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No Ordinary Scream Queen: Danielle Harris Talks ‘Hatchet III’ And Directorial Work

No Ordinary Scream Queen: Danielle Harris Talks ‘Hatchet III’ And Directorial Work

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You know her, you love her and the horror industry wouldn’t be the same without her — she is legendary scream queen Danielle Harris. This brunette bombshell has grown up right before our eyes on television and the silver screen, establishing herself as on of the most dynamic actors in the business. Never afraid to experiment or to follow her keen instincts when it comes to a role, Danielle continues to surprise her fans with each new project. Her latest endeavor is no exception to that rule, as she closes out the wildly popular ‘Hatchet’ franchise alongside creator/writer Adam Green and director BJ McDonnell. ‘Hatchet III’ continues the tale of the now-iconic villain Victor Crowley, played by genre favorite Kane Hodder, and ramps up the action to bring this epic tale of terror to a close. The film As a search and recovery team heads into the haunted swamp to pick up the pieces and carnage left behind from the first two films, Marybeth (Danielle Harris) hunts down the true secret to ending the voodoo curse that has left the ghost of Victor Crowley haunting and terrorizing Honey Island Swamp for decades.

The action doesn’t stop there for Danielle as prepares to unleash the next exciting chapter of her career! In her directorial debut, Harris has enlisted some of her very talented friends. “Among Friends,” written by Alyssa Lobit and produced by Jennifer Blanc-Biehn and Athena Lobit, is a twisted tale of horror focusing on a dinner party gone wrong. Set against an 80s backdrop, the good time takes a dark turn when one in the group hijacks the evening in an attempt to help the others come clean about their secret betrayals against one another–and is willing to cut through the bone in order to expose the truth. Collectively this group of very talented women has decades of experience in the film industry and they are excited to be bringing fans and audiences everywhere a roller coaster ride of fun, intensity and, oh yes… blood.

Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently sat down with Danielle Harris to discuss her her role in the ‘Hatchet’ franchise, her experiences on set through the years and the challenges of bringing her first feature film to the big screen!

'Hatchet III'

‘Hatchet III’

You have been a big part of the ‘Hatchet’ franchise. To put it into perspective for our readers, how did you first get involved with this awesome series and what are your recollections of first meeting it’s creator Adam Green?

I had actually known Adam for a while prior to working on these films from being on the convention circuit. There were a couple of short films that Adam had done and we were on the convention circuit in the UK. I had done a short film for him there and we became friends from there and discussed wanting to work together. I actually auditioned for him for the original ‘Hatchet’ and I didn’t end up getting it. He brought me in on another film he was planning on at the time but ended up not doing. It was an amazing comedy called ‘God Only Knows’. I still want to do that one day but I think I am too old to play the character now. The genre is very, very small group of friends. I was working on ‘Stake Land’ with Dark Sky Films at the time. Adam called me and said he didn’t think it would be working out with the woman who played Marybeth in the first ‘Hatchet’ film, I guess there was a conflict or something, so he wanted to know if I was available and interested. I said I would be, of course, that was after I gave him a bunch of shit for not casting in the role for the first one! [laughs] It ended up working out and I signed on with them. It has all gone on from there!

You are no stranger to cult fan bases from being a part of the ‘Halloween’ series. ‘Hatchet’ has a very devoted fan base as well. Where you surprised the series has developed the cult following it has?

To be honest, I think we were kind of in need of that. We were missing “the new monster” and I think Adam hit it. A lot of the fan base of ‘Hatchet’ is my generation and they are familiar with the stuff we grew up with in the 80s. By bringing it back to that and what made horror so great and not relying on effects and CGI and all the stuff that had taken over the market or remakes or 3D, I think people like to watch what they know. In my opinion, that is why it got so big — he kept it real! I think sometimes simple is better. Also, Adam always had a full story. He always had a plan for how the films would progress from ‘Hatchet’ to ‘Hatchet III’. I don’t think that happens very often, where the entire series is now all wrapped up. Typically, when you write a movie you are hoping they come back for a sequel and then you have to write something and you never know how well it will work with the first one. I think for this franchise that wasn’t even an option because he had it all done. I think that is why the movies are so tight and they are so well received – they makes sense and they are just good gory fun!

What elements do you think you brought to the character that might not have existed on the written page? Are there elements of your own personality we might see come through in this performance?

On the second film, Adam and I really got to know each other because we worked so closely for such a long period of time. He got to know me, like know me, know me. I think he got to know my sarcasm and ball busting. Like I said, I auditioned for him for the project “God Only Knows.” I do actually like to do comedy, I just don’t get those opportunities very often. He said “God! You are so freakin’ funny. I really wish you would do more comedies.” I would love to do that if I could just get the opportunities. I think he took that into consideration when he was writing for Marybeth for this third film. The second film had already been written and I came in afterwards. He polished it and made some changes afterward, once I was onboard. I think it is a lot of how I would react and what would happen to me if I went through something like Marybeth did. I think there is a period of grieve where you shut down or have anger but there is still the underlying fear. It is fun to be able go through all of that because many characters don’t survive and they don’t get to come back. Usually you have your fun, fight, sex and sad scene, then you meet the killer and you don’t come back! [laughs] Or you are shy and the odd girl out and you make it to the end where you kill the killer and find your strength. You don’t get what to see what happens to those characters after the fact. It is similar to my role in Rob Zombie’s “Halloween.” As Annie, I got to come back for the sequel after surviving something so traumatic. I was completely different in the second film and that is the case with ‘Hatchet III’ as well. I played it as how I felt Marybeth would be after experiencing what she went through the night before. By that I mean she has nothing to lose because she has already lost everything!

With each new project comes a whole new set of challenges. You shot this film on location in the swamp with a new director, BJ McDonnell. What challenges did you encounter?

Danielle Harris

Danielle Harris

It was already set up because Adam had laid the groundwork and BJ was really able to put his creative twist on things! Cinematically, there is no one I have worked with who is better than BJ McDonnell. He has such and amazing eye. He has worked on the other ‘Hatchet’ movies as well, so he was familiar with and able to stay true to the style. With Adam overseeing everything, the feel and the tone of the movie still feels like it is very much a part of the franchise because Adam is all over it. It didn’t really feel like much of a shift, except Adam wasn’t at the monitor telling us what was going to happen next and walking us through it, that was BJ. Other than that, it has always been a collaboration. There didn’t feel like there was much as a difference as far as character goes. I have worked with BJ a bunch of times. He is a new director. He would be like “I need you to be more scared. I need you to be more angry.” It sucks for first time directors to really understand how to talk to actors. He didn’t really need to worry about me because I have done this so many times and was coming back as Marybeth, so I didn’t really need a director’s direct performance because I already knew how it felt because I physically, me, Danielle, had already emotionally gone through it already! I mean, when it came time to go back in those swamps again, I was thinking “Ugggh! I just don’t want to do this!” [laughs] I had that real-life moment where I thought “Oh God! I have to battle this motherfucker again!” I was able to bring some real-life into which makes my job a little bit easier.

There is another terrific Adam Green project you’ve been involved with and that is “Holliston”. You definitely show a different side of yourself as you mentioned before. Tell us all about it!

Absolutely! God bless Adam Green for giving me something funny to do! It is so hard when people just know you as one thing and don’t give you that chance to do something different. I haven’t done a project this fun in so long! I mean, I am on a soundstage and my makeup and hair is done? I get to be funny and I am not covered in blood?! [laughs] It was a really nice break! I think that is why Adam has been working on “Holliston” so much because it is a really fun show! You are not out in the mud up to your knees covered in mosquitos! A much fun and incredibly rewarding as film is, “Holliston” is the cherry on the sundae right there! It is a wonderful show and I really loved doing it. I just hope people don’t see it and think I am anything like that character! [laughs]

I think you are pretty safe!

Ok! I hope so! [laughs]

The last time we spoke (Click to check out the full interview!), around this time last year, you had already helmed your first film, “Among Friends”. At that point, you were pursuing distribution for the film, which you recently received. Can you tell us about that process and how challenging it was for you?

The Directorial Debut of Danielle Harris

The Directorial Debut of Danielle Harris

It was challenging as far as my travel schedule. I really wanted to get the word out about the project. We have a big market to cover! We got accepted into a bunch of film festivals last year and I spent nine months on the road! I went everywhere from London to Ireland to Spain to Canada. You name it and we were there! [laughs] We were all over the world last year! Just dealing with people and getting the buzz out there went really, really well. Come November of last year, I was like “Oh my God! I need a minute!” I had come right off directing the film, right into post-production and then onto the festival circuit, so it has been a bit of a whirlwind! It has been almost a year and I have been working this entire time! It has been an amazing experience! It is really, really nice to be other side. I love going festivals as a director and not as an actor because you get to hang out with so many great filmmakers and talk about film. When you hang out with actors, they tend to talk about themselves. I prefer to hang out with filmmakers to talk about things that are inspiring and creative. That has been my experience. It has definitely been challenging, trying to get it out! At the same time, I think “Wow! It’s coming out on DVD already?!” We shot it two years ago but it feels like yesterday. I am very excited people are being so supportive of my first movie out of the gate. For Lionsgate to pick up the film is a first time driector’s dream! I am super excited.

You have so many irons in the fire and manage to stay super busy. Is there any chance we will see you back in the director’s chair anytime soon?

Yeah! I am just about to close my deal with the writer for a script I am optioning right now. I was reading, reading reading and I found this script last August. I loved it! I kept reading to make sure this was the one but I knew it was! I continued to move forward and my mind kept going back to that script. After about a month, I was like “OK, I am ready!” This summer, I have a bunch of other movies coming out and other movies I am going to do as an actor. I am also getting married in January, so I am planning a wedding and there is just so much happening this year. I am optioning the script and hopefully in February we will start pre-production and then I will be living with that movie for two years! [laughs] That is sort of where I am going. As far as acting, it kinda depends. I really want to focus on directing, so conventions and appearances are going to be on hold for a little while unless it is going to be for directing.

Danielle Harris On The Set Of 'Among Friends'

Danielle Harris

As a director, is there anything you are hoping to achieve on this second outing?

Yeah, money and time! [laughs] I would like more money and more time! We shot “Among Friends” for next to nothing. Not even next to nothing, it was nothing and we shot in ten days. We had a seven lead cast in every setup, Three cameras for every shot and a monitor. We were very limited. We only had six days of pre-production and I think I had two weeks to edit the movie. It was really difficult. For the new film, I am still working on getting my team together. That is really what I love about ArieScope, Dark Sky Films and the Hatchet Army group because they have found their family. The get to make movies and take on new projects as a team. I think I am still searching for my team and I haven’t really found it yet but I am going to option this movie and give it a go next year. I found my style and I know what I respond too, so that is really good. I just have to get out there and do it again!

We will definitely be looking forward to that project, along with everything else you have in store for us! Thank you for your time today, Danielle.

Awesome! Thanks so much and I will talk to you soon!

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The New Blood: BJ McDonnell Discusses His Directorial Debut With ‘Hatchet III’

The New Blood: BJ McDonnell Discusses His Directorial Debut With ‘Hatchet III’

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BJ McDonnell is living proof that with a lot of hard work and dedication can turn your dreams into reality. Originally from the Deep South of Pensacola, Florida, he moved to Los Angeles after his punk rock career ended. Influenced by his grandfather; actor Leif Erickson, he decided to pursue a career in the film industry. Over the past several years, McDonnell has made a name for himself as a camera operator on large studio projects, such as Rob Zombie’s ‘Halloween’ films, ‘The Devil’s Rejects,’ ‘The Walking Dead’ and ‘Star Trek Into Darkness,’ just to name a few. Little did he know when meeting franchise creator Adam Green that his hard work as a camera operator on the first two ‘Hatchet’ films would lead him to helm the third and final film of the series!

‘Hatchet III’ continues the tale of the now-iconic villain Victor Crowley, played by genre favorite Kane Hodder, and ramps up the action to bring this epic tale of terror to a close. The film As a search and recovery team heads into the haunted swamp to pick up the pieces and carnage left behind from the first two films, Marybeth (Danielle Harris) hunts down the true secret to ending the voodoo curse that has left the ghost of Victor Crowley haunting and terrorizing Honey Island Swamp for decades.

Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently sat down with director BJ McDonnell to discuss his feature film debut, the challenges involved and what projects he has in store for us in the future!

BJ McDonnell

BJ McDonnell

What was it that originally intrigued you about the world of filmmaking and made your pursue it as a career?

It was the movie ‘Aliens,’ along with my grandfather. My grandfather is an old actor and he used to take me to film sets when I was younger kid. That sparked my interest! Plus, I made short films when I was a kid with those really awful VCR/VHS cameras where you ran around with a backpack with a tape deck in it and all that stuff! I really just got bit by the bug of making short films with my friends back in Florida. It is funny I mentioned ‘Aliens’ because Vasquez runs around with this huge rifle on what is basically a steady-cam rig arm. That is really how I got into the camera operating world. I got to know how that was with the steady-cam and how it worked. I was intrigued by telling story through movement of the camera and I got into doing that. That is where it all began!

Who would you cite as your biggest professional influences? You mentioned your grandfather and I sure that was a huge one for you.

Yeah, experiencing going to sets with him was definitely an inspiration as a young kid. Seeing the movie magic process that was going on and having him explain it to me was incredible. Working out here, a lot of the things I have learned come from the directors of photography I have worked with like Caleb Deschanel, Eric Leach, Brandon Trost, who are a bunch of guys who I have worked with who are really awesome cinematographers. They are the guys who taught me how to tell a story through camera. Those guys really inspired the hell out of me. Rob Zombie, as a director, inspired me because he taught me how to break the mold and break out of traditional storytelling and go with a lot of visuals. Working alongside of him and seeing what he does and how he works was really awesome! The guy really takes pride in what he does and researches everything. He is an amazing guy and I really respect him.

'Hatchet III'

‘Hatchet III’

You have been a part of the ‘Hatchet’ franchise since the start and it has been very good to you. Going back to the beginning, who did you first get involved and what are your first recollections of meeting it’s creator, Adam Green?

My friend Sarah Donohue, who I had worked with before as a camera operator, said she was getting ready to do a movie and wanted me to interview for it. I went down to the office and I walked by a dude wearing a Metallica t-shirt who was smoking a cigarette and dressed like a PA. I glanced at him and said “What’s up.” He said “What’s up.” I walked by him and went in to meet the director of photography Will Barratt. He sat me down and asked me about my love of horror films. I started talking about ‘Evil Dead’ and how I loved that movie, along with ‘Nightmare On Elm Street,’ ‘Halloween’ and things like that. I didn’t know that behind me, Adam was back there listening to the whole thing and he was looking for a camera operator who loved horror films. That was me! Of course, they guy in the Metallica t-shirt turned out to be Adam. From there, I talked it out with those guys and knew what they were going for and we went from there!

Here were are years later and they have passed you the torch to direct this thing! Were you at all apprehensive about helming the project and what were your thoughts on an approach to the film?

Yeah, I mean, you are always a little bit apprehensive. I didn’t ever ask to direct the movie. Adam approached me about directing it because he knew I was wanting to start moving into directing. Camera operating is great and I love it but I wanted to more and what I came to Los Angeles for was to direct. He gave me the opportunity to do that by offering up ‘Hatchet III’. He knew that I knew the story and all of the characters, so it was really neat to get into that. You’re apprehensive about taking these things because there are people who love and people who hate the movie. You are automatically throwing yourself into a world where people are going to hate what you did because they didn’t like the first two films. You will also have the people who will love what you did or love what you changed about certain things. My whole goal for this film was to make it look a bit more like a big movie. I wanted to change the shooting style of it a bit and go a bit darker with the Victor Crowley character. I wanted to make everything a bit darker and scarier as well as making it cinematic and telling a story through camera and having the actors get into the mud of it all because we shot on a real location. We were out in the swamp which is something we hadn’t done before. We had only done day exteriors for the other films for a day. This film was fun on nighttime swamp! The conditions were brutal but it looks better! It looks better! When you work in terrible conditions for some odd reason, it always looks awesome! It’s weird!

We had the chance to talk to Adam Green the other day and I know the people behind the scenes on this franchise are a very tight group. How has the collaborative process evolved along through the years?

The collaborative process on the first two films was what we were going to do with the camera and how we were going to accomplish a certain shot and things like that. Will [Barratt] and I would come up a lot of things on the day we were shooting. This one, because I was directing it, it was a lot of thing in pre-production were Adam, Robert Pendergraft and I would get together and talk about what we wanted to do. Adam would talk about what he wanted to do with it. I talked about what I wanted to put into it as well as talking to Robert about if we could pull these effects off. It was one of those things where Adam had an idea of what he wanted, I had ideas of what I wanted to put to the script and that is basically how it came about. Adam took action sequences for situations for certain situations I wanted to do in the movie and put them into the story he was writing. It was a great collaboration of what I wanted to do with the film and what his script was. It was really neat to do it that way. On set, I would get in there with the camera and tried to flow the camera with the story.

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You have had the opportunity to work alongside of some of horror’s iconic stars from days gone by. In your opinion, what did this group of actors bring to the table for ‘Hatchet III’?

I worked with Danielle Harris and Kane Hodder before. Before I worked with Kane on ‘Hatchet,’ I had worked with him on ‘The Devil’s Rejects,’ so I had gotten to know him. I had gotten to know Danielle from the ‘Halloween’ films. They were both very easy to work with because it was like dealing with friends. It was a really fun group. Zach Galligan, I didn’t know at all. We had just talked on the phone prior to filming. I told him it was going to be a really tough shoot and I didn’t want to lie to him! He came down and he was fantastic! The whole crew really felt like we were a bunch of buddies and most of them are! Some of the people who I cast like Jason Trost, Sean Whalen Diane Goldner are all my friends, as well as Cody Snider and Derek Mears. When you do a first time directing thing with people like that it was easier because I have already known them instead of going into a movie as a first time director and not knowing any of the cast. They could bust my balls and I could bust their balls back and everyone would just get a laugh out of it! It was a lot of fun!

Looking back on the entire process, what were the biggest challenges you faced as a first time director?

BJ McDonnell

BJ McDonnell

One of the biggest challenges was making our days because of the night movie exterior. We shot in the summertime, so we had eight hours of night. You are really limited to the amount of stuff you can get! You have to go as fast as possible to get everything you scheduled in. We only had 16 days to shoot in the swamps down there. We did 4 1/2 days here but they were all contained but they we still eight hour days because we had to do them outside. It was tough with the swamp because of the bugs, rain, alligators, animals and people getting sick from deet poisoning. Out of all the ‘Hatchet’ films, it was the toughest one. Even compared to ‘Hatchet II,’ where everyone caught H1N1 virus because of the stage and a grip showing up and giving it to everybody. This was a brutal shoot because of the conditions alone! You can shoot in the rain, which always looks so great on film, but working in it is awful! You have to think about the people behind the cameras who have to deal with it and the things that aren’t going right because the conditions, the rain making things not happen or being unable to get certain equipment to a location because it is stuck in the mud. It was a challenge to get it all done but I think it really shows. I think the fact that I did shoot it in the swamp and put my foot down and said I really wanted to shoot there so we can actually see what is going on pays off, as well as shooting it in scope. Going with the vision I was aiming to achieve, I think it really helped to shoot down there. I don’t regret that at all, other than it was miserable for people down there. Luckily, we had a killer crew that pulled through it! These were people who could have actually left. They didn’t need to stay there and we weren’t paying much, so they could have left but they wanted to do the job. I am really grateful for that and for everyone who did the job! The cast and crew were all amazing!

I had the chance to screen the film and I thought you all did a terrific job. I am a fan of the franchise and I really like what you brought to the project!

Oh man, thank you so much! You dug it, huh? What did you think of it difference-wise?

I really thought you did a terrific job with the pacing. This film was a lot more action oriented right from the get go. That being said, I think it pairs really well with the other films, which I am sure was a challenge for you guys to balance the elements and keep it fresh for yourselves at the same time.

'Hatchet III'

‘Hatchet III’

Exactly. That is one big thing I wanted to make sure we didn’t do — have nothing happen until 50 minutes into the movie. I was like “We have to keep this thing going and make sure things start happening at least 20 minutes in. It has to go from there — Go, go go!” I really wanted to keep the energy up all the way to the very end of it. I think we did a pretty good job of that. I was pretty hellbent on making it that way!

You have an incredible resume of work in your field. Do you every get to reflect on your career so far, how you have grown along the way and what you are looking to tackle in the future?

Yeah! I think I learn something new with every job. I never get to the point where I think I have done everything, there is always a new challenge around the bend. I look forward to each job because of the people you meet in the field. Every job I am on I learn something from a new director or someone else on set. I reflect back on those things and I am very proud of what I have done. I have accomplished a lot in the short amount of time I have been doing this and it is always a learning process. Mostly, I am happy with the people I get to meet and work with every single day. In this career, you meet some of the best people you could ever meet. You also meet some of the worst people you could ever meet! [laughs] It is a great job and a great career! I am looking forward to directing my next feature, which I am working on right now. Hopefully, we will get that off the ground and get going!

That’s great! I know you are early in the process but can you give us any details on that?

Right now the projects are in script form but we are getting ready to start pitching the ideas. One is just a straight up 90s action film, which is super awesome! I have a lot of good stunt people behind me who want to do it, as well as effects artists and people I have gotten to know here who can pull off this kind of stuff. The other one is basically a spy, sci-fi, action film that is very cool but very serious. I am very much looking to get both of those off of the ground. Both are written by two of my friends who are pretty good writers who have definitely done some stuff. I can’t go into detail about them right not because we are not in the phase to reveal who they are but we are onboard together. I think if we get it going, it will be a killer, killer movie! I just want to keep it going!

You are a great example of someone who headed out to LA to achieve their dream. You have made your mark and continue to forge ahead. What is the best piece of advice you can offer up to those looking to pursue a career in the entertainment industry?

My advice to anyone who wants to do this stuff, be it someone who wants to act, someone who wants to do a certain thing on the crew or direct, is simple. There are always going to be people who are going to tell you that you can’t do it. Don’t get discouraged by what other people say. If you truly believe that is what you want to do, you have the heart for it and you really want to go that way, go for it! People in Florida when I left said stuff like “Oh yeah, good luck out there in Hollywood. Good luck doing that stuff.” The choice I made to come out here and do this stuff kept me going and got me where I am today. The people I have met are great and so is the whole community out here. Don’t let anyone get you down about it. Follow your dream is basically what I can tell you.

I want to thank you for taking time out to talk to us today. I am really excited to see what you bring to us next with these new projects!

I am ready, man! I can’t wait to get them off the ground and show them to you, dude! It’s going to be so much fun!

Awesome! We will be spreading the word and I look forward to talking to you again very soon!

Thank you so much, Jason! Take care!

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Zach Galligan: Iconic Actor Discusses Life, Career, ‘Gremlins’ and ‘Hatchet III’

Zach Galligan: Iconic Actor Discusses Life, Career, ‘Gremlins’ and ‘Hatchet III’

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At nineteen, Zach Galligan went from being a virtually unknown young actor to one of the most recognizable faces on the big screen, not only in the United States but around the globe. With his terrific performance as Billy Peltzer in ‘Gremlins’ he instantly became one of the most beloved characters of the 1980s. His work as an actor didn’t end there as he continued on to star in projects ranging from film to to television to the stage. Even after many years in the industry, Galligan is not one to shy away from challenges. His latest role lands him smack dab in the middle of one of horror’s most talked about cult movie franchises and pairs him with some of the horror genre’s most iconic names! 

‘Hatchet III’ continues the tale of the now-iconic villain Victor Crowley, played by genre favorite Kane Hodder, and ramps up the action to bring this epic tale of terror to a close. The film As a search and recovery team heads into the haunted swamp to pick up the pieces and carnage left behind from the first two films, Marybeth (Danielle Harris) hunts down the true secret to ending the voodoo curse that has left the ghost of Victor Crowley haunting and terrorizing Honey Island Swamp for decades.

Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently sat down with Zach Galligan to discuss who he got his start as an actor, becoming a film icon almost overnight, the challenges of his latest tole in ‘Hatchet III’ and what projects he has in store for us for the 30th Anniversary of ‘Gremlins’!

Zach Galligan

Zach Galligan

Many people of my generation instantly recognize you from your role in ‘Gremlins’. I wanted to go back a little further than that and learn what got you started as an actor.

