Eric Dunn: Six Second Success

After his trip to Los Angeles to film a TV show pilot, FAU junior Eric Dunn sat down to discuss how he took his typical college experience and began a social media enterprise in just two years.


Mohammed F Emran | Web Editor

Emily Creighton, Features Editor

March 2013, nearing the end of his sophomore year at Florida Atlantic, Eric Dunn came across a short, online clip that immediately piqued his interest. “I didn’t really know what it was, so I asked the person who posted it.”

“It” was Vine — essentially the video equivalent to Twitter, where you’re limited to six-second clips. “I thought it was cool, so I downloaded the app and I just started making my own videos.”

He went on to post his first video from his FAU bedroom on April 1, 2013 and, with a variety of skits, voice-overs, and comedic takes on everyday life, quickly gained popularity. But it wasn’t until he posted a satirical Vine featuring himself running shirtless through what could be considered a “white neighborhood” and laughing about stealing,  that the views, or “loops,” really started coming in, according to Dunn.

“I was a class clown in every grade. And now I’m glad I was because it worked out for the best,” he says.

Currently, with 2.9 million followers on Vine, 204,000 subscribers on YouTube and 124,000 Twitter followers, the FAU business management major has turned a humorous pastime into a budding career in the entertainment industry.

Capture24Since his first post, Dunn has gotten to travel the nation, collaborating with other online stars and earning his place at the top of social media success. He even has the 49th largest Vine following, ranking closely behind Justin Bieber who falls at No. 47, according to Rankzoo, a website that compares Viners based on followers and loops.

“I was never expecting it. I was just making [the videos] for fun and it just blew up,” Dunn said. “I was shocked when I hit 100,000 [followers]. I stayed up all night waiting for my number to hit 100,000 and now I’m at like three million — it’s great!”

Dunn’s campus celebrity is reflected in the Twitter posts of incoming FAU freshmen who write that they hope to catch a glimpse of Dunn who is almost always sporting FAU wear. “I’m tryna go to FAU because Eric Dunn,” reads one, while another says, “I got accepted to UF but I’m going to FAU just because of Eric Dunn.” There is no doubt that Dunn has become one of the university’s main attractions. He once posted, “Being Eric Dunn at FAU is dope [sic] not gonna lie to y’all peeps.”

For the most part though, the 21-year-old keeps himself grounded. He says he hates the phrase “Vine famous,” that he’s just a regular guy. “I just like being called … Eric,” he said during his interview, making light of his extraordinary situation.

His friends also have nothing but admiration for his success and many, including fellow FAU students Roman Cenizal, Morgan Hill and Nick Arena to list a few, partake in the creative process.  “My friends love it. They want to be in every Vine. I’m like, ‘Do you guys have any good ideas?’”

Mohammed F Emran | Web Editor
Mohammed F Emran | Web Editor

Cenizal said, “Eric is a very business-minded person and it’s crazy how much success he’s had with Vine and social media in general. He’s one of the most creative people I know and I’m positive he will have a great future in the entertainment industry.”

Family-wise though, Dunn feels the sentiment isn’t matched. “They don’t support it as much,” he said when asked about his parents’ take on his internet success. “But they say if I’m having fun and I’m making money from it, then I should keep doing it.” He compared the payment process to that of a sponsored athlete. Companies — like the Whisper app, which he has posted about before — ask Dunn to promote their product or service and compensate him in return.

But, Dunn’s father, Bruce — who manages studios as a Supervisor of Production Operations for ESPN and produces video and broadcast media content as CEO of DUNN Enterprises of Central Florida, Inc. — is no stranger to the entertainment industry. He believes that his son has already “created success” and hopes that he will turn it into a multi-million dollar business one day.

Capture23Now Dunn’s posts on Vine have, on average, upwards of a million views each. But, with such a large viewership comes a lot of attention, and while it has its perks, mostly revolving around the party scene – Dunn and company are no strangers to Boca’s infamous club, Night Owl – there are some downsides.

“[The attention is] fun, but it gets annoying sometimes because sometimes you just want to chill and mind your own business, but people are like, ‘Yo, can I get a picture?’ or whatever. It’s hard trying to have time for yourself, but I like it,” he explains. The partying and photo opps aren’t stopping Dunn from thinking about his enterprise in the making though.

Along with his YouTube videos and music parodies, Dunn has become a jack-of-all-trades. In fact, his song “Eat Yo Ass,” a parody of Usher’s “Lovers and Friends,” made the iTunes R&B Top 10 in July 2014. Most recently, Dunn flew out to Los Angeles to start filming a new television show called “Meatheads,” which he will star in alongside Chase Hauck, Robby Ayala, Manon Matthews and Hannah Pilkes.

Mohammed F Emran | Web Editor
Mohammed F Emran | Web Editor

With the Vine star-filled cast, Dunn was excited for the new opportunity and open to the prospect of moving to the small screen.

“This producer came to me and Robby [Ayala] last summer about it, just saying he wanted to do the show with FAU students because he saw our chemistry and all the Vines we did here on campus. And I didn’t think it was gonna happen, but then he recently just came to us last semester and said, ‘We have the funding for the show. We have the budget. We want to fly you guys out here and shoot this thing,’” recalled Dunn.

They wrapped filming of the pilot episode in January. The show was described as a sitcom similar to the show “Workaholics” by castmate and FAU senior Chase Hauck.

“It’s a lot like that type of humor, just with two personal trainers that are airheads, complete idiots. And then there are two girls [Matthews and Pilkes], who are from Vine as well, and they kind of like keep us together — they’re the smart ones. Then, there’s Eric who is another personal trainer that we just now hired, but he does his own thing a little bit,” shared Hauck.

“On set is so much better [than Vine],” answered Dunn when asked about what his experience filming “Meatheads” was like. “Bigger cameras, lights, the clapper guy, makeup and a script. It’s so much different and a lot more fun. It’s just weird because unlike Vine you can’t play back some scenes to see how well you acted, you have to just go off of the director’s opinion.”

The show, which is intended for the stars’ virtual audiences, is set to air online mid-February.  As for now, Dunn continues to work on getting a degree from FAU and developing his professional career. “I want to be an actor and go into entertainment,” Dunn said. “I’m hoping this TV show jumps off and we can shoot more episodes and then, from that, go onto other opportunities that come up.”