Introducing Dan DaCunha
URI Theatre | By Lauren Mazzola
This week, I had the great pleasure of interviewing alumni Dan DaCunha, who graduated from URI in 2007 with an acting degree. DaCunha was thrilled to reflect on his time at URI, and to talk about his fascinating experiences working in Hollywood as a movie and television Script Coordinator/Writer.
After graduating from URI DaCunha moved to the west coast where he was able to work in writers’ departments in Hollywood on shows such as Rules of Engagement, Baby Daddy, Welcome to the Family, and most recently, Entourage: The Movie where he got to write scenes for some big star cameos.
Currently, DaCunha is staying busy as a script coordinator and writer; working in the same position on season two of TNT’s The Last Ship, and writing a feature length animated film that will soon be going into production. The URI alum is also finishing up a script that is being considered by a company that collaborates with Martin Scorcese.
As a script coordinator, DaCunha has opportunities to write and pitch his own material in the stories he is working on at the time, but his main role is to be a fixer. “You have to make the script production-friendly so that it can be easily worked off of for filming. You also track storylines and make sure everything lines up whether it is history, terminology, or character motivation. I’m basically the ‘script-keeper,’ nobody sees a script without my say,” he explained.
DaCunha explained that the extensive hands-on training gained from the theatre department prepared him to work in the entertainment industry, “Regardless of your major, you still get the experience working on every aspect of a production and that is so important in the outside world.” He then explained that URI prepared him for multiple fields, “URI helped prepare me in so many ways but I think what applies most directly in my current position is the work you do in analyzing plays, characters, themes and emotion. There is a lot of time spent studying the all important ‘why?’”
At the start of his URI career, the successful script coordinator was actually a mechanical engineer major, who wanted to build roller coasters. “It was then that I realized I sucked at math,” said DaCunha, “I failed out, I got F’s in my major courses and one A, in Theatre 100,” where he was cast to play the lead role in their show.
Following his Theatre 100 performance, his T.A., Matt Hobin, asked him to audition for a play he was directing as part of his major requirement. After getting the part he was talked into auditioning for a main stage show, A Midsummer Night’s Dream directed by Bryna Wortman and received that role too. After successfully starring in three different productions DaCunha thought, “I suck at math. I’m good at this. Everyone here is awesome. What the hell? I’ll be an acting major.” He now writes movies and television and couldn’t be happier.
DaCunha was happy to give advice to students involved with or interested in theatre. “Never hold back and never, ever grow up. Be Peter Pan but don’t suppress your Captain Hook either. Just let your imagination run wild… then write it down. As Tony Estrella so eloquently put it my junior year; acting is the art of self-humiliation. You can’t be a toe in the water actor and I think that applies to every aspect of production. It’s great; in what other field can you make a career of playing make-believe and making a fool of yourself? Embrace it!”