I had done a number of plays and musicals in high school and summer camps. They were your obligatory ‘Pippin,’ Grease’ and ‘Godspell’ productions. I went to school in Manhattan at 75th and Broadway. I didn’t really know it at the time but that was a place where casting directors would go and scout young talent. A couple of casting directors swung by and saw me in the plays that I did. They called me in to try out for some very, very early 80s movies. I think the first movie I ever tried out for was ‘Taps’ with Timothy Hutton, Sean Penn and Tom Cruise, so I was in that generation of actors. The role I went in for, I got beaten out for by Sean Penn, which I never really feel that bad about in retrospect! [laughs] Long story short, after I started trying out for these movies, I stumbled into getting an agent and I was pretty much off and running by the time I was seventeen.

Who would you cite as some of your biggest influences in your early years?

I would say the two actors who really influenced me are so different from me, I was never really able to use their thing. I loved Steve McQueen and his kind of quiet thoughtfulness. I also loved Malcolm McDowell. I loved his intensity of his eyes. I love the opening shot of “A Clockwork Orange” where it pulls back from him and he has that look on his face. I remember seeing that for the first time and thinking “What is that!” It is that kind of mischievous, demonic, evil glint in his eye as Alex. I still think that is one of the most underrated film performances of the last fifty years! I think Malcolm McDowell is flawless in that movie.

Your career path lead you to one of the most beloved movies of my generation, ‘Gremlins’. When you took that role, I doubt you had any idea it would become the phenomena it did. How did that effect you as a young actor?

Zach Galligan: ALways Smooth

Zach Galligan: ALways Smooth

I have to contradict you. I think both Steven [Spielberg] and I both knew how huge the movie was going to be and we were kinda freaked out by it! Spielberg had just done “E.T.: The Extraterrestrial” and it quickly became the biggest movie in the world, now he was doing sort of an “E.T.” on it’s head followup and was very enthusiastic about it. He was really going to push it and was going to open it a week or two after his own movie, “Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom.” We knew if it even did a quarter of what “E.T.” did, we would instantly be thrown into the forefront of popular culture at the time. To answer the second part of your question, how did it affect me? It changed my entire life forever! Basically, the film opened 29 years ago yesterday. I would say within two weeks, a maximum of three weeks but by the first of July, everywhere I went all around America and a year later, all around the world, I was recognized everywhere I went. In every shop or restaurant, I was recognized! It was this crazy thing — a sudden impact! I didn’t realize the scope of it until I went down to South Africa in 1988. As you can imagine, South Africa is about as far away from New York City as you can get! On a map, it is all the way over and then all the way down. I was walking down the street in Johannesburg and these kids came running up to me saying “Gremlins! Gremlins!” I thought to myself “Holy shit! I could be at the South Pole and people would still know me!” [laughs] It boggles your mind! It is still very strange. I have had so many strange things happen to me in life! You don’t realize what it is like to be in a hit movie until you are in one because the breadth and scope of the number of people it reaches is really hard to imagine.

Speaking of movies that have reached people, ‘Hatchet III’ is your latest project. This franchise has an incredible fan base. How did you initially become involved with the project?

I opened up my email one day and in front of me was an email who’s subject read “Hatchet III Offer”. At first, I thought it was from Amazon.com or Best Buy. I thought “I don’t know if I really want a ‘Hatchet III’ DVD. Thank you very much!” I was about to delete it when I saw it was from my agent. I was like ” Wait. What?” because most actors, unless you are one of the top thirty actors in the world, you don’t get a lot of offers all the time. Offers are few and far between. You have to work to get a part. They were like “Hey, we are going to be doing this movie down in New Orleans!” I took notice of that right away because New Orleans is one of my favorite cities. They said “There is a really cool part in the film, not sure if you would be interested in doing it but if you want to, give us a ring!” I read the script and it has hilarious. The part was huge, it was awesome and I could do anything I wanted to with it. I basically signed right up!

That is very cool. What did you bring to the character that might not have been on the written page originally?

Zach Galligan In 'Hatchet III'

Zach Galligan In ‘Hatchet III’

They wanted me to play a Northern who was down south, who had relocated to Louisiana and spoke normally. I know my persona and I thought people would be like “What would a guy like him be doing down in a Louisiana Parish as a sheriff?” I just kinda decided to make him what I imagined a southern sheriff to be, whether they are from Louisiana and spoke with a Cajun accent or like my character who has transferred from the Houston branch. If you listen closely, you will hear a reference to that. He is just a guy who is bored to shit with his job which is basically arresting drunks for Mardi Gras. That is what his life has been like until the second the movie opens and he is thrust into the most nightmarish twelve hours of his life. I liked the idea of someone who was a bit more laid back and lazy. He is let go and developed a little bit of a beer belly and is just counting the years until his retirement while arresting drunks and stopping domestic squabbles like you see on ‘Cops’! He is just that guy! Now all of a sudden, he has to go fight a swamp monster! I thought “You know what? That might be a lot more interesting!”

Speaking of being thrown into things, I imagine you had to feel that way about filming in the swamp! What was that experience like for you and what was the biggest challenge you encountered while there?

The experience was basically hell on Earth! [laughs] It was incredibly hot and sweaty! If I never see an insect again it will be too soon! I guess the biggest challenge was willing myself to get back in the van to go back to the set to get eaten alive eight nights in a row! [laughs] It was a very weird thing because once I was on the set, the people were so great, I had a fantastic time shooting it and laughed my ass off. It was a weird thing because I would be having a great time, laughing my ass off and then I would look down and see I had been bitten seven times on the palm of my hand in the last ten minutes! [laughs] Prior to this, I had never even been bitten once on the palm of my hand. I never even knew mosquitos would find the palm of your hand tasty! [laughs] When my girlfriend came to visit me on the set, she took a look at my hands and said “What are they doing to you?!” [laughs] I said “They are not doing anything to me sweetheart! It’s the bayou! It’s alive! The whole thing is alive and it wants to eat you!” [laughs]

HATCHET III / Director BJ McDonnell / Photo: Skip Bolen

They say you always take a little something away from each project as an actor. What did you take away from you time on the set with this amazing cast and crew?

That is a good question. I will tell you what I took away from this experience. It really reenergized and reinvigorated my passion for filmmaking because everyone on the set was having so much fun making the movie. It had been a long time since I had been on a set where everyone was filled with an almost child-like enthusiasm. It was the innocence of “Hey man, we are making a movie!” It was a great thing to feel. I have been on a lot of sets where people are like “Let’s just get the shot and go home.” There are a lot of jaded professionals out there. It was totally different with this project. It was more like “Can you believe it! We got the money and we are doing a swamp monster movie! Isn’t it awesome!” It really was awesome!

'Hatchet III'

‘Hatchet III’

It is really cool to hear that as a fan of the franchise. I know everyone is working hard to bring these films to life.

Did you have a chance to see ‘Hatchet III’ yet?

I did!

What were your thoughts. You can tell me the honest truth, everyone is going to have different opinions.

As I mentioned, I am definitely a fan of the franchise. We actually went to see the first film in theaters the night it opened. The latest film was great. I felt the pacing was terrific and it was definitely action packed. As I mentioned to Adam Green and BJ McDonnell, I am sure it was a big challenge to move the series forward and keep the balance they were looking for. I feel like they did a tremendous job in doing so. The performances in the film were great as well.

Did you notice that the film looked larger in terms of scope and size, the whole look of it?

Absolutely. BJ and I were discussing that in our interview yesterday.

To me, as a filmmaker, I felt the second film in the series looked like it was shot at a studio. It just seems smaller and compressed. With ‘Hatchet III,’ the swamp itself is so beautiful, it just looks like a swamp instead of sets because it was.

I totally agree and coupled with the fact the entire cast and crew is so into making the film happen, it gives it a certain life of it’s own. I think it really jumps of the screen because of that.

Yeah. I can imagine some fans might be disappointed because it isn’t as scary with stuff jumping out at you as in the previous films. I don’t know. I thought it was interesting to try and go in more of a slightly different direction yet still maintain a lot of the carnage.

Definitely. I felt the slight shift in direction was a welcome one and was a bit of an evolution.

That is a great way to put it. I did feel like it kind of evolved with this.

That leads into my next question for you, Zach. How do you feel you have evolved as an actor through the years?

Oh good lord! [laughs] I think the real question you would ask of any actor, and I am not trying to correct you but I am just saying the big picture is “How have you evolved as a human being?” That is going to inevitably and inexorably bleed into some of your performances. The fact of the matter is when I started as an actor, I was a senior in high school. I was a kid, ya know. Basically, I was one year removed from losing my virginity! [laughs] Now, I will be fifty next February, which probably makes you feel old too! So, I am a middle aged man who has traveled all over the world, seen all sorts of things and learned all sorts of lesson. One of the things I liken it to, and these is not that much of it in the movie, but you do kinda get a little sense of my world weariness. I carry that around with me a little bit here and there! [laughs] That was a little bit by design. There are elements in my performance, for example in the ambulance boat sequence where I am trying to get help. The person on the other end of the radio is saying “What’s your twenty? What is your location. Where are you?” The frustration of even then having to deal with the bureaucracy explodes at him and he is like “Where the fuck do you think we are!!!” [laughs] That is totally how I think most adults feel by the time they are fifty! There is so much frustration that comes from existing and the layers of layers of crap you sometimes have to navigate just to live! So, I don’ know, maybe I brought some of that world weariness to the character.

My last question is an important one for pop culture fans around the world. Do you have any special plans to ring in the 30th anniversary of ‘Gremlins’ in 2014?

Pop Icons: Zach and Gizmo

Pop Icons: Zach and Gizmo

Well, I have started writing what I hope will be the definitive “Making of” book for the “Gremlins” films. Wether I get it together, finished and published by the 30th anniversary, I don’t know but I guarantee you I will work really hard. I think it is a story I think a lot of people would like to know — what it is like to be nineteen years old and as a nineteen year old kid be thrust into this amazing piece of machinery and then have this amazing film that people are still talking about thirty years later. The fact of the matter is, “Gremlins” is just as big today as it was when it came out. When I go to the conventions, I am stunned by the eight, nine and ten year old kids who have seen it with their parents and how many people watch it at Christmas. I am still amazed by how many people get in contact with me. I still get probably fifty to sixty fan letters and requests per month. It just never stops! It is amazing and very gratifying, so hopefully I will be able to get that book out on time.

The book sounds terrific! I want to thank you again for you time today, Zach. We look forward to spreading the word on ‘Hatchet III’ and hope to see you again soon!

Thank you, man! I appreciate it. Take care, Jason!

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Inside Adam Green: Horror’s Most Intriguing Director Talks ‘Hatchet 3’ And More!

Inside Adam Green: Horror’s Most Intriguing Director Talks ‘Hatchet 3’ And More!

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Building off the success of the critically acclaimed ‘Hatchet’, it seemed as if director Adam Green had transformed himself from a relatively unknown horror director to an award-winning filmmaker and producer at his company ArieScope Pictures almost overnight. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Adam Green and his dedicated collaborators have spent the past fifteen years shaping their company and amassing one of the most dedicated fan bases in cult cinema history. During that time, his tireless efforts have brought us unique films such as ‘Frozen,’ ‘Grace’ and ‘Chillerama,’ not to mention the always hilarious ‘Holliston’ television series which has managed to rekindle interest of some of the genre’s biggest names by showing them in a whole new light. Despite all of these other successes, Adam Green will always be known for one of his most sinister creations — Victor Crowley. This Boogeyman of the Bayou has managed to charm his way into the hearts and minds of horror fanatics around the globe. ‘Hatchet III’ continues the tale of the now-iconic villain Victor Crowley, played by genre favorite Kane Hodder, and ramps up the action to bring this epic tale of terror to a close. The film As a search and recovery team heads into the haunted swamp to pick up the pieces and carnage left behind from the first two films, Marybeth (Danielle Harris) hunts down the true secret to ending the voodoo curse that has left the ghost of Victor Crowley haunting and terrorizing Honey Island Swamp for decades. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently sat down with writer/director Adam Green to discuss the success of the ‘Hatchet’ franchise, the challenges involved in bringing it to the screen and the personal sacrifices he has made in the name of the horror business.

I wanted to go way back to the beginning. You have inspired a lot of people with you hard work and dedication to your passion in recent years. What was the event that kicked started your interest into entering the world of filmmaking?

