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An Interview with Danielle Donahue, Star of Survival Knife

by Mike Haberfelner

February 2016

Films starring Danielle Donahue on (re)Search my Trash

 

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Your new movie Survival Knife - in a few words, what is it about, and what can you tell us about your character in it?

 

The unique thing about Survival Knife is that it starts where a typical horror movie would end. A serial killer goes on a rampage in the woods and basically kills every person that means anything to this woman (Penny, my character). She kills him, but then the killings start happening again. Is it a copycat killer? Is the killer still alive? It keeps you guessing.

 

What did you draw upon to bring your character to life, and how much Danielle Donahue can we actually find in Penny?

 

When I take on a role, I like to take something about the character that relates to me, push that all the way forward, and push the rest back. It was difficult with Penny because she had a really sad and traumatic situation. I donít think I could have survived it like she did. She clearly has mental healing to do, but she is at least trying. If it were actually me in the movie, it would be a really short movie: As soon as I woke up in the woods with blood on meÖ ďNope! Fuck this. Iím done.Ē

 

Your role in Survival Knife seems to be physically pretty demanding - so how did you prepare for that aspect of the movie?

 


I didnít really prepare physically for the role. Looking back I probably should have. There is a scene where Iím in the woods and crawling up a hill and a couple days after the shoot I had bruises all over me. I often over-estimate what my body can physically handle. Just because I can do it doesnít always mean itís a good idea. But I am all about realism and I go all in.

 

How did you get involved with the project in the first place?

 

Iíve done short films with Mike McKown [Mike McKown interview - click here] and Jim Towns [Jim Towns interview - click here] before. They were tinkering with this concept for a while. Jim wrote this amazing script and Mike was on board to direct, so when they asked me to play the role I was excited. They are both really talented people and just great human beings all around.

 

What can you tell us about your director Mike McKown [Mike McKown interview - click here], and what was your collaboration like? And also talk about your previous collaboration Scorned for a bit?

 

I love working with Mike. He has his own vision, but still welcomes ideas. We like the same movies and TV shows, so we always have inside jokes. Scorned was an interesting one. Itís based on this idea I had about a serial killer couple that has comedic elements within a horror/suspense situation. I have an idea for it as a feature and Iíve been meaning to write a script. It has yet to happen, butÖ Some day!

 

Do talk about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?

 

Even though the movie has serious subject matter, it was fun to shoot. Lots of laughs and goofs. Shooting in the Carrie Furnace was incredible. It had awesome lighting and a unique atmosphere. It was sort of its own character in a way.

 

You of course have to talk about your upcoming directorial debut Snowfall for a bit, and how did that come about?

 

Snowfall is still in preproduction. It is going to be very demanding since a lot of it will be shot by me with no one holding the camera. The solitude setting is two hours away from Pittsburgh and the concept is built around being snowed in. The challenging shoot involves a lot of footage of me in lots of snow. And when it comes to the cold, I am the biggest baby ever. It may take some time to complete, but will be great.

 

Any future projects you'd like to share?

 

Not at this time but who knows what will happen tomorrow.

 

What got you acting to begin with, and did you receive any formal education on the subject?

 

I had no formal education and always used to think acting was silly. There was a casting call for a movie (Dead Body Man) that was being shot locally back in 2003, so I got in on it. I hated it at first. I just didnít like pretending to be someone else, but then I started getting more offers and I just rolled with it. Iíve come to learn that even though it wasnít the type of artistic expression I was used to (drawing, painting, photography, musicÖ) it still was a creative process that had a life of its own. And Iíve truly grown to love the art of filmmaking and the challenges it presents.

 

What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Survival Knife?

 

The first people that I really worked with before Robot Monkey was Polonia Bros. Entertainment (Wildcat, Muckman, Jurassic Prey). Both Robot Monkey and Polonia Bros. productions are exceptionally professional and creative, so I always look forward to opportunities to work with them. Mark Polonia who is often the director always has his shit together and is professional, talented and fun to work with. I usually have to travel 10 hours for a 3 day shoot and it is so worth it because they are such a great bunch of people to be around.

 

One can't but notice that many of your films are of the horror variety - purely by incident or is horror a genre especially dear to you, and why (not)?

 

I get asked that question a lot! And it is always difficult to answer. Even before I started acting I was always drawn to the darker side of human nature and having it a part of my creative expression. More in an attempt to understand it rather than be part of it. Horror makes you feel something that you normally would not feel in your daily life. Itís like a vacation for your imagination. Itís funny because if you know me in person you would never guess. I find humor in everything. Sometimes to the point where it is borderline annoying.

 

How would you describe yourself as an actress, and some of your techniques to bring your characters to life?

 

I like to describe myself as an ďundefined actressĒ. I really donít have any specific technique and me being my biggest critic thinks it shows on camera lol.

 

Actresses (and indeed actors) who inspire you?

 

Iím very drawn to actors who can just disappear in a role and who have a range. Gary Oldman is someone I always enjoy watching. Cary Elwes is another actor I really respect because he can take on any role no matter the genre. Iím not really drawn to ďsuperstarsĒ. I think the most famous person Iím a fan of is Milla Jovovich. Iíve got a bit of a girl crush on her.

 

Your favourite movies?

 

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Army of Darkness, Shadow of the Vampire, The Untouchables, The Age of InnocenceÖ Iím kind of all over the place.

 

And of course, films you really deplore?

 

Thatís a tough question because I really donít watch movies that I know I wonít be interested in.

 

Your website, Facebook, whatever else?

 

www.danielledonahue.com

facebook.com/donahuedanielle

Instagram Ė danielledonahue

Twitter Ė @d2donahue

 

Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?

 

Nope.

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

Thank YOU. Love your website!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
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tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD