For the release of the horror film, INOPERABLE, about a woman who must battle nature and the supernatural before she ends up trapped for eternity, Shannon had the chance to speak with scream queen Danielle Harris. During their chat, they talked about everything from her character’s story arc, working in a condemned hospital, and what we can expect next from the legendary horror actress.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Hi Danielle, thank you so much for speaking with me today! To start things off, for those who may not be familiar with your latest film, INOPERABLE, can you tell us a little bit about it and your character Amy?
Danielle Harris: INOPERABLE is kind of like a genre version of Groundhog Day. Amy is stuck in the hospital after a pile up on the highway and she finds herself reliving the same day over and over and over again. She has to figure out how to put the pieces of the puzzle together in order to figure out how to get out of where she feels she is trapped. Ironically enough there is a hurricane at the same time and the eye of the storm is over the hospital. While there she encounters some very interesting people along the way – some friends, some foes, and it’s hard for her to distinguish between the two. As she puts the pieces of the puzzle together she’s trying to find her way out and then the film takes a really crazy twist at the end.
Nightmarish Conjurings: What was it about this script that drew you to the role and how was it working with director Christopher Lawrence Chapman?
DH: I hadn’t actually done a film like this before – all happening in the same day, in the same location. Most of the movies that I do would be considered slashers – there’s one guy who’s chasing me around with a giant knife or a hatchet (laughs). So it was kind of cool to do something that took a lot of thinking. What drew me to Amy as a character arc was I got to see where she started and where she would go as well as see her find her strengths and unravel at the same time, which was pretty cool.
Chris was a first time director in the genre, which I think allowed me to really take the reigns and play around. He trusted me to do what I do best which is the best way a director can be, especially since I’ve doing this for so long. We actually shot the film in sequence which is also something I had never done before and is usually very difficult, but in this particular situation it helped. I knew exactly where I had come from prior so things really made sense. I didn’t have to think where I would have been in theory if I was doing Scene 60 first because if that was the case I would have had to figure out what I had been through up until that point. It really helped to have had the film shot in sequence.
Nightmarish Conjurings: What were some of the challenges you faced, if any, while filming and did you do any research to get into your character?
DH: I actually didn’t have to do much research fortunately, filming in sequence really actually helped. In terms of challenges we were in this super hot, disgusting, mold-infested, gross abandoned hospital with bats everywhere for long periods of the day. You are also basically filming six days a week and on top of that we were staying 45 minutes from where we were shooting, so you don’t have a lot of down time. With that said, I think you start to get over it rather quickly. You really did want out of the hospital (laughs) and I think a lot of that plays nicely on screen.
Nightmarish Conjurings: So you were actually in a hospital?
DH: Mmm-hmm. But it had been condemned and closed down and it was going to be torn down after we were done filming, I believe.
Nightmarish Conjurings: When it comes to choosing your roles, what are some factors that go into your choices?
DH: I think it depends on where I am in my life. We filmed this movie in Tampa and my family all actually live about 2 hours from there so I thought it would be really great to see them and have them come spend time with me. It was really nice because my mom and my family hadn’t actually visited me while I was working since I was a kid. I think also, being able to be the heroine and being able to sort of play and have a lot of room for my character. Then of course you want to know where you are going to be filming – is it freezing, is it hot, as well as how many days we will be working – is it going to be a 12 day shoot where I have to work 18 hour days? So I think a lot of that stuff comes into play too. I was excited to work in Florida because I’m always expecting something upstate New York in January and it’s going to be 12 degrees and I’m going to have to wear a tanktop (laughs), but this movie was not like that thank God.
Nightmarish Conjurings: What do you think most people are going to be surprised about when it comes to INOPERABLE?
DH: Knowing that it takes place in one location, sometimes that is a recipe for disaster, and you wonder how creative can you really get if you are filming everything inside, but I think our DP did an amazing job at continuing to find new ways to film the same hallways and the same stuff. I learned a lot from watching him and the magic he was able to do. I mean, most of the movie, about 65% was shot in one shot, there’s no backup coverage. In the beginning I was like you realize that if something doesn’t come our right we don’t have anything else, right? (laughs). But the DP was like I got this, and he would be running after carrying this 40-50 lb camera on a rodin and he would be jumping over equipment as it would fall and it looks really cool. That’s another way in which Chris is great as a director as he gave the DP freedom to be creative. The end result in a really cool movie that could have ended up otherwise being pretty lame in retrospect.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Last, but not least, are there any other projects you are working on that we should be keeping our eyes out for?
DH: I just finished an awesome movie called CAMP COLD BROOK, directed by Andy Palmer, who is amazing and I can’t wait to work with him again. He’s just so lovely and such a great director. The film also stars Chad Michael Murray, who’s wonderful and just so profession and such a joy to work with, we had great chemistry. And of course Joe Dante gave it his blessing and he’s producing the film. It was so much fun and my character has such a great sense of humor. It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to find a comedy in these types of roles and even though there is all this craziness happening, my character is super funny.
Some movies can be so hard to make and you can get a little burnt out and not want to do it anymore as there can be a lot of wear and tear on your body and your emotionally going through all that for a long period of time, so I took a little bit of a break and this is kind of my first thing back after having a baby. There I was, nursing my five month old and working nights on Andy’s film and I was like wow, I’m a warrior, I can do this, this is crazy (laughs). It was really because that crew and that movie was just so great that I was able to do that because of them.
INOPERABLE is now in select theaters in Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, Houston, Phoenix, Tampa, Miami, Orlando, Cleveland and Minneapolis for weeklong runs.