Adam Green

Adam Green

It was ‘E.T.: The Extraterrestrial’. I was about seven or eight when I saw the film. I was already a big movie fan because of ‘Star Wars’ and all of the related toys. That was my life! I remember leaving the theater after seeing ‘E.T.’, hysterically crying. I knew it wasn’t real and that E.T. wasn’t real but I was affected by it, basically for the rest of my life — even to this day! I have seen it in the theater seventeen times at this point and I have watched it hundreds of times and it still devastates me. I was so intrigued by how they did that with the music, the script, the acting, the lighting and the storytelling. I wanted to know how you did that with a movie. That is really where it all started. From then on, whenever I would play with my toys, which was always ‘Star Wars’ toys for the most part, it was all about staying true to the characters in the movies. When I would look at them and play with them, it was through the eyes of the camera and camera shots. I started making my own little shows with stuffed animals or puppets. My uncle got this crappy little video camera that he let us borrow and I would have it in the backyard shooting stuff. I guess I was like everyone else who gets the bug for this thing. Horror was always my favorite because of the holiday of Halloween. I would look forward to that all year round! I just could not wait for Halloween! With most kids, it is Christmas or their birthday as their favorite but for me it was Halloween. Horror movies was a way to capture the magic of Halloween year round. It is pure escapism! It is the fun, the stories are great, the special effects are terrific. For the ‘Hatchet’ movie, all I did was make the type of movie that I wanted to see again. I wasn’t thrilled with what I was being offered. I wasn’t into torture porn, not that I was against it because there has to be stuff for everybody but it wasn’t my style. Then there were all the remakes and the PG-13 stuff. I wanted to see non-CGI makeup effects. Where did Tom Savini go? Where did John Buechler go? I wanted a magic show again! All I did was make the type of movie I wanted to see again with my comedic voice and sensibilities. Nobody really thought it was going to work! Everybody passed on that script because it wasn’t the style at the time. I would hear “This isn’t the style right now. This isn’t it. The writing is great and we would love to hire you to write something else but we are not going to make this movie.” We gambled and we made it. Now, Part III is about to open! It is incredible!

When you set forth to make the original ‘Hatchet’ film, did you have any idea whatsoever you would go on to spawn two sequels?

The story in these films was always very well thought out from the get go. The gamble with the first ‘Hatchet’ film and it’s ending being so abrupt, it might have ended it there. That might have been it. I was OK with that — end the movie where it needs to end. It was like “He’s got her and if that is where it ends, that is where it ends!” You don’t need to see the fake ending we did. We made it but we were like “Fuck that part! We don’t need that extra little shit.” We ended the movie right at the climax. Whether people loved that or hated it, I think most people respected it because it was ballsy to do. Then there was the gamble of “Are there going to be more?” Even back in the first ‘Hatchet,’ the chainsaw he uses in Part II, we show it in the shed. We already knew about that kill in the sequel. I had already told Robert Pendergraft and John Buechler, our artists who were designing Victor Crowley, that his real mother was black and that is why his hair and skin color needed to look a certain way. I had the whole story! Even in the flashback where Mary Beth tells the story, I purposely made it very truncated and more of a little campfire, urban legend and held back on telling the real story for the sequel. It was really had to do that because I thought “What if I never get the chance to tell the whole story?” Gratefully, I did! These three movies tie together as one big movie and I am happy that the quality continues to get better between movies instead of worse like most of these slasher franchises. I think a lot of that is because the same people have stuck with it through the whole thing. It is really, really important to us and we really love it. We do everything we can to try and make these movies fun for the fans!

It seems you definitely make an effort to keep your finger on the pulse of what the fans want these days. Is that a fair statement to make?

'Hatchet III'

‘Hatchet III’

It is not just me. I have to point this out because it is so unusual. It is really Dark Sky Films, the distributor. They came onboard for parts two and three. What is amazing about this company is they are so filmmaker and fan friendly. It is not just abut what names are attached or how much money can we get for it, like a lot of other places. Thankfully, the ‘Hatchet’ fan base is a cult fan base but it is not like ‘Saw,’ where it was released on 2000 screens and made $20 million dollars or whatever. The fan base worldwide is extremely loyal and very, very big, so they let me make these movies for the ‘Hatchet’ fans. They have never said “How do we make this a little bit broader for a wider audience? Let’s make it PG-13 or maybe it doesn’t need to be quite so gory. Maybe i shouldn’t be funny.” They totally listen to the fans and the feedback we get and they care. They have never meddled and we have never not been on the same page. That is so, so unusual and a huge reason why I have been able to keep my finger on the pulse of what the fans want. As people know, I am very accessible. I write back to everyone who writes to me. I have a Facebook page that I personally respond to people on, as well as Twitter and all of the convention appearances I do. I listen! It has been great! I love that the fans treat me like I am available. I hope that for most, it feels like I am one of their friends. That has also become a fun part if the process.

As a fan of your work, I totally agree with that. I totally get that vibe from you. It is a rarity these days, so kudos to you on that! You stepped away from the directors chair on this film. Where you ever apprehensive in doing so and what does BJ McDonnell bring to the table for this project?

I was never apprehensive because it was a very unique situation. I had already directed two of these films, especially after ‘Hatchet II’ got pulled. I thought “Ok, I don’t want to do it again.” I had my TV series now, I had ‘Killer Pizza’ and ‘Digging Up The Marrow’ and it was either going to be wait five years until I was ready to do this or let’s do it. The situation was pretty unique because I wrote it, and as anyone knows, the script is God in the movie. That is were everything is decided, so I was still able to control the story. I also cast the movie, aside from a few people. The parts were written specifically for them. I then I also had final cut, I was on set and in editing, so it wasn’t the typically thing where you just get a producer credit because you created it and see what happens. I was very, very involved. By promoting from within and giving BJ a chance to do it made perfect sense because he was already part of the whole family. Everyone already knew each other and there was no ego there! He wasn’t coming in as an established director who felt the need to come in, change it up and make it his own. There was never a butting of heads about anything. He stayed very true to the script and very true to the vision that was set out for from the get go because he was a part of all of them. This is a very collaborative group of people. Everybody had a say and was involved! There is nobody on the crew who is ever apprehensive or coming forward with an idea or saying what they think about something. I think that really shows in the movie. I think as a camera operator, BJ was very, very focused on camera shots. That is very interesting because this film is a lot more of an action movie but we still have the same DP, Will Barratt, who shot the first two. We wanted to make each movie a little different. Obviously, you don’t want them to be the same movie over and over again, so for this film, the scope is definitely a lot bigger. That was really the goal with the script from the get go — How do we go out with a huge, huge spectacle?

One of the coolest aspects of your projects, including ‘Hatchet 3,’ is the fact you bring some great talent with some classic actors from genre’s past. What can you tell us about bringing the cast together for this film and how it took shape?

Adam Green's 'Holliston'

Adam Green’s ‘Holliston’

I have been very fortunate that after the first film, every convention I would do, the entire roster of horror celebrities appearing there would always come up to me at some point and say “Hw do I get in on one of these things?” I think what they like about it is they get to be front and center and actually play good characters! Tony Todd, for instance, wasn’t just being scary or making ‘Candyman’ references. He was a funny, funny, larger than life guy who a lot of people had never seen him do comedy. That was really, really fun. For this film, having Zach Galligan back was terrific. Many people haven’t seen him in 20 years and Caroline Williams hadn’t been the lead in a movie for so long. It isn’t that they aren’t good actors. I don’t know if people are just forgetting they are there or what but getting to put them front and center and bring them back again is really, really fun! With “Holliston” as well, you have horror icons doing a sitcom. They are doing a multi-camera, traditional sitcom with a studio audience and a laugh track. They never thought that was going to happen. You have to remember, when you decide you are going to be an actor, that is awesome if you re Robert Englund and are known as being “Freddy” and are an icon but you want to do other stuff too! As much as you appreciate what you have, you don’t want to play one role for the rest of your life and do cameos! You want to do different stuff! I like giving people that chance!

You have logged a lot of time as a writer over the past few years with the ‘Hatchet’ films, your other movies and ‘Holliston’. Are you doing anything differently in regard to writing than you did early on and what is your process like these days?

My process is extremely unhealthy and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. I have ten more days of press until ‘Hatchet III’ comes out. Then I am going into rehab. It is not really rehab but that is what I am calling it! I am just going to my parents house so my Mom can baby me and get me back on my feet. I am just not well. I work at least 22 hours a day most days and sometimes I was doing 36 hour days. I would sleep for twenty minutes and keep going. I love all of this so much that it isn’t like work and I can’t stay away. It isn’t stressful in terms of stress, it is stressful in terms of it being so much to handle. That goes for ‘Holliston’ more than anything because it is sitcom where normally you would have a staff of twenty writers and all of these directors. I write and direct almost every episode this season. I had someone understudy me last season, John Becker, who was able to step up. With TV, the showrunner is really the director. The director is basically getting the coverage and making sure it is correct and everything is there. The showrunner is the one with final say. I write non-stop. I am constantly doing it and it is fun! That part of the process is so great because it is just you in your mind and as many gallons of Diet Coke you can drink to keep going! [laughs] I love the writing process! It is great! It gets tough when you get a studio assignment because you will have 17 different executives giving you notes. A lot of times, those notes all conflict, don’t make sense and they don’t know what they are saying sometimes but that is the part of the process where you really get to do your thing.

With as active as you are in the industry, do you every take time out to look back at all you have accomplished and ponder your evolution?

Adam Green

Adam Green

That is something I regret. I have never had the chance to do that. I have never celebrated any of it. It is one of those things. Being totally honest, I just started going to a therapist this year because my wife was very concerned. She was like “You have never even been happy about it. You never just relax, look back and think about how great it has been. It is always about what’s next and what’s after that and after that!” I am trying to get better about that. Sometimes, if I am in my studio, and I look at the walls with all of the posters from ‘Hatchet’ to ‘Spiral’ to ‘Grace’ to the ‘Hatchet’ series to ‘Chillerama’ to ‘Frozen,’ it’s like “How the fuck did this happen?” It has been a fifteen year journey since I started and started ArieScope Pictures. The fact we have all stayed together through all of it and made so many different things is amazing. ‘Hatchet I’ was shot in 2005 and we haven’t stopped since. The projects overlap and we just keep going and going. I am lucky to be in that position. A lot of my friends who are directors will go three to four years between projects sometimes, so I always knock on wood and never take it for granted. I do need to, hopefully, reflect on it a little bit, enjoy it a little bit and take a vacation every now and then. I am even looking forward to going to a premiere, watching and being excited and not totally worried about if the color not being exactly right or what is happening with this or that. It is a great problem to have but it is a problem. I am not going to last as long as I want unless I learn how to manage that better and live my life a little bit. I have no social life at all. I never go out. I barely get to see friends and my family, so I am working on that!

As a fan, I thank you for your time today. Keep up the great work but let’s not kill ourselves over it!

Thank you very much! [laughs] It was great talking to you. Take care!

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‘Hatchet III’ Gets An Official Theatrical Poster, Hits Theaters June 14th!

‘Hatchet III’ Gets An Official Theatrical Poster, Hits Theaters June 14th!

A brand new theatrical poster for ‘Hatchet III’ has been unleashed. The film stars Danielle Harris, Kane Hodder, Zach Galligan and Caroline Williams. Mark your calendars, as this highly anticipated flick will be available In Select Theaters and Available Nationwide On-Demand June 14!

Official Synopsis: Concluding the saga begun in Adam Green’s hit 2006 thriller, Hatchet III follows the vengeful Marybeth (Danielle Harris) as she continues seeking out a way to destroy Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder), a hulking, seemingly-invincible sociopath rampaging through a sleepy Louisiana swamp.

While a heavily-armed team of mercenaries takes to the bayou surrounding Crowley’s home, Marybeth finds herself begrudgingly teaming up with a local policeman (Zach Galligan) and his ex-wife (Caroline Williams) – an expert on the maniac who may have uncovered the secret to ending his murderous rampage once and for all.

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Among Friends: Danielle Harris Dishes On Her Directorial Debut And More!

Among Friends: Danielle Harris Dishes On Her Directorial Debut And More!

You know her, you love her and the horror industry wouldn’t be the same without her — she is legendary scream queen Danielle Harris. This brunette bombshell has grown up right before our eyes on television and the silver screen, establishing herself as on of the most dynamic actors in the business. Never afraid to experiment or to follow her keen instincts when it comes to a role, Danielle continues to surprise her fans with each new project. Her latest endeavor is no exception to that rule, as she prepares to unleash the next exciting chapter of her career! In her directorial debut, Harris has enlisted some of her very talented friends. “Among Friends,” written by Alyssa Lobit and produced by Jennifer Blanc-Biehn and Athena Lobit, is a twisted tale of horror focusing on a dinner party gone wrong. Set against an 80s backdrop, the good time takes a dark turn when one in the group hijacks the evening in an attempt to help the others come clean about their secret betrayals against one another–and is willing to cut through the bone in order to expose the truth. Collectively this group of very talented women has decades of experience in the film industry and they are excited to be bringing fans and audiences everywhere a roller coaster ride of fun, intensity and, oh yes… blood. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently sat down with Danielle Harris to discuss her passion for filmmaking, the challenges involved in creating her first feature film, her upcoming web series and much, much more!

