Rome during the production and just totally fell in love with Italy and wanted to stay and so that’s a really important production to me personally and then actually it was during that film that I had already started to think, well I’m making a second marathon film, maybe I should just round out the trilogy and make a third and make it something really special. I wanted to make a film about the Boston marathon and its history and its importance to running.”
He say’s “I started to think further down the road to the future and how the 2014 race the year after the bombings was really going to be extremely important and meaningful to the race and the city and everybody involved and I thought, well, somebody should really document this and why shouldn’t that be me. I decided to move forward with it and the Boston Athletic Association eventually agreed (we would) work together. It is a film about the Boston marathon that I always wanted to make.”
Dunham is working on a number of different projects. “I’m actually working on a film about Napoli, which is a fast city, arguably Italy’s most colorful city. It’s also a very controversial city because it’s beautiful and yet it’s chaotic; it’s often misunderstood.”
As the interview wrapped up, he added, “I’m starting the development of a new project again here close to Naples, some ancient papyrus scrolls that were buried in the eruption of Vesuvius that is most famously known for destroying the city of Pompeii. I am also just starting the development of another Italian related project which is about the story of Enzo Ferrari and the Ferrari legacy.”