Interview with Michelle Danner

Michelle Danner directed, produced and has a role in the upcoming film “Hello Herman” staring Norman Reedus. Michelle took a few minutes away from editing the film to talk with Movie Mikes about the project as well as some of her other projects.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us how you got into the film business?
Michelle Danner: I think it is something in my genes. My dad was a producer and was responsible for opening the William Morris Agency in Paris quite some time ago. I always loved movies and theater so it was something I was just destine for.

AL: Can you tell us about your new film “Hello Herman”?
MD: “Hello Herman” is a film that I think is very socially relevant right now. Norman Reedus plays a journalist that is sent to interview a teenager sentenced to death for a massacre at his high school. The teen’s execution is to slated to be televised live. I think the film is a very powerful social commentary about how and why these types of incidents occur.

AL: How did you come up with the idea for the film?
MD: I found this script from John Buffalo Mahler and just felt it was a very powerful story. I decided I would mount the film on stage with three screens using multi-media and live feeds. This sparked some really great debates. I had also taken the script and done a read through with one of my acting classes. Afterwards one of my students came up to me and said she could see light in my eyes. I thought then that the script would make a great movie. So it all really started from that first read through.

AL: Do you have a release date yet for the film?
MD: I actually just stepped out of the editing room, so I am working on it as we speak. I am hoping to be done by the end of the summer. We have offers from a few distributors as well as a website so there is quite a buzz right now. We may hold off on distribution and take it to some festivals.

AL: You also have a role in the film correct?
MD: Yes. I play the Herman’s mother. When I staged the play I also played the same role. I really wanted to give that character a voice and show her point of view. The parents are always the ones that seem to take the blame, so I wanted to show that sometimes that might not always be the case.

AL: From acting, directing or producing do you have one that’s a favorite?
MD: I love to direct but I did start out as an actress, so I love that too! I think acting is a great way to express yourself creatively and artistically. I also really enjoy teaching acting. I am fortunate that I get to do all of those things.

AL: “Hello Herman” was actually your second film where you both acted and directed, correct?
MD: Yes. The first film I did was called “How to Go Out on a Date in Queens” which was the Memorial Day movie of the week on ABC. I am really proud of that film as I think the subject matter is something that really needs to be discussed.

AL: Do you find it hard to juggle both acting and directing?
MD: Not so much as I never usually give myself a lead role. I generally just do a few scenes. I also have some very trusted people who help out when I have a scene and they tell me if the shot works or not.

AL: Can you tell us about your appearance on “Late Night with Conan O’Brian”?
MD: (Laughs) that was great. That segment aired during the first month of Conan’s show and at first it was supposed to be only a couple minutes or so. I played this very straight character to Andy Richter who was coming to learn how to be an announcer. The people from the show ended up liking so much of what was being shot that the segment turned into almost 10 minutes. I really had a good time and it was fun to improv with Andy.

AL: Do you have any other projects you can tell us about?
MD: I have a movie titled “The Bandit Hound”, which is a family movie and something very different from “Hello Herman”. This movie will be something my eight year old son will be able to watch. Right now I have a portfolio full of some really interesting projects that I plan on doing.

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