The Directorial Debut of Danielle Harris

Obviously, many of us watched you grow up on TV and in movies. You grew up in the industry. When did you first get the feeling you wanted to be behind the camera?

I think it was just over the last couple of years. I came to a point where I was on set and started thinking, “Why am I not doing this?” I wasn’t getting the scripts that I wanted as an actress. I was handed the opportunity to work with some friends of mine that I wanted to work with. I felt I had a list of people I wanted to work with and all of these fun things I wanted to do but I was just sitting back waiting for them to come my way when I could just go out and make it happen myself! That is really where it came from.

For those unfamiliar with the film you chose for your directorial debut, “Among Friends,” what can you tell us about it from a plot perspective?

I would describe it as “Heathers” meets “Very Bad Things” meets “Clue.” It is all of the things that I love about the horror genre but I have a sense of humor about what I do for a living. I really don’t take it too seriously, so I didn’t want to make another torture porn, slasher movie kinda thing. I just wanted it to be fun! The script that came my way was very different from what we ended up doing. I checked in with Alyssa [Lobit], the writer, after I signed on to it and said, “What do you want to do? What do you really want to do?” In this genre, I sorta have this get out of jail free card to do whatever it is I want to do and know I have the support of the fans. I feel like many first time directors may not want to take that risk because they feel they only have one shot to make it or break it. I didn’t feel like I had that because I already had a support team behind me. That made it a lot easier for me to take risks and do things that were a bit unconventional but still stay within the things that I know work and still do what I really wanted to do.

You didn’t have reservations about taking the leap into a directorial role but it took a while to find the perfect project. What can you tell us about that search?

It kinda found me. I have been reading scripts forever, probably about three years, just trying to find the one. There were a couple along the way which I thought would be cool and I turned them over to my managers and agents. They were cool and had potential but it was a situation where I thought, “This one is cool but it could use some work.” When the script for “Among Friends” came to me, it was more of who was involved with it. I really loved the fact that the antagonist and protagonist were females. All of the characters are a bit stereotypical but at the same time are so different from what the normal horror type characters are while still staying true to the genre. Kimberly McCullough has known Jennifer Blanc for a long time and I have known Alyssa Lobit for years. It got to the point where I said, “Hey! I am going to do this thing. Would you be interested in starting a production company and/or get something going with my girlfriends?” I don’t know if you know the statistics but it is something like only 18% of females are active in the entertainment industry both in front of and behind the camera, which is really devastating to me! There are even fewer female genre directors. That was even more shocking to me because all of the heroines in the horror genre. I think I just wanted to do this because I could take a different approach than a lot of the different men I had been directed by. I also pushed my girls to go a little bit further because they know that I am another girl and I would have their back as far as some sexually graphic stuff. Even though there is no nudity, as far as violent stuff, they could feel safe and protected knowing there is another female there to make sure everything is OK. But back to your original point, the script kinda came to me!

Danielle Harris Hard At Work On The Set Of ‘Among Friends’

Was it difficult to balance the horror elements with the more humorous elements without going too far in either direction?

Actually, I kept wanting to push it! I found that sometimes, the people I was working with would say, “Uh, are you sure that is the way you want to go?” I remember working with Nick, the DP, saying, “Make it raw. Make it like an editorial. We really want it to be like this.” Nick said, “It doesn’t really look like a horror movie!” And I said, “Exactly!” [laughs] That was my point. I really wanted it to be stylized, different and to take on a different feel than what I had seen out there! While I wanted to stay true to what works, I also wanted to cross the line a little bit, have fun with it and break that boundary.

You are friends and have worked alongside with many of the players involved in this project, so you know their strengths as actors. What did you learn from that aspect of this project?

There were lots of surprises! [laughs] As awesome as it can be to work with friends, it can be difficult too because you do already have a relationship. You are dealing with a lot of different personalities and sticking them in a room where it is hot and there is a lot going on, it’s stressful. We shot the whole film in 10 days, so it was very challenging. You know your friends have your back and at other times it is easy for them to tell you when you are pissing them off, as opposed to a hired actor. A hired actor doesn’t have that comfort zone with you, where my friends do have it. As amazing as it can be to work with your friends, it definitely adds a unique challenge.

You also have another balancing act to handle as you make an appearance in the film. What was that experience like for you being an actress and director at the same time?

I do have a very, very, very small part in the movie and I also brought Michael Biehn (Terminator, The Victim) to do a small cameo. We are both in the scene together. Kane Hodder (Jason X, Hatchet) is also in the film and he has a much bigger part than I do. I actually came to set that day and realized, “Oh my God! I am working today!” [laughs] My mind was just not there. I am not sure if I am an actor who can be in front of and behind the camera at the same time. I am not sure yet! Actually, I am creating a web series with Alyssa Lobit. We just started a production company with Alyssa and Athena Lobit and are in the middle of creating a killer web series, which seemed only natural because we had been working so much together. I am going to take a crack at directing myself because I am going to be in it as well. I am going to start small and see how it goes! [laughs] But for my first directorial feature, I didn’t want to put myself in front of the camera for very long, so I was only in a couple of scenes. I did decide to do something but I can’t tell you because it would be a total spoiler! Let’s just say when I screened the movie in Los Angeles a couple of months ago, when I came on screen everyone started cheering, laughing and clapping! I got a really big reaction! I definitely did something in my movie that I wouldn’t have done in anybody else’s! That’s for sure! [laughs]

Danielle Harris: The Future of Horror

Do you view working with a smaller budget, as you did on “Among Friends,” as a blessing or a curse?

It is a little bit of both, I think. Part of my feels like, “Wow! It can only get easier from here!” A small budget can be a big challenge because when things fall apart, you don’t have money to fix it. You have to find other ways to do it and you don’t have any time to do it in, which can be really frustrating! At the same time, being able to pull off what we did with the limited budget is a testament to the friendships I have created along the way in my career. There are people ready and willing to step up and know that doing so will come back to them tenfold when my next movie has a bigger budget. I don’t think that I could ever shoot a film like that on limited funds again. It was hard. We had to go on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo to try and raise money for things like our deliverables for post because we just didn’t have it. It was things like that, having to raise $5,000 or we weren’t going to be able to finish the movie. A lot of movies don’t get made because of situations like that. However, I am lucky to have awesome fans who are willing to step up and help make sure the project happened! That shows me that I have the support from people who want to see me continue to direct and I am going to continue to pursue it!

When should we look for “Among Friends?” I know you have been in the process of seeking distribution.

Yeah! We have some distribution and we are pretty close to closing North America. We have a couple of other countries where our deals are almost done, which is pretty amazing because we really only finished the film before Cannes. Right now, we definitely have one country and two others with deals on the table. Hopefully, North America will close soon too! I think we are really, really close. I just want to put it out and see where the chips fall!

What’s next for you, Danielle? As an actress and as a filmmaker still looking for that next perfect script?

I just wrapped “Hatchet III” about a week and a half ago. I spent almost a month out in the swamps with Victor Crowley and the rest of the gang, getting the shit beat out of me for the lack of better words! [laughs] I am a little beat up and trying to recover from that fast and furious shoot. Right now, I am basically just doing the circuit and trying to do as many film festivals as I can. “Among Friends” is making the rounds as well as a movie that I did with John Jarratt and Casper Van Dien called “Shiver,” which is in quite a few international festivals as well as festivals in the States. “The Victim,” directed by Michael Biehn, is also doing quite a bit! Towards the end of the year, I will start doing the promotional tour for “Hatchet III.” I am trying to focus on all of that right now and I am going to take a little bit of time for vacation and recharge before returning to the web series, which is tentatively called “Pussy Posse.” It has been really fun creating that with Alyssa and creating our own thing. It has really let me find my own style and lets me do what I found out I love to do, which is direct. I actually prefer directing to acting! I think I will be moving more in that direction. I will always be an actor though, I can’t imagine not doing it, ya know?

Seeing you see the film industry from a different perspective than most people, meaning you grew up in it, you continue to act and now you direct, what is your take on the current state of the film industry?

Danielle Harris

I have felt for a while like there is really no middle-class. The film industry has kinda been the same way. It seems you either have these awesome independent films people are making for $50,000 or you have these $1 million budget movies that star the same people over and over again. As far as the horror genre, it is unfortunate because most horror movies are made, the ones that come my way at least, between $150,000 and $600,000 because they know the films will have a huge audience and they are going to sell it and make a lot of money. They don’t need to make a genre movie for $15 million because it doesn’t really make money, unless it is some really big movie. A lot of the audiences that come into see films are going to see films with movie stars. I don’t think a lot of movie stars want to do a “SAW” movie that is going to make a lot of money. The whole business is a little bit tricky right now. The economy is still in the toilet right now, so a lot of people don’t have money to do things like go to the movies. When movies come my way and I see the budget is $100,000, I don’t really want to get involved with that as an actor knowing how hard it is going to be on set and to do what we are supposed to do with no money. It is really difficult and people are doing it all the time. You do it because you love to do it. I just think we haven’t found our place yet and the movies they are making for a lot of money, like the Michael Bay movies and things like that are big and actiony or sci-fi stuff using green screen and lots of CGI, are the result of studios sticking to what they know works because they want to be sure they make their money back. They aren’t willing to take a chance on a film that might not hit. I get it but I am kinda tired of seeing it! I mean, let’s think of something a little bit innovative and see what happens!

I think a lot of people still underestimate the power of social media. How has it impacted you as an actress, director and businesswoman?

It’s amazing! Honestly, it is fascinating to me when I go to a signing or something and I hear people talking about “Among Friends” just from me tweeting about stuff or me interacting with fans. That is one of the reasons I have always done signings because it was my only opportunity to have people get to know me as me. You never know how people will perceive you and that is why I have done so many. Now, with Facebook, which I am admittedly pretty bad about, and Twitter, which I am pretty aggressive about, it’s great. It is a way for people to get to know you and if they are on your side, they are going to support you. I think it is really important to be accessible, so it has absolutely helped me 100%! For example, we are talking about it and you haven’t seen the movie yet. If social media didn’t exist, people wouldn’t be able to be on board with a project like this.

Danielle Harris

What’s the best part of being Danielle Harris these days?

Oh God! Jason, you always end these interviews with some question that makes me say, “Oh God!” [laughs]

Yeah, I know! [laughs] But seriously, I ask because it seems like you are at a really great point in your career, which is giving you a lot of unique opportunities.

There is a lot going on and the best part about it right now is that I feel renewed. I feel like I became an actor because it was sort of chosen for me, even though it seems that is what I am destined to do. I have said this for years but I don’t want people with children to force them into the entertainment industry. I think that is a decision you need to make as an adult. As much as I don’t regret it, people always say to me, “You always say you wanted to do movies!” And I am like, “Dude, I was like seven when I started doing it. I also wanted to be a princess, a doctor, a ballerina and a model!” [laughs] I think that is the best part of being me these days — finally being given an opportunity to choose my own path. A lot of people don’t get to do that. I didn’t go to college, so I just did what I knew I was supposed to do but it wasn’t necessarily what I would have done if I had had a chance to start over. I just did what had already worked for me and there was already a sort of branding thing in place where everything aligned for me and now I can do what truly inspires me! And I have the support of everyone behind me!

That’s a great outlook! Where’s the best place for people to learn more about the film and to follow your adventures online?

They can check out the “Among Friends” Facebook page and on Twitter at twitter.com/Among_Friends. Of course, you can always follow me, @halloweengal, on Twitter. I tweet all kinds of stupid stuff, as you know because you follow me. It’s usually something crazy like pictures of my dog or something ridiculous! [laughs] Any of those three are the places to go for more information.

Thanks for your time, Danielle! We are looking forward to spreading the word!

Awesome! I really appreciate it, as always! Thank you so much!

