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An Interview with Shanna Forrestall, Star of Within the Darkness

by Mike Haberfelner

April 2018

Films starring Shanna Forrestall on (re)Search my Trash


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


To me, Within the Darkness is a fun genre film that does a great job of using strong characters to demonstrate how our minds dictate our reality. I loved Megan from the beginning because she's interesting and multi-layered.


What did you draw upon to bring your character to life, and how much Shanna Forrestall can we find in Megan?


I'm from New Orleans and we're very open to the supernatural and to things being more than they seem. I know so many people of various beliefs that have strong connections to the supernatural - I definitey used some of them for my inspiration. I love how Megan is empathetic in certain situations and very good at reading people. I think we're alike in that way - now what she does with that info... we may differ on usage. And Megan has style. I don't normally wear that much makeup, but that outfit though... lol.


Given your character's a medium, how do you prepare for such a role even, and do you at all consider yourself a spiritual person, personally?


I walked away from organized religion a long time ago, because I believe that it is typically misused to control and manipulate people, but I would definitely consider myself a spiritual person and I believe there are various dimensions out there that we do not fully understand. My truths are simple: 1. God is love. 2. Love is everything. 3. We need more love.


How did you get involved with the project in the first place? And to what extent could you identify with the film's horror theme?


The film's director Jonathan [Jonathan Zuck interview - click here] was gracious enough to accept a video audition and I was so happy to be chosen for the project. It was such a fun role and I made lifelong friends and memories that I hold precious. I have a few fun horror pieces under my belt right now - I was in The Last Exorcism, Rites of Spring, Charlie Charlie and I also starred in John Schneider's Smothered.


What can you tell us about Within the Darkness's director Jonathan Zuck [Jonathan Zuck interview - click here], and what was your collaboration like?


Jonathan was a dream to work with. He is a great leader - we called him "coach" - and a great support for his cast and crew. He is gentle and allows us freedom to explore while staying at the helm to make sure we stay on course.  


A few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?


This was seriously one of the most fun shoots of my career. By living together and working together we formed friendships that span across the US and continue to live on. This ensemble team was perfectly cast and found some real moments working together that fused us for life. I am so proud of my teammates - Erin Nicole Cline (, John Bailey (, David Coyne ( and Tonya Jay ( - they are great people and talented actors and we really formed a special bond working on this project together.

There were some seriously silly moments as we got tired and a little delirious further into the shoot. Some "strange" things happened that were not in the film. Hee hee.


Any future projects you'd like to share?


I have a few things coming out soon - one of them is my most recent short film project that I wrote, produced and starred in, it will make its world premiere at the Louisiana International Film Festival this May. it was a labor of love and took one of the most heart-wrenching seasons of my life and turned it into a little film I am proud to have "birthed". It affects audiences deeply and that makes me happy. It's called Breathe ( and it's about grief. It also has a strong secondary message, but I don't want to tell you what it is or it will spoil the fun.


What got you into acting in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?


You know I kind of fell into the film industry when it hit Louisiana years ago. I dabbled in high school and college, but really focused on proper training when I became serious about film and TV work professionally


What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Within the Darkness?


I've had about 10 years of working pretty consistently on everything from small indie films to big TV and film budget projects, and it's been serious hard work and fun. I'm very grateful for the opportunities I've had and the amazing people I've gotten to spend some time with - people like Morgan Freeman, Kris Kristofferson and Melissa Leo.


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


I believe in authenticity and I have studied hard to work on being in the moment and really believing the story I am telling. I love finding similarities between myself and the characters.


Actresses (and indeed actors) who inspire you?


Cate Blanchett is someone I absolutely adore. I love the way she can be so brittle and so beautiful at the same time. Also Nicole Kidman. There is something so raw about her performances that I adore.


Your favourite movies?


Ummm, that's a hard one - right now I spend most of my free time binging on cable - shows like Big Little Lies, Handmaiden's Tale, Queen Sugar and some others are really inspiring because I love seeing female producers and talent get pushed forward with stories about "real" women.


... and of course, films you really deplore?


Honestly, I'm a scaredy cat and if I watch horror, I typically watch it thru my fingers (because I'm covering my face)...! When you have lived through some difficult scary times I think scary movies are not quite as fun. That being said, I use that fear regulary in my work and have no problem tapping into terror or pain when it's needed. I think it's helped me to book a lot of roles. for some reason people like to kill me. I've died on film in many ways.  


Your website, Facebook, whatever else?


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


Carlos Garza scored the film and since then we have become great friends. He is an amazingly talented composer and I've been able to hire him on a few projects. Music is so important, especially for these types of films, and I hope people take the time to notice his work. (He also scored my film Breathe -


Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

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Thanks for watching !!!



Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
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




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


A Killer Conversation

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

out now on DVD