Your upcoming movie Follow Her - in a few words, what's it
going to be about?
aspiring actress who responds to a mysterious classified ad for a popular
live streaming show but finds herself trapped in her new boss’s twisted
How did the project come together in
the first place?
meeting a stranger off Craigslist to write “Hitchcock style” scripts
with. It was at that time I came up with the concept, two years ago. About
6 months later, I was listening to this podcast called Making
Movies is Hard
who’s guest speaker stated: “Before you make your baby
project, go make all your mistakes on another film first.” I had spent 5
years developing a different script and in one podcast, I redirected my
whole plans and started writing Follow
then fell in love with it. I reached out to a different podcast called Film
to seek connections to executive producers. They linked me to John A.
Gallagher who loved the project and linked me to Sylvia Caminer to direct
it. Sylvia and I clicked, she connected us to Luke Geissbuhler, our DP,
and Luke brought on his whole camera crew. Goes to show, connections are
invaluable in this business, but more importantly, doing what you need to
do to be ready
for those connections.
What were your sources of inspiration
when writing Follow Her? And since the film revolves around an
aspiring actress, is any part of it autobiographical in any way?
yes... How can you tell? A lot of what is in Follow
is inspired by my own experiences using Craigslist back when I was
producing the series Starvival.
I’ve modernized it in Follow
that the main character, Jess Peters, uses a live streaming platform
instead. Her web series is much more tailored around busting people online
who post jobs catered to young women with the intent of ulterior motives,
for example: A “shoe commercial” which is really just a ploy to get
pictures of women’s feet to satisfy that person’s secret foot fetish.
Follow Her being a thriller, what can you tell us about your
movie's approach to the genre?
film is ultimately a psychological thriller-horror with a slow build in
the creep-factor versus the more conventional slasher flick with lots of
gore. Though forewarning, it’s pretttttyyyy sexy. More than anything
it’s about these two characters employing their own manipulative tactics
to elevate their power in what becomes a rather deadly and tumultuous game
What can you tell us
about Follow Her's director Sylvia Caminer, and what's your
was really lucky to find Sylvia when I did, it was the right timing for
both of us. She was eager to direct an exciting, fictional film (as she
usually directs documentaries) and hadn’t found the right one yet. She
read one of the earlier drafts and came onboard. Soon after, we started
enhancing the script which we did for over a year! Fortunately we work
exceptionally well together. That’s not to say we don’t disagree
sometimes but we hash it out in enough detail that the conclusion is
usually made clear. She’s been simultaneously shooting her PBS series,
Samantha Brown's Places
to Love (which just won an Emmy for best travel show!), so
availability can be tricky but we manage to make it work. Between she and
our super talented script consultant, J. Preston Witt, I feel very
supported in the collaborative process. We all keep each other accountable
and in line with the thematic elements within the story.
Dani with director Sylvia Caminer
You also play the lead in Follow
Her - so do talk about your character, and what do you draw
upon to bring her to life? And have you written Jess with yourself in mind
from the get-go?
ways, Jess was the dream version of me in her ballsiness.
Yet at the same time, she’s naive in ways I am not. I used to be more
brave but now I tend to have too many feelings. Ha. I’m much more
sensitive to things now because I value so much more than an existence on
social media based on popularity, whereas Jess is a tough nut, very
unemotional and detached with a lot of her worth wrapped up in her
follower-counts and online likeability. It’s an existential crisis
detaching oneself from digital validity when so many apps use likes
to keep people hooked. They are literally created to be addictive.
bring Jess to life, I set aside a month to prep and put down my producer
hat so that I could focus 100% on the creative. I always had myself in
mind to play her. I immersed myself in digital media / live-streaming-sources /
apps to dig into what is relevant and the methods
to gaining followers between thousands of fake accounts littering the web.
I was in the gym every day so that once it came time to film, body
consciousness would be the last thing on my mind.
What can you tell us about the shoot as
such so far?
far, the shoot has gone really well! Super grateful for the team we’ve
brought together, Sylvia and I really leaned on our producing partner,
Michael Indjeian. There was such a good balance of professionalism and
play on set, especially by our DP, Luke Geissbuhler, who was such a role
model, along with Luke Cook, my co-star. Both exhibit such a
playfulness/joy on set but can quickly lock into the moment. I didn’t
want the shoot to end. I’m absolutely in love with the lifestyle of
shooting: long hours, weird hotel rooms, being shuffled around day-to-day
with a totally whack schedule because what-called-for
sun has turned into a full blown storm. I think shoots can always be a
little rocky to start, I mean we literally got into a car accident on our
first day of rehearsal, but we found our groove pretty quick. Also, I want
to make a shout out to Westley Valentin who is
a phenomenal 2nd AD (you’re incredible, Westley, and I am so very grateful
From what I know, you're still in the
process of filming Follow Her - so what's the schedule, however
tentatively, and any idea when and where the movie might be released yet?
are scheduled to shoot the rest of the film mid-September and working to
secure financing for those final 7 days of filming. That gives us enough
time between now and then to prep! We’d be looking at a release date in
2020, and planning to enter the festival circuit and get Follow
submitted to “the big gun” festivals like TIFF, Tribeca and Cannes,
and many more.
future projects beyond Follow Her you'd like to share?
started developing the sequel of Follow Her,
which feels like an even more exciting and amplified version of this film,
tentatively titled Follow Them.