ABOUT THE FILM: AMONG FRIENDS is a twisted horror about a dinner party gone wrong. Set against an 80s backdrop, the good time takes a dark turn when one in the group hijacks the evening in an attempt to help the others come clean about their secret betrayals against one another–and is willing to cut through the bone in order to expose the truth.

Executive Produced by Jay Lobit (Three Little Birds Productions) and William Allison (Hollywood Treasures, Inc.), AMONG FRIENDS was shot in August 2011 in Los Angeles and is currently in Post Production.

This film marks a collaboration of real-life friends, with most people in the cast and crew having known each other for years. Written by Alyssa Lobit and Produced by Jennifer Blanc-Biehn and Athena Lobit, AMONG FRIENDS is the feature directing debut of Scream Queen Danielle Harris. This group of women collectively has decades of experience in the film industry and they are excited to be bringing fans and audiences everywhere a roller coaster ride of fun, intensity and, oh yes… blood.

Among Friends. This dinner party’s gonna be KILLER.

Directed by Danielle Harris, “Among Friends” stars Christopher Backus, Jennifer Blanc, AJ Bowen, Dana Daurey, Brianne Davis, Kane Hodder, Kamala Jones, Alyssa Lobit and Chris Meyer.

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Michael Biehn’s ‘The Victim’ Finds International Distributor, To Debut At Sitges Film Festival

Michael Biehn’s ‘The Victim’ Finds International Distributor, To Debut At Sitges Film Festival

Some exciting news in regard to Michael Biehn’s grindhouse thriller “The Victim”. Paris-based WTF has acquired all international sales rights to THE VICTIM, the grindhouse thriller which marks the feature directorial debut of renowned Fanboy star Michael Biehn.

Biehn also wrote, produced and stars alongside Jennifer Blanc-Biehn, Danielle Harris, Ryan Honey and Denny Kirkwood. The film was produced by Blanc/Bien Productions (Jennifer Blanc-Biehn, Lorna Paul and Travis Romero) and The Mud Show (Ryan Honey, Brock Morse and Morgan Johnson). THE VICTIM is the inaugural acquisition of WTF which was recently launched by former TF1 International senior sales executive Dimitri Stephanides. Kevin Iwashina and Christine D’Souza of Preferred Content represented the filmmakers and negotiated the deal with Stephanides. THE VICTIM will make its international premiere at the Sitges Film Festival in Spain on 7 and 8 October in a double feature with Hobo With A Shotgun.”

Swing by the official site of the film at www.grindhousethevictim.com for loads a look at the cast/crew and loads of stills from the film!

Synopsis: Good time girls ANNIE (Jennifer Blanc) and MARY (Danielle Harris) went into the wilderness looking for a good time. But when Annie witnesses a violent act at the hands of two Sheriff’s Deputies, she is forced on the run and stumbles across KYLE (Michael Biehn), a recluse living in the woods.  Two worlds collide in this psychological thriller that will make you question your trust in mankind. WHO IS THE VICTIM?

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Casper Van Dien Discusses His Career, New Projects & ‘Starship Troopers’

Casper Van Dien Discusses His Career, New Projects & ‘Starship Troopers’

Casper Van Dien exploded onto screens around the world in the 90s and quickly established himself as on of Hollywood’s most versatile young actors. It was that versatility that landed him his breakthrough role as “Johnny Rico” in Paul Verhoeven’s science-fiction adventure, ‘Starship Troopers’. It was during that time that he laid the groundwork for what would blossom into one of the most unique careers in the entertainment industry. Never afraid to experiment or to follow his keen instincts when it comes to a role, Casper Van Dien continues to surprise his fans with each new project. One of the most approachable and down-to-earth stars that one can encounter, Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Casper Van Dien during his appearance at one of horror’s premiere fan events, Monster Mania in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. It was there that the two discussed Van Dien’s professional influences, his role in upcoming film ‘Shiver’ where he stars alongside genre favorite Danielle Harris, his memories of being part of ‘Starship Troopers’ and much more!

Casper Van Dien

The entertainment industry is not for the faint of heart. When did you decide to pursue a career as an actor as opposed to going in a different direction?

I guess when I was a little kid would be the time that I first fell in love with it but it was at Florida State that I fell in love with the theater program. That is when I realized that I really wanted to be an actor. I guess you can blame it on my parents and wanting to meet girls! [laughs]

There is nothing wrong with that! It definitely seems to be working out for you from what I can tell!

Yeah, you could say that. [laughs]

If you had to cite one person as a professional influence, as you were coming up, who would it be?

Paul Verhoeven (Director of “Robocop,” “Total Recall,” “Basic Instinct,” “Showgirls” and “Starship Troopers”) would probably be my greatest professional influence that I have had because first he hired me but it was there where I came to see his work ethic. He was always the first one on the set and the last one to leave. He is the type of person that always has his creative juices flowing. He is always doing something and his mind is always going. It was a really intense experience to watch him. Paul and screenwriter Ed Neumeier, who wrote “Starship Troopers” have probably had the biggest effect on my career.

You have had have so many diverse characters in many different genres. What is your typical process for bringing a character from the script to the screen?

I think that it varies on every project. The process keeps evolving and getting a little bit better for me. It is a matter of learning as much as I can about the character, the role and what went into it. Then I may go to my acting coach and try to feel what it is like to be in the shoes of the person that I am portraying.

One of the films that we are most excited about seeing you in is “Shiver” with Danielle Harris (“Halloween 4,” “Halloween 5”, Rob Zombie’s “Halloween,” “Stakeland”). What attracted you to that project and what can you tell us about the role?

It is a passion piece for the producer. He wrote it a long time ago and has really been fighting to get it made. So that was really intriguing. It is based on a best-selling book that sold over a million copies and the character’s name (Detective Sebastian Delgado) is really cool! [laughs] I liked that. I thought that the director, Julian Richards, had done some really interesting work and I was thrilled to get a shot at working with him. Then I met Danielle Harris, who is just unbelievably amazing! She is the one that got me to come to Monster Mania, she is the one that got me on Twitter and Facebook as well. She was like, “Why aren’t you doing this? Why aren’t you doing that? You should be doing this!” There are a lot of things that I wouldn’t be doing if it wasn’t for her influence. She is an amazing actress, wonderfully talented and to watch her do her thing on set was phenomenal. She is phenomenal to work with and I loved every moment. In the film, I play Officer Sebastian Delgado, the cop, the good guy.

Do you find yourself drawn to darker films these days?

Darker films? I don’t know. I like a lot of different types of films but I would say that some of the darker ones have certainly appealed to me, which isn’t to say that I don’t like comedy as well. “True Romance” is one of my favorite films, a lot of Quentin Tarantino’s films are in there for me. I love a big variety of films. “Blade Runner” for example has a certain dark aspect to it that I find appealing and I loved “Robocop” too, which is dark and perverted in a way.

Will we see you stepping behind the camera for a directorial role in the future?

I would like to. We have a film that we wrote and we were close to getting produced and directed last year, we were close. Now, we are back into the funding side of things and trying to get that done. But yes, I am looking forward to that.

Your wife, Catherine Oxenberg, is going to potentially be a part of that film. Are you looking forward to working alongside her?

Absolutely, my wife is my favorite actress, bar none. She is the funniest person that I know and always challenges me to be a better man.

One of your most recognizable characters is that of Johnny Rico from “Starship Troopers.” What are your fondest memories of that experience?

Wow! Well, we shot the film in Casper, Wyoming. I remember that being kind of hysterical at the time, seeing everything named “Casper.” I enjoyed that! [laughs]

Did any street signs or anything like that go missing mysteriously during your stay there? [laughs]

No, no! [laughs] Too many morals for that! [laughs] But seriously, I remember sitting there each day, looking out onto the set and thinking, “Oh my God, I am so lucky.” I think that is one of the greatest moments for me, looking out onto that set with 1,400 extras in uniforms, the cast, the crew, everybody buzzing around and thinking, “Oh my God, I can’t believe that we are really doing this!” I remember one scene where Paul Verhoeven was shooting from Zulu and the Arachnids were coming over the bunker, all the Zulus were coming over their bunker. It was different shots like that that really blew me away! Getting an opportunity to watch a master filmmaker was a really incredible process.

The Legendary "Johnny Rico"

What was it like to to return to the role of Johnny Rico, years later, in “Starship Troopers 3: Marauder?”

I loved it! As I said, I love Edward Neumeier and he got his directorial debut. When he called me up and asked me if I would take part in the project, I said, “Ed, I would do anything for you!” It was a real thrill to be part of it and to put that uniform on again was awesome! The crew’s reaction to the film was really positive as well, it seemed like everyone wanted to take a picture with me! It was a lot of fun from start to finish.

Any chance we might see you reprise that role in the future? Any rumblings about the fate of Johnny Rico?

They just asked me to be involved with “Starship Troopers” anime, as a producer or an ambassador, so we will see. There are always rumblings of a possible television series and I would totally be up for it! The ball is in there court. I am ready!

Your career has been and continues to be very diverse. Is there a particular type of film or genre that you are anxious to tackle in the future?

I would like to get a good horror movie. I would like to get a good Academy Award winning type of film, I certainly would like to be involved with something like that. I would love to do some more art house stuff and some more studio blockbusters. The future is wide open!

How do you feel that you have evolved as an actor over the years?

I think that with age and maturity comes a certain sense of growth. Life experience changes us and I have definitely had a lot of different life experiences.

Do you think that there are any misconceptions out there about yourself that you can dispel?

I don’t live too much by misconceptions or people’s judgements. I think it is interesting when people make judgments on other people and sometimes I think that it is all that they have to do, maybe to make themselves feel better about themselves. That in itself is judgmental, but it is sometimes hard when someone makes an assumption on you without really taking a good look.

Any plans on capturing the life experiences that you mentioned in the form of an autobiography at some point?

I don’t know if I am ready for that yet but we will see! [laughs]

Casper Van Dien and Danielle Harris at Monster Mania - August 2011

You mentioned Danielle Harris and her turning you on to Facebook and Twitter. How satisfying is it to be able to connect with your fans instantly?

It has actually been a lot more fun than I ever thought that it would be. I really enjoy the connection and their reactions to what I put up. I really enjoy the people’s excitement and their dedication, it is cool to be connected to that and be more present and aware of it. Where as before, if you aren’t looking, you might not know as much. It is interesting, on Facebook a lot of the fan groups have named me as an administrator of their Johnny Rico or “Starship Troopers” pages, which is really fantastic to be a part of.

We are catching up with you today at Monster Mania in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, where a lot of fans have come out to meet you. Is this one of your first conventions and how are you enjoying the experience so far?

This is one of my first. I had done one before in Florida and one out in LA but this is my first time out here and my first horror convention. I like Monster Mania a lot! This place is full of interesting people and I love getting a chance to see some of the people that I have worked with over the years. It is a very positive experience and I hope to make it out here again in the future.

Anything that you would like to say to your fans and the legions of “Starship Troopers” fans out there?

NEVER GIVE UP! NEVER SURRENDER! It’s a quote from “Galaxy Quest.” You have to pay your respects! It’s a great quote and words to live by!

– –

Follow Casper Van Dien on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest news and information on his projects!

 

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Danielle Harris Dishes On ‘Stake Land’ and Upcoming Projects!

Danielle Harris Dishes On ‘Stake Land’ and Upcoming Projects!

Danielle Harris is a certainly a familiar face to fans of the horror genre. Her role as little Jamie Lloyd from ‘Halloween 4? and ‘Halloween 5? laid the groundwork for what would blossom into one of the most unique careers in Hollywood’s most challenging genre. Never afraid to experiment or to follow her keen instincts when it comes to a role, Danielle continues to surprise her fans with each new project, be it in front of or now behind the camera! Besides her strong work ethic, her “no bullshit” approach to life, coupled with a winning smile and kick-ass personality, make her one of the most approachable and down-to-earth stars that one can encounter. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently sat down with Danielle to discuss her latest film ‘Stake Land,’ discuss the current fate of her highly anticipated autobiography, her upcoming film projects and much more!

You have a habit of selecting some very unique roles and projects that suit you very well. How did you first get involved with ‘Stake Land’?

Danielle HarrisThank you! Ya know, for this project, they kinda signed me. I wish I could say that I could go out and look for these awesome movies but I have been really lucky about having some really rad people contacting about doing these unique projects. It is kind of an interesting story. I was on Fangoria Radio when I was promoting ‘Halloween II’ and the group that was online with me was Larry Fessenden and Jim Mickle. I didn’t know who either one of them were at the time but we were all chit-chatting. I hung up the phone and a few weeks later I got a call from my manager saying that I had an offer for this independent movie called ‘Stake Land’.

