Danielle Harris talks about her new film “Camp Dread”

She was little Jamie Lloyd in “Halloween IV: The Return of Michael Myers”; the angst-ridden Annie Bracket in Rob Zombie’s “Halloween”; and the blood-covered, butt-kicking Marybeth Dunston in “Hatchet II”. For over twenty-five years Danielle Harris has been a key figure – and fan favorite – of the horror genre. I recently talked with her about the newly released “Camp Dread” and the future of horror films.

B.C. Allen: How did you become a part of “Camp Dread”?
Danielle Harris: I’m very close friends with Felissa (Rose). Felissa called and said she is doing this movie and Eric Roberts was attached, and that my scenes would be with him, and then I was like “Oh my, god! Okay, great.”

BCA: So you and Felissa knew each other already, presumably from horror conventions?
DH: Yeah, there’s not a lot of like, you know, chicks, I would say – believe it or not – at these conventions that I would go to the bar and hang out and have a glass of wine with. We both have younger husbands in common, so we’ve definitely chatted about that. She’s a bit of a cougar like myself. She was all encouraging when I met my husband; so yeah, we’ve become good friends over the years. The industry, the genre, the community itself is so small that there’s a lot of B.S. that goes around about people pretending to make movies or wanting to make movies, and you don’t really know what’s real and what’s not real. And because of the tight-knit community, when your friend calls you and says “We’re doing this movie”, then you know that it’s the real deal. It’s always good to get one of those calls.

BCA: How was it working with Eric Roberts?
DH: You know, I didn’t get to work with him too much. As you saw, I only had a couple of scenes in the movie. But I have been a fan of his work for a long time. It was awesome.

BCA: In 2012 you directed your first feature-length film, “Among Friends.” Is directing and producing something you would prefer to do instead of acting? Or would you want to do all three at the same time?
DH: I don’t love producing – I just like having control over the final cut of the movie, essentially. You lose a little bit of power when you’re not a producer. But I would not put myself in a lead role in a movie that I directed; maybe a supporting role. That seems like a lot of hats, when you’re already wearing like fifty hats as a director. I do really enjoy directing. It’s nice to be able to hold onto a project for more than a couple of weeks.

BCA: You’re sort of a key figure in three film franchises: the original “Halloween” series, the Rob Zombie versions of “Halloween”, and the “Hatchet” series. Do you feel a sense of brand loyalty? For instance, if you were offered a role in a “Friday the 13th” reboot, or another “Nightmare on Elm Street” film would you do it? Or would you turn it down so you don’t upset your fans?
DH: It’s difficult, because it always depends on the director. If Joe Dante was doing “Gremlins” again and suddenly they wanted me to play the lead, I would do it in a heartbeat. It just depends on what it is. It gets tricky, you know, to do a reboot of “Nightmare”; I think people would get tired of seeing me in that stuff. It’s kind of good to come in on the second one like I did with “Hatchet” and like I did with “See No Evil 2”.

BCA: Has “See No Evil 2” finished production?
DH: Yea, we’re done. And we’re looking at an October release.

BCA: The majority of your fans were born in the eighties. Many more were born in the nineties. And most of them view you as the one-and-only “Scream Queen.” Would you agree with that perception?
DH: I think it’s actually the older fans that think of me like that, because you guys kind of grew up with me. There are so many actresses that are doing these movies, so I think that I may be their scream queen. They like to watch me kick ass; which is great. It works for me. I think I’ve been accessible and I think that’s been a really big part of it. I’ve been really active in the community, been really personable with the fans, and done a lot of conventions, and gotten to know people on different levels. I think that’s what made them like me more. Not to say that what I do on film is better than anybody else. I just maybe connected with them on a different level.

BCA: Can you think of any actress coming up now, who may be the next “Scream Queen”?
DH: There are very few actresses who do a lot of movies in the genre. Very few, like me, who do a lot of the same kinds of movies. With “See No Evil 2”, Katie Isabelle, I think is wonderful. She was amazing in “American Mary”. She is someone that I enjoyed getting a chance to work with. Because it was cool to watch her do her thing. Usually in these movies I am the only girl most of the time. When I am going through all the stuff I am going through, there are not a lot of girls around. It’s just usually me and some big monster. It was cool to watch her prepare for shooting in the same way that I do; making yourself hyperventilate, and running around in circles, forcing yourself to gag and be hysteric and screaming in the corner. All those things that I know I do, that I’ve never seen anyone else do before. And I got the chance to see her do it, which is kind of cool.

