Shannon Interviews Jocelin Donahue from the Horror Anthology "Holidays"

If you haven’t heard by now, a new horror anthology has been released: HOLIDAYS.  This gem of a film takes us on a tale of all the hidden horrors that lurk in each holiday.  To say there is something for everyone would be an understatement.  Not only do we get to see horrific imagery from some of our favorite holidays but we get to see the work of some amazing directors and actors.  I was lucky enough to sit down with Jocelin Donahue who stars in Anthony Scott Burns segment, FATHER’S DAY.  

Shannon McGrew: Hi Jocelin, thank you so much for talking with us!  I must say, I loved HOLIDAYS, especially your segment FATHER’S DAY which I thought was absolutely fantastic and heartbreaking.  Just in case people aren’t familiar with your previous work, you’ve done a lot of horror films, most notably THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL (directed by Ti West).  What interest you in the horror genre?  

Jocelin Donahue: Horror is cool because it gives you the chance to do a lot in terms of emotions and performance.  Its something that tackles really big themes such a life or death and violence and danger.  Usually there is really high stakes in the horror genre so for an actor there’s a lot to play there.  

SM: Your segment in HOLIDAYS tackles FATHER’S DAY (directed by Anthony Scott Burns), what interested you in this story? 

JD: For FATHER’S DAY, I met with the director, Anthony Scott Burns.  He reached out to me and after sitting with him that first meeting I was just really impressed by him.  He’s a very smart dude and self taught, he comes from a world of VFX and Sci-Fi and he actually did all the music for this short.  He also usually does all his own camera work but in this case we worked with a really great cinematographer that was a husband and wife team.  I knew right away that Anthony was a really competent smart guy who was interested in cinema and telling good stories.  Once I read the script, I thought it was a really cool concept for a short film because it has really deep themes about what happens after we die.  I thought Anthony was really smart with how he put it all together in a short film.  

SM: Well I absolutely loved it and on a personal level, I had lost my father, so it was interesting to see how this short film played out and how it was still able to pull on my heart strings.  Throughout the film, it’s essentially just you on the screen, so how did you prepare yourself for this role? 

JD: Like you, I have gone through similar things.  Whenever you lose a loved one, especially a parent, it changes your perspective on your own life.  You really start to think what would I go through or what would I risk to see this person again.  It’s almost like nothing else matters if you are losing someone because all that matters is spending time with them, and I feel like that’s what FATHER’S DAY takes on.  This short film is very emotional and luckily Anthony put together a team of people he was really close to.  His wife was the makeup artist and his good friends were the cinematographers and the producers. There was only about 8 of us on set so it was a very small crew which led to a very intimate environment which allowed me to get deep and get vulnerable. 

SM: Since you were the only one on screen, what were some of the challenges you faced while filming? 

JD: Well, they hadn’t recorded the father’s voice over yet till after I shot, so when I first get the tap cassette and I’m listening to it in the kitchen, Anthony did record all of that information and played it through a distorted creepy playback, which allowed me to react to that.  Later on, we were on location at the Salt & Sea, so when we were out there, as I’m walking along and listening to my dad’s voice in my ears, Anthony would either be calling out where we were or I would think about where I was in his dialogue.  I just had to use my imagination a lot cause I wasn’t working with another actor; however, that allowed me to make the experience very personal.  

SM: I don’t want to go too much into the ending of FATHER’S DAY; however, I think on the surface the ending was pretty final, but I personally thought it was a bit ambiguous, allowing the audience to come up with their own thoughts. What are your ideas on that? 

JD: I agree!  That’s something that I really love about the story, that it is unresolved.  We don’t know if there is an afterlife or if it’s possible to reunite with our loved ones after we die.  FATHER’S DAY has this surreal, metaphysical, unknown element that Anthony leaves hanging at the end and I really like that.  I like that it’s unresolved and the audience has to think about the possibility of what happens next. 

SM: So I must ask, do you have anything coming up that we should be keeping an eye out for? 

JD: Yes, I have a couple of things coming down the pipeline.  I did another horror film that was shot last summer called DEAD AWAKE.  It’s from writer Jeffrey Reddick (FINAL DESTINATION) and directed by Phillip Guzman. Phillip’s done a bunch of indie crime thrillers so this is his first straight up horror film and it was a great experience.  I play twins in the movie and it’s about sleep paralysis where one sister is investigating the other sister’s death from a nightmare.  I have another indie film coming out called BOOMTOWN, where I play the wife of a husband who goes looking for work in the fracking fields up in North Dakota.  It’s another topical story about people moving to find a new source of income. 

SM: Thank you so much Jocelin for taking time out to answer my questions! We here at Nightmarish Conjurings are so excited for you and HOLIDAYS and we wish you continued success in your upcoming films! 

For more information on HOLIDAYS check out the official website:
http://holidaysanthology.com/ and visit their social media at:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/holidaysmovie
Twitter: https://twitter.com/holidays_movie
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/holidays_movie/

To learn more about Jocelin’s upcoming films follow her on Twitter at:
https://twitter.com/jocelindonahue