They wanted to book me out for five months because there is a big break in the middle and wanted to start in August and not go back until November and then in December. Which was totally taking me out for getting any job for the second half of the year. But when I read it and thought, “Wow! Belle is throughout most of the story but doesn’t really have much to do.” I had three scenes or three lines. I was thinking, “What the hell am I going to do in Upstate New York, freezing my ass off and looking like a fat ass because I am pregnant in the film. Do I really want to do this movie?” [laughs] But I loved the script and I loved the relationships but there was so much that was left unsaid. It was really all about Jim Mickle and Nick Damici and how open they were to creating that as we went. From there, I decided to watch their film ‘Mulberry Street’. I called Jim to see if he was going to use the same DP as he used on that film because what the film looks like was going to play a major part in the story. It was such a big deal because if it didn’t look as beautiful as it does, I mean the film is fantastic, but the look is such a big part of it. He said that he was indeed using the same DP and as I talked to him I just said, “Ya know what? I want to do it! I have never played a character that was so much like me!” In all of the movies that I have done before I play a bad-ass or a sassy girl or a girl who has a real edge to her and, while that may be a part of who I am, I am actually a bit more like “Belle” in real life. I am kinda the mom, the caretaker, the nurturer to everyone. I felt like no one had ever really seen that side of me on film. I felt this film was a great opportunity to showcase those aspects.

I told Jim I would do it and before I knew it I flew off to Philadelphia and I stayed at Jim’s friends guest house and met the rest of the gang. We sort of created the characters as we continued because we kinda shot it in sequence, due to the changes in seasons and the weather changes. We became a family and I think that it shows on screen because you can really see the relationships starting to build as the movie progresses and I think that it has a lot to do with what was really happening behind the scenes as well, in real life. It is really fun for me to watch because I remember all of those days  and having to work fast and furious and freezing our butts off!

It sounds like you had a lot of great experiences in making the film. Any that spring to mind that you can share with us?

Danielle HarrisI remember day one where one of the scenes we are climbing down some mountain and I am afraid of heights! I am also wearing a dress and cowboy boots, I have a big belly and a backpack and a gun! Jim was like, “We’re gonna start here and cross this waterfall and climb way down there!” I looked at him and said, “You are kidding right?!!!” [laughs] And he was like, “No.” So, I was just like ,“Oh shit! Okay!!! Here we go!” [laughs]

My favorite scene in the movie for me is a scene where Belle just can’t go any further. She sits down on a rock and has that moment. “Mister” comes and swoops her up and she says, “My daddy used to carry me like this when I was a little girl.” and says, “I’m not your Daddy, kid” and we have that little hard ass line. I didn’t know how it was going to work. The first time it came out of my mouth, I just got hysterical and started crying. And then Nick started crying. I just thought, “Oh my god! This is magic!” because we had found “it!” Originally, Belle was supposed to be Mister’s love interest. When I got to set, it just didn’t work. It just didn’t feel right. There was something about it that didn’t mesh. We started to nix that and started to figure out the question of: “If she isn’t Mister’s love interest, who is she?” I sorta became the daughter, the mom, the sister, the wife, kinda fitting all of the feminine shoes and I was able to play all of those women in one and show a very soft side as well.

And I have to say that I don’t think that I have ever looked better on film! Not to toot my own horn! [laughs] I just don’t think I have ever looked better! I have never had more dirt and shit and horrible clothes and no makeup and no sleep and freezing my ass off and all of those things that you have to really be OK with yourself as a person to look that way on film! I mean, I am not an actor that gives a crap about that anyway. I mean, you have seen the movies that I have done before! I never get to look glamorous or be pretty in a movie! [laughs] Well, not for long anyway!

So, all those elements helped to show a very vulnerable side of me that I have never been able to do before. I don’t have a dad in real life. He passed away when I was little. I think that if my dad was around he reminded me so much of Nick because my dad was from Brooklyn and kind of a hard, edgy, chain smoker, with a kinda quiet bad guy type edge. I think that it was there from the very beginning, so since I didn’t have a real-life relationship with my dad, that I was able to create that on film with the Mister character and in that scene, you can see it a little bit. It came from love and I think that is why this movie is so close to my heart.

You are regarded as a horror icon at this point in your career. What does your experience with the genre allow you to bring to a project like this?

Ya know, not with Jim. Jim is such a visionary. He is just so smart and talented. He knew exactly what he wanted. Working with Nick for as long as he has and knowing that they are so passionate about it, I didn’t really have to do anything but show up! They were so open with what we wanted to do and letting us create and play. I have been so lucky, having done so many horror movies, that most of the directors are usually, if not always are fan-boys. They have grown up loving this industry and the genre and know it better than I do, even though I have been living it my whole life! They are just so excited to a) be making a movie and b) to have me on set. So, it is rare to have an opportunity like ‘Stake Land.’ It was a great playground! There is definitely nothing that I could teach Jim! We all did these short films that will be online in the coming weeks that tell the back stories of all the characters, because the movie just throws you into the middle and you don’t know where anyone has come from. That is something that I really love. There is no exposition, it just is what it is and where they have come from is not important, it’s about where they are going. We did want to explain a little bit of that.

Seeing that I am trying to direct now and I am trying to get some projects together, mostly in the horror genre because that is where I want to stay for a while, because this is what I know and I love! There are no females that do this and all the leads are female most of the time, which I know because I am the lead most of the time! [laughs] Anyway, they offered me the opportunity to direct one of the back stories for “Lily”. I wrote it, directed it, shot it and loved it! It was amazing but like any other first time director, there were things that I just needed an opinion on. I called Jim and said, “I need you to watch this. Something is just not working and I need your help!” He did and between himself, Larry Fessenden and Graham Reznick, who edited it along with doing the sound design for ‘Stake Land’, who is brilliant, we were able to figure out what the issue was and we fixed it. It is unbelievable now! So, if anything, I learned from these guys! It is the Adam Greens and the Rob Zombies and while I may have worked on more movies than they have, I learn from them!

That is great! It is exciting to hear that you are taking that step to be behind the camera!

Thank you!

When we spoke last year, I know you had been working on an autobiography to chronicle your life in the industry. I wanted to touch base with you on that and find out the status of that project.

Danielle HarrisI had hired a writer and we wrote quite a bit together, because I am not a writer. I am a great storyteller and a great reviser but when telling your own story, it is kind of hard to take yourself out of it. We worked together for a while on it but when I got the outline of what each chapter was going to be about it just didn’t sound like my voice. It was more about who I knew in Hollywood growing up, in the industry and my generation. Ya know, I am kind of in between River Phoenix and Lindsay Lohan, in that little group. In real life, my boyfriend now is Corin Nemec, you know from ‘Parker Lewis’ and ‘Stargate’ and a bunch of genre projects as well. We went to Corey Feldman’s house a couple weeks ago for his house warming! So, as you can see, I live in this weird little world but these are my friends. I think that what was happening was that I wanted to tell the real story about my life and my struggles and me as a person but all that was coming up was these kind of “Hollywood” or “What would sell in a book” for someone that didn’t know anything about the horror series. That isn’t really what I am interested in writing. I think that is why I have had such great success and have fans say that they love reading or hearing what you say and we are fans because “you keep it real!” With me, there is no bullshit! I don’t want to sugar coat my life.

In my life, like I mentioned earlier, I didn’t grow up with a dad because he died when I was a little girl. He was in the mafia. My parents sold drugs. I have this really crazy story that I want to tell because it is really important to me. It just didn’t read well. I thought, “this is just garbage.” I am not going to write a book just because I am trying to sell something. That is not me. So I nixed it, until I can write it myself or find a writer that wants to keep it real. I don’t care if five people buy it but for me to sell 5 million copies it has to be “Hollywood crap” and I just don’t want to do it.

I also read that you had an animated series of sorts based on your life. What can you tell us about that?

That is with the guys at Halo 8! We go back and forth! Poor Matt Pizzolo can never track me down! [laughs] That all started with me being sort of fascinated with animation side and graphic novel side of things which I haven’t really tapped into except for when we worked on ‘Godkiller’. Matt is so creative and I thought it would be so cool to do something else together. I wanted to present the idea of what it is like to grow up in the horror genre and be with all my other little friends in that genre or who grew up on TV shows and show what our real lives are like. I mean, it is kind of funny, I went to New York City for ‘Hatchet II’ and there was this whole big party at Planet Hollywood and I brought a hatchet with me. I was posing on stage with this hatchet and there are about eight people who have come to see me! It is just kind of funny to me! This is so ridiculous that this is going on the wall! My hatchet! It’s kind of like that or the conventions that I do where there are a bunch of has-been ‘80s actors, who are actually very talented, working genre actors, mixed in with porn stars or wrestlers! [laughs] So, I kinda want to incorporate all of that kind of stuff into an animated series for Adult Swim or an adult oriented animated show like that. But I have so much going on that it sometimes takes a back seat.

What’s happening with Horrorgal.com?

I am still trying to get that up and running. I have so much video and footage for that but I just take on too many things at once and nothing ever gets done! [laughs] I am trying to tackle one thing at a time right now.

What other projects are on the horizon for you?

Danielle Harris

I will tell you what I have already finished that will be coming out this year. I have ‘Night of The Living Dead: Origins 3D’ with Bill Moseley (House of 1000 Corpses) and Tony Todd (The Candyman). That is a CGI, 3D animated film for Sony. I play “Barbara” and it is set in current day New York City. From what I have seen, it looks out of this world! Literally, so bad-ass! I also have have ‘The Victim’ with Michael Beihn (Terminator) and Jennifer Blanc. They are two very good friends of mine and you can check out the film at www.grindhousethevictim.com. I play a coke-head stripper which is something that I have not done before! [laughs] So, that was kinda fun, especially since Jennifer is one of my best friends and it was great to be able to work with her. My favorite work as an actor so far is a film that I finished at the end of last year called ‘Shiver’ with John Jarratt, who I adore. Julian Richards directed the film. It is a role that I had a really hard time with emotionally. It is a really dark and horrible, psychological thriller and it is quite fantastic! I have never worked harder in my entire life! That is saying a lot for all the people who have seen what I went through in ‘Hatchet II,’ it literally almost killed me! [laughs] I am really proud of all that work! I am in a movie called ‘The Trouble With The Truth’ with John Shea and Lea Thompson, just the opening scene and it is not a horror movie! I am obsessed with ‘80s movies so I had to work with the two of them! ‘Hatchet III’ has been greenlit and I just signed on to do a movie called ‘Unbroken’ with Tony Todd, who is a buddy of mine. It is a small part in an independent movie but I love the script and really want to be part of it!Thanks for you time, Danielle!

Thank you!

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Be sure to follow Danielle Harris on Twitter at www.twitter.com/halloweengal. Also, check out our exclusive interview with Jim Mickle and Nick Damici about the creation of ‘Stake Land’ at this location. >

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Jim Mickle and Nick Damici Discuss All Things ‘Stake Land’

Jim Mickle and Nick Damici Discuss All Things ‘Stake Land’

One of the most exciting duos in independent film is about to unleash their latest creation on the world of cinema. Jim Mickle and Nick Damici wowed audiences with their first collaboration known as ‘Mulberry Street’ and now they are back to raise the bar once more in independent film, not to mention the horror genre, with their new film ‘Stake Land.”

The film focuses on a young boy named Martin, played by Gossip Girl’s Connor Poulo, who is about to learn how cruel the world can become. Martin was a normal teenager before the country collapsed in an empty pit of disaster. When an epidemic of vampirism strikes, humans find themselves on the run from vicious, feral beasts. Cities are tombs and survivors cling together in rural pockets, fearful of nightfall. When his family is slaughtered, young Martin (Gossip Girl’s Connor Paolo) is taken under the wing of a grizzled, wayward hunter (In the Cut’s Nick Damici) whose new prey are the undead. Simply known as Mister, the vampire stalker takes Martin on a journey through the locked-down towns of America’s heartland, searching for a better place while taking down any bloodsuckers that cross their path. Along the way they recruit fellow travellers, including a nun (Kelly McGillis) who is caught in a crisis of faith when her followers turn into ravenous beasts. Belle (Danielle Harris), a pregnant young woman desperate to reach New Eden with her unborn child. As you can imagine, skirting the undead on a cross country journey is the just the start of this group’s worries. This ragtag family unit cautiously moves north, avoiding major thoroughfares that have been seized by The Brethren, a fundamentalist militia headed by Jebedia Loven (Tony award-winning actor Michael Cerveris) that sees the plague as the Lord’s work.