BCA: We see a lot of young actress do a film in this genre, early on, just to get work, but as you said very few stay within it? Why do you think that is?
DH: If you find your niche you want to stay with it. But I think a lot of representation wants to get you out of it. Once you are in it, you have to like it. If fans like you, you aren’t going anywhere.

BCA: Speaking of fans, there are several different social network accounts that are Danielle Harris related. For example there’s an Instagram account called @DanielleHarris_ScreamQueen, which is always posting pictures of you and promoting your films. What do you think of their efforts?
DH: I am amazed. The stuff that they put together is fantastic. I had to turn the alerts off on my phone because I was getting annoyed with seeing myself so much. It was all day long. Even I don’t love myself this much! It’s unbelievable that people take the time to do this stuff. I am flattered and I am fascinated by it at the same time. Logan, who works for me now, I met Logan because he started DanielleHarris.org, and he came to me at a convention a couple of years ago and said “My name is Logan, I put together this fan site for you.” I told him that I loved it… I had actually been on there a couple of times and told him he did a really good job. He asked if he could come out to L.A. to interview me and I said sure. He came to L.A. and he kept helping me do things when I did “Among Friends” and I would go to him and say “Hey, promote this.” or “Hey, I’ll give you first dibs on these pictures that nobody else has.” We sort of developed a relationship because of the effort I saw he put into caring about me and my career. I loved that. And now he is literally in my house every single day at nine o’clock in the morning. He works with my husband every day. I even asked him “Did you ever imagine after meeting me at wherever we met, Monstermania or – I don’t even know where the heck we were – that five years later you would literally be seeing me come upstairs in my pajamas and having coffee with me while I’m complaining about something?” And he said, “No, I didn’t.”

BCA: What is coming up for you in the future?
DH: I just optioned a script recently and I brought in a producing partner, and I’ve been producing this next one I’m doing, and assembling the team myself, which is a benefit of being the producer. And directing it as well.

BCA: Have you ever thought about writing or creating your own horror franchise?
DH: Not really franchise stuff, but I definitely have a bunch of ideas. I’m not looking to create the next killer. I think every new filmmaker wants to have the next Freddy, or the next Michael, or the next Jason and I think that that can get a bit old. I think it’s about trying to find ways to keep hip within the genre, because we don’t want to see the same stuff. I think I found that with the movie that I optioned, I didn’t write it, I just optioned it from a writer. We’re just in the middle of going through a little bit of changes and hopefully I’ll be up and running by fall.

“Camp Dread” is available on DVD now.


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Danielle Colby-Cushman talks about The History Channel series “American Pickers”

Danielle Colby-Cushman appears on the popular History Channel series “American Pickers”. Media Mikes talked recently with Daniel about her work on the show and about her burlesque troupe Burlesque le’ Moustache.

Adam Lawton: How did you first connect with Mike and Frank?
Danielle Colby-Cushman: I met Mike about 13 or 14 years ago. We actually met at a yard sale. We became friends and hung out a lot after that. I ended up meeting Frank through Mike.

AL: How did they approach you about doing the show?
DCC: The guys were never approached to do a television shows. They had shot a bunch of footage and Mike was really the guy trying to get something going. He had tried for 4 years to get the show picked up. At one point it had looked as though Discovery Channel was going to pick the show up and Mike asked me if I would be able to help them run the shop as he was going to be on the road all the time. We used to do this out of his basement so there wasn’t really a shop or anything. Once we found out Discovery was not going to pick the show up I made plans to move back to Chicago. The month that I was set to move back Mike came to me and told me I couldn’t move because, we had gotten picked up by the History channel. I was very hungry to get back into make-up artistry which I had done for 14 years but I had this great opportunity that ended up working really well.

AL: How much are you involved with the business now outside of the show?
DCC: My word is still gold at Antique Archeology. I have more people helping out now which is really nice. I try as hard as I can to not be there during open hours because it is very difficult to work with so many people coming through. However at the same time I love having the people come through because it’s great meeting everyone who made us the success we are. It’s a double edged sword. I just try to do as much as I can before and after hours. It’s still my home sweet home.

AL: On the show recently we saw you experience your first pick. Was that actually your very first pick?
DCC: That was truly my first pick. It was a really awesome experience and something that I had wanted to do for some time. It was a little bit embarrassing to go through something for the first time on television. You want to look like a professional but sometimes you have to sit back and just watch and learn. I really liked being able to do that and have since gone on a couple other picks. I hope to do more in the future.

AL: Can you tell us what made you want to start performing burlesque?

