I have had the privilege of chatting with Michelle Shields before for an interview. About a year ago, I was a newcomer to the horror webzine world and was looking for my first interviewee. I searched through Facebook and came across Michelle, who came highly regarded by several fellow Chicagoland horror nuts I knew.
After a few messages back and forth, an interview was born and I had my first feature on Ravenous Monster:
Michelle has appeared in such Hollywood big budget flicks as ‘The Dark Knight’, ‘Fred Claus’ and ‘Public Enemies’. But where she really makes her claim to fame is in the world of screams, as a leading lady in the independent horror scene.
Now, I have the honor of chatting with the fantastic Ms. Shields yet again- this time to promote her newest film, the awesome feature ‘Frankenstein: Day Of The Beast’, while also digging a bit deeper into her psyche as an actress and a true woman in horror to be reckoned with.
1. Have you started any new projects since the last time we chatted?
I am in “The Collective Vol. 2”. This is a project that involves 10 Filmmakers. Each one makes a ten minute film all dealing with the same subject or prop. I have the honor of being in two out of the ten films on this DVD. It was released 11-11-11. I also have agreed to write and direct a story for Vol 3. I will also be staring in “Dark Worlds: The Movie-SLASHER, which filmed in November. I have also signed on to “Night of the Living Dead (2012)”. I have other projects coming up also further down the road.
2. If you could be a part of one horror franchise, which would it be?
Either “Nightmare On Elm Street” or “Child’s Play”. I love the horror aspect mixed with Freddy’s and Chucky’s humor.
3. As a woman in horror, what do you think is one area mainstream filmmaking can improve on to make the gender balance scale even out?
We need more women directors and more interesting lead women characters. I would love to see more women playing the lead “bad guy”. Right now every bad guy is a guy, that’s why we call it “the bad guy”. True there are some exceptions but not nearly enough. I look for roles, which prove difficult to find, where I can play an evil person and be the “bad guy”. Their characters are so much more interesting.
4. What roped you into the horror genre?
I grew up watching horror films, building horror model kits, and loving Halloween. If it’s a good script or story I like getting into the psychology behind all the characters and figuring out their back stories that the film maker hasn’t time to go into to deeply. I also do this for characters I play.
5. Do you think “scream queen” is a bad label? It seems like a lot of people these days associate it with “useless women who get killed quickly, gratuitous nudity, and so forth, thanks to the likes of Paris Hilton and other social faces ruining the legacy. While others feel it’s a nod to the classics like Barbara Steele, Jamie Lee Curtis, etc.
No, I don’t consider it a bad label at all. Although I have been referred to as a Scream Queen I don’t really consider myself to be one, I am an actress that portrays one. I don’t want to be put in a box, I like being versatile and working in different genres. I have done other plays, films, even comic books that were dramas and comedy’s and I may be attached a science fiction film soon. Even certain scream queens like Jamie Lee Curtis have successfully done a wide variety of things besides horror.
6. You have interests in directing, I’ve read. What kind of film could we expect from Ms. Shields?
Well I do love horror and dark humor when combined so, eventually I may do something along those lines but as I mentioned earlier, my directorial debut will be on “The Collective Vol 3”. The subject matter of Vol 3 can’t be revealed just yet.
7. As a fellow Chicagoan- Cubs or White Sox?
Not a Baseball fan. More of a wrestling fan!
Michelle’s latest project, ‘Frankenstein: Day Of The Beast’, premiered at the famous Portage Theatre in Chicago, Illinois on November 27 to a fantastic reception. The film is currently in distribution negotiations and continues drawing rave reviews across media outlets far and wide.
8. How did the big premiere for ‘Frankenstein: Day of the Beast’ go?
The premier had a great turnout! Everyone loved the film and during a Q & A the audience was asking for a sequel to be considered 🙂 We also had two encore presentations five days later that turned out awesome too. The film will now be going to distribution and should be available in the near future.
Pictures from the premier can be seen here https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1494456205021.2067431.1342546752&type=3
9. How did you get involved with this project and what swayed you to meet it head on?
I was contacted and offered a supporting role in the film but when I read the script I decided I wanted the lead role. There were quite a few people that wanted the role and I went through several auditions and was finally chosen for the lead role. I always want to be in a “classic monster film” but didn’t want to do just anyone that came along. But like I said, after reading the script and meeting with the film makers I knew I had to do this one.
10. As the female lead, who are some horror actresses you admire, past and present?
There are so many but some actresses that come to mind are Linnea Quigley, Fairuza Balk, and Natalie Portman.
11. How did the film process for this film go? How long did it take to shoot the film?
Filming went great! One of the best cast and crew I ever worked with. Everyone was very professional and knew what to do and when to do it but we still had fun on the set. For example, several times in between scenes we would start singing and dancing to songs we were making up on the spot. Some of this was filmed and possible may be on the DVD as an extra.
The whole process including auditions, building sets, finding locations, right up to the premier, took approximately one year.
As always, Michelle was nothing but a fantastic sport throughout this interview process. I sincerely appreciate all her time and support, through both interviews I’ve conducted with her!
Keep posted on all things Michelle through her Facebook page!