Icon Vs. Icon’s Jason Price recently caught up with Jim Mickle and Nick Damici to discuss their creation, the process of bringing it from script to screen, the challenges involved and what lies in store for this dynamic duo in the months to come!

Jim Mickle and Nick Damici

We are always told that the entertainment industry is not for the faint of heart. When did you decide to pursue a career in the industry as opposed to going in a different direction?

Jim Mickle: Ya know, I grew up being into a lot of different things, from writing to photography to magic tricks. I grew up wanting to become a special effects artist and I was very interested in doing sound. I liked that film lets you play in every part of the creative process, it lets you make an art out of other art forms.

Nick Damici: Well, I kinda tried a lot of different stuff, but it didn’t work! [laughs] I found myself writing and acting and that is really what I always wanted to do. I worked for UPS for almost nine years before I realized that I didn’t want to do that. I just wanted to be an actor, so since then, that has been my focus!

If you had to cite one person as a professional influence, as you were coming up, who would it be?

Jim Mickle: Originally, it was Sam Raimi. That was who, when I was 13 and saw the ‘Evil Dead’ movies, it was the first time I realized that someone was having fun with it and injecting personality and style and doing it in an interesting way. That sorta fascinated me early on. But growing up, the fun part was evolving and letting that interest leap from one to another. I don’t think there was one overall person but Raimi was the initial spark that started it. There are elements of a lot of people’s careers that I really admire.

Nick Damici: I would honestly have to say Harvey Keitel because he maintains his integrity as an actor. He hasn’t reached the level of super stardom that some of his peers have — he hasn’t sold out, lets put it that way! That moves me more than some of these guys who get too big and start doing boring work because they are more interested in money than the work.

This is your second project together. We wanted to give everyone a little background on your collaboration. How did you two first meet up?

Nick Damici: Jim was working on a student film that I took a part in for a friend of mine, who was a teacher at NYU. I’m going back to 2001. He was helping out as a grip on a one of his buddy’s movies and we just hit it off. We were at a camp, a creepy cabin place up in Connecticut. It was really creepy and the owner kept looking in everyones windows! It just became this kinda, “We should be making this movie!” thing. So we just hit it off there and Jim did his thesis film that year, ‘The Underdogs.’ I took a small part in that and we got more and more friendly as we did that and decided that we wanted to do a movie together. It took us a couple of years but we finally got ‘Mulberry Street’ done and now ‘Stake Land’ is our second effort! It’s been 10 years but we’re getting there! [laughs]

What is the most satisfying part of your collaboration?

Nick Damici: The fact that he is the only person that I have ever teamed up with where we actually get stuff done! [laughs] We have made two movies together and hopefully we will get to make more at this point! So yeah, it is definitely the fact that we get things done. We also really compliment each other. He is a little younger than I am, he is more visual. He is the cinematic guy and I am the literature guy. When we work together, I really feel that our personalities blend and come out in a way that we can appeal to a much broader audience.

Jim Mickle: Seeing it work. Being together for 10 years, it isn’t like we grew up together but we met and had very similar interests and they are both kinda weird! We kinda have the same guilty pleasures when it comes to films, the kinda films that you would be embarrassed to say that you liked, the other guy agreed on! I graduated from school and didn’t know what I was going to do. We spent a lot of time together hanging out at the bar, having a drink and complaining about the sorta movies that were getting made. I think that happens a lot of times to people, but to have the opportunity to put your money where your mouth is and actually do your own thing is rare. I think the first time around we were happy that anyone went out and saw our movie. To see it go out and have a life of its own and have the opportunity to do that a second time and see if the second film can have a bigger life is really cool. We have done things on a small scale so we haven’t had to compromise and have been able to make the kinda movies that we want to make. It is kinda fun to come out the other end of the process and see that if you make something that you really want to see and trust that other people will also want to see it, that actually comes true.

For the uninitiated, what initially sparked the idea for ‘Stake Land’?

Nick Damici: ‘Stake Land’ originally came about because we were down on our luck and not getting anything done after ‘Mulberry Street’ and were waiting for another project to get done, that looked like it wasn’t going to get done. I said, “Look, Jim, we gotta do something!” So I wrote a bunch of web-isodes based on a guy teaching a kid how to kill vampires. I figured it was something cheap that we could do in our genre. I wrote 30 web-isodes and at that point we got them to Larry Fessenden who was in ‘Mulberry Street’. Larry loved them and loved the idea. Then he got a deal with MPI to do a movie. Him and Jim had discussed wanting to work together, so when he saw this he suggested making it a feature. At that point, we had to create a new world because the web-isodes were set in the modern world. We came up with this apocalyptic world. Obama was running for president, so we thought we could include the civil rights angle and have the Klan in there but call it The Brotherhood. With these elements, we were able to let this world create itself … “What would happen if America collapsed?” and at the time the pig flu was coming in from Mexico, so that worked its way into the script. The virus that creates the vampires came from Mexico. We just let this world dictate the journey that these characters had to take and of course, Canada would be the place that you could be safe and runaway to when you are in trouble, like Americans always do.

You assembled a very talented cast. What was the casting process like for the other roles in the film and was it difficult to find the right mix of people to achieve the end product that you were aiming for?

Nick Damici: We were very lucky because we didn’t have much choice on who we were casting. We were looking for any names that we could get, obviously. Connor Paolo came along through the casting director. He has got a steady job on ‘Gossip Girl’ and is a successful young actor. We were like, “Why would he want to do this movie? We aren’t payin’ much!” [laughs] He just loved the script and wanted to come along for the ride! Danielle Harris was the same way. I couldn’t believe that we got her. It was one after another. I was shocked and surprised that these great actors wanted to do the movie. Jim and I were nobody at that point. We had done ‘Mulberry Street’ but that was it. And Kelly McGillis, I was bowled over that she would do our movie.

What did the actors bring to the film that you may not have been expecting?

Jim Mickle

Jim Mickle: Connor’s part, at first when the script was written I thought that it was one of those roles where you find a kid, pluck him out of obscurity, throw him in your movie, pair him up with this sort of hard-ass guy, see what sparks fly and really make an actor out of a no-name kid. That was my original idea for the role. But when the idea of using Connor came up, I sorta rejected it because I wanted someone vulnerable and here is this guy who has played Alexander The Great and is on ‘Gossip Girl’ arguing with adults and holding his own! [laughs] Every time I see him, he is a very confident kid and a terrific actor. He brings all these elements in his own personality that I didn’t think “Martin” was. His ability to breakdown a character and a story and find out how he fits into that while having no ego about it. He really understands the film making process.

It sorta became a triangle with myself, Nick and Connor where we were slowly building the characters very organically. Kelly was great and brought a history to it along with a dramatic weight. That was a very important aspect because we do take a lot off shots at religion in the film. Her character represents all the good things that we thought about religion. I think it was a situation where if you cast that part wrong, the whole house of cards falls apart. We couldn’t have hit it more on the head or have been more truthful with her. Danielle is a working actress and brought a real energy to the film. To be honest, she probably has more experience than anyone else on the film and she still has a love for film making and a real appreciation for it. It was pretty amazing. I sorta love that the cast is a rag-tag bunch of people with different backgrounds and experiences. That was the same thing with the movie, you didn’t have to hide that and could use it to your advantage in showing this little band of family trying to survive.

Nick, what was the biggest challenge for you in either the script-writing phase or as an actor on this project?

Nick Damici: For me it was that I am not a kid anymore, I am over 50! [laughs] It was stamina, ya know! You go in there and there are all these young people and we are shooting three weeks at a clip, I am camping, sleeping on a cot, so that is always tough. It is a physical thing. You either do it or ya don’t. You just have to suck it up. I want to do as much of that as I can now because as I get older, I realize I am not going to have that kinda stamina. For me that was the challenge. The process was a labor of love. I built all of my props. I carved all the stakes that I used, I made my pants, my shoes and a bow and arrow. So that part I really enjoyed, becoming the character by doing things that he would do. The challenges were much more on the production end and on Jim’s end. Orchestrating and getting people together, which fortunately, I didn’t have to do!

What does the future hold for a potential sequel?

Jim Mickle: We have given thought to it. There is plenty of material. We have actually started releasing these prequels online that give you some background on the characters. We had a lot of extra material and we sorta wanted to open up the world. Yeah, we are really just waiting to see how the movie does and if people enjoy it and if it warrants a sequel. I think Nick and I have both said that it would be fun to come back in a few years, give it some breathing time, and she how the actors and characters have changed and the world has changed. It will also be interesting to see how America has changed. This film is very much a commentary on America. I think it is very interesting from the time that we wrote it, to the time that it premiered, to the time that it is opening in theaters that we have evolved in three very different stages … it seems the world is going to be more interesting the longer we wait! [laughs]

Nick Damici

Nick Damici: Yeah, my take on it is that if we did a sequel, I would want enough downtime to have the world and the characters change enough that it would be a different story. I keep telling our main producers that I will do the sequel if they give me flying vampires and lots of money! So we will see what happens! [laughs]

Being a seasoned vet of the film industry. What is the best piece of advice that you would give to young filmmakers and actors?

Jim Mickle: The best advice I can give is to just do it. I think that if you wait for opportunities, they are a one in a million shot. If you just go and do it, you are only going to get better and you are only going to learn from doing things yourself. There are so many people fighting for so few positions that I think you have to carve your own path. I think that if we hadn’t made ‘Mulberry Street’ that I would still be editing or in the back of the grip truck talking about how one day I am going to make a movie, waiting on someone to give me a million dollars and say, “Go do it!” So, do something of your own and put your stamp on it.

Nick Damici: Do anything else you can but become an actor! [laughs] The bottom line is that it is a long haul. Ya know, I’m not rollin’ in bucks. It is a hard life. It is not a life that you can support a family on unless you are super successful. I don’t have kids, so I can do what I want to do but if I had kids, I would be working a job like everybody else. I don’t think it is something that you should pursue unless you can’t do anything else. That would be my advice. I remember David Niven said in his autobiography that “an actor should always have another job.” That is so true because the work is few and far between unless you get very lucky. I think that if you are tenacious enough, and I think that is the case with me, I have stuck in there and I got a few breaks finally after many years and we will see what happens with that, but I could easily have not gotten those breaks and could be a waiter right now. I don’t think it is something that you should encourage people to do unless they absolutely don’t want to do anything else. I think too many people try to become actors because they like the romance of it. It’s like becoming a brain surgeon because of the money. I don’t think you should do that unless you are really into being a brain surgeon, ya know! [laughs]

Is there a particular type of film or genre that you are anxious to tackle in the future that you may not have been able to take on yet?

Nick Damici: That is an interesting question. Yeah. In this one, we kinda did a western. Jim and I have always wanted to do a western and we kinda consider ‘Stake Land’ our western. I’d like to do a real western one day but I would also like to do a period piece, 13th century or something like that. Anything different, really. I am not that interested in the modern world, I don’t think it is that interesting of a place. I think it is twittered out and boring at this point. That is why ‘Stake Land’ took place in another world. Contemporary stuff just doesn’t interest me. I would love to do a detective thing set back in the ‘30s, ‘40s or ‘50s. I love those kinda films.

Do you ever take a moment to look back at your work and give thought to how you have evolved as an actor over the years?

Nick Damici: Yeah, it is natural. As you get older, you get more confident. With the more stuff you do, the more confident you get. I think that I have a lot more confidence in what I do and professionalism is obviously experience. I don’t get butterflies anymore, where I used to. I don’t get nervous anymore and I think that brings a realism to the characters that I play, they are behaving and not pretending to behave anymore. I think that is one of my assets as an actor. I am a no bullshit actor. I am not a high brow actor, it’s not rocket science, just do it! [laughs]

What is on the horizon for you two in the coming months?

Jim Mickle: We adapted a book called ‘Cold In July’ by Joe Landsdale who wrote ‘Bubba Hotep’ a few years back. It is sort of a country-noir, sort of a modern western that takes place in 1989 in East Texas. It is a very twisty-turny, small town crime thriller. We adapted that a couple years ago and just last night got the word that it looks like it is actually going to happen. Hopefully, we will be shooting that in the summer time!

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If you want to see more or support the film, be sure to visit the official Facebook page for ‘Stake Land’!

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