DCC: Burlesque was something I got into because I wanted to stop hating myself. Since I was a teenager I hated everything about myself. I didn’t like the way I looked. I wanted to love myself but I didn’t understand how to do that. I spent a lot of years hating on my flaws rather than the story behind my flaws. I saw an amazing burlesque show years ago in Chicago and I just fell in love with the women on stage. I loved the strength they exuded on stage and wanted some of that. That’s what really got me into performing.

AL: Can you tell us about the burlesque troop you started?
DCC: I had started teaching burlesque classes in Iowa and Illinois about 3 and a half years ago. There was nothing like it in my area as the closes troupe was about 3 hours away. I started YouTubing the hell out of anything burlesque related and I bought a million DVD’s. I devoured burlesque every day of my life and I still do. I think that’s the only way to learn.

AL: Do you have any plans to tour outside of the Illinois area with the troupe?
DCC: I am not sure. My shooting schedule makes it difficult to be able to do something like that. We would love to do that. I will be in the very near future opening up a burlesque lounge. It’s going to be called “Diesel Lounge” and it will feature burlesque and cabaret music. There will be a lot of fun stuff going on there.

AL: Do you think it’s harder performing burlesque or working with Mike and Frank?
DCC: I have a lot of responsibility with both. I think it’s a little easier owning your own thing as you can tell people what you want. You are able to say it’s either my way or the highway. Getting up on stage is not difficult at all. It used to be but, after seeing all the people who were inspired by what we were doing I don’t really worry about if I ate too much before the show. (Laughs) Those people are there to see a story not necessarily a naked girl.

AL: Can you tell us about some of the other things you are involved with?
DCC: I have had a clothing line now for about 10 years called 4 Miles to Memphis. I have stopped making the clothing myself however I still do design it. I have gone with an American company based out of Los Angeles that is producing my designs. I just don’t have the time to make everything on my own now as people want it on a larger scale. It’s so wonderful I just don’t have the time. I have tried to keep everything local to help celebrate local economy but there just weren’t enough people here to keep up with the demand. We are however keeping it an American operation. All the money that comes in from the 4 Miles to Memphis stuff goes to my parents to help pay for my dad’s medical expenses. It’s really a wonderful cause while at the same time being a creative outlet for me.

Interview with Danielle Rayne

Danielle Rayne is the star of the short film “Portal: No Escape”. The short film based on the hit video game series and is directed by Dan Trachtenberg. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Danielle about the short film and it’s overnight success.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about how you got involved with “Portal: No Escape”?
Danielle Rayne: The first of our 2 stunt coordinators, Keith Adams, and I had worked at Universal Studios T2:3D together. Keith is a huge “Portal” fan. When Dan Trachtenberg was casting “Portal: No Escape”, Keith introduced him to some actresses and stunt women he thought could do the job. So I owe all this to Keith.

MG: How aware were you of the video game series “Portal” prior to working on the short?
DR: No, I wasn’t. I must live in a bubble…

MG: The short has over 5 million hits already, are you surprised by the response?
DR: I thought it would do well, especially as Dan would send me clips of the VFX in stages and I could see the high production values. The Comic Con debut was another indicator. But nothing really prepares you for 5 million hits and #1 for the week on YouTube. The speed with which “P:NE” went viral floored me.

MG: Tell us about the production, how long did it take to shoot?
DR: We shot for three days in downtown L.A. in some abandoned buildings that have been turned into studios. The cell was shot in a studio that was formerly a meat packing plant. You did not want to go wandering around by yourself! I took a couple wrong turns going to and from set and I’d get a chill up my spine.

MG: Tell us about working with Dan Trachtenberg?
Working with Dan was one of the best experiences in my career. He’s keyed into drawing the best performance out of his actors. Portal:No Escape and More Than You Can Chew really show that. There’s a couple up-and-coming directors who are going to make a huge mark on Hollywood–Dan is one of them.

MG: Do you think there is a chance for this to become a feature film?
DR: A chance, sure. That being said, the movie business is so hard to pin down. Might as well go to Vegas and bet it all on black.

MG: Tell us about the film “Broken Down”?
DR: Trevor White directed it, Miles Warner wrote and stars in it. I have a great part but I can’t say much about Mary without giving away the good stuff! I can tell you I have dialogue this time. Like Dan, Trevor is another soon-to-be-breakout director and this is the second film I’ve done with him.

MG: Do you have anything else planned upcoming?
DR: I’ve recently begun working with 4 Horsemen Films and their management division. Clearly, the character I play in “P:NE” hit home for a lot of viewers–even ones who had never played “Portal”. A lot of reviews appreciated that my character was strong, smart and sexy without being a sex object. We’ve got a few things we’re looking at with all that in mind. So if anyone wants to pitch a badass female driven spec–Zack at 4 Horsemen Films is my go-to guy. 😉