I’m really excited about it! Ideally, I’d love to have this ready for
the release of Follow
so we can go right into prep for the next.
got you into acting in the first place, and did you receive any formal
training on the subject?
been acting pretty seriously since 10th grade after performing in Grease.
From there, I got involved in every community theatre production available
that my small town offered. Since graduating high school, I dove
into the Acting
for the Camera Program
at Capilano University and then straight into another graduate program in
at MacEwan University. After touring with a dinner theatre called Jubilations,
I headed East to Toronto where I trained consistently in acting workshops
with a variety of teachers and then popped over to New York where I dove
into Matthew Corozine Studios and IFS therapy. I mention IFS (Internal
Family Systems) because this form of therapy honestly contributes more to
my work as an actor than anything else in my life.
From what I know, before you
broke into films, you were a stage actress - so what can you tell us about
that part of your career, and how does performing on stage compare to
acting in front of a camera?
brings me back. Yes, I started on stage because my hometown didn’t have
any programs associated to film, probably still doesn’t -
it’s reallllllly small.
But theatre was definitely my first love. It’s more lively in the sense
of immediate gratification, versus film, which can take a year before
it’s even seen and typically costs a lot more. And by that point,
you’ve moved on to how many other projects...? Which is why I think
it’s important to celebrate your successes as they occur. Like
shooting. And celebrating again when the film is released or accepted into
a festival. Celebrating all the lil’ long way! It’s a journey this
filmmaking process so it’s important to acknowledge your milestones. But
the biggest note I’ve received as an actor transitioning from theatre to
film is… Do
Of late, you've also moved
into writing and producing - so what prompted that move?
actually been writing and producing for many years - with Starvival
I wore all the hats. I created, wrote and produced a series for
LGBTQ+ network OUTtv with my ex-girlfriend which was hella fun, a pilot
with VH1, and later a TBS series called The
I acted as a consulting producer, writer and lead character on the show.
I’m the type of artist who condones creating your own work so you’re
not reliant on others providing work for you. To enable yourself to pursue
your art, typically you have to write it. And in order to get the writing
on its feet, you have to produce. If you love acting like I do, then it
only makes sense to act in it... or if you’re really heroic, act AND
direct it. Phew.
can you tell us about your film and TV work prior to Follow Her, in
mentioned above, I’ve produced and written a number of films/series.
Prior to this, I worked in Toronto on a variety of Actra productions like
Gavin Booth’s film The
Michael Booth interview - click here]. I acted as a guest star on
Single Ladies, Meet the Family and the Investigative Discovery
in my Home.
After I moved from Toronto to New York for the TBS series The
I took a year break from the industry to reevaluate my goals… out of
this came the creation of Follow Her.
How would you describe yourself as an
actress, and some of your techniques to bring your characters to life?
techniques to acting are ever-evolving as I continue my journey into
self-discovery. The more I understand my own layers/protectors and depth,
the more I am able to understand the tactics and vices of another
character. I try my best to get off book as quickly as possible using a
method called “taking it off the page” developed by Harold Guskin.
This initial snail-like-process eliminates any means of memorization
because you are making the words personal
which allows the lines to seep into the body versus just memorizing words
with no meaning or relatability. With Jess Peters, I was in and out of
“method acting” techniques around social media… I have to really
feel the character in my body to get out of my head. If I do get stuck in
my head, I have learned over the years that the power of admission - to
admit whatever is going on, regardless of how embarrassing it might be,
will allow oneself to be present.
(and indeed actors) who inspire you?
actors in the HBO series
Euphoria. I think they are phenomenal, as well as
the lead actress in Midsommar... all the actors in that film are
ridiculously talented. I think Toni Collett should have won an Oscar for
her role in Hereditary… She blows me away. But it’s Jim Carrey
my true inspiration.
are often changing but I am really inspired by Jordan Peele’s work on Get
Out and Us. Room,
the Canadian film starring Brie Larson is another fave. As mentioned
above, I love Ari Aster’s writing/directing on Hereditary
(even though I covered my eyes and squealed through half the film) and Midsommar.
I am a huge fan of Blumhouse’s
films, The Purge, Whiplash, etc.
Fede Alvarez’ film Don’t Breathe.
And always gotta throw Dumb
in my list of faves.
... and of course, films you really deplore?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
hm…. films that use cheap motives like over-using nudity and sex scenes
to try and get away with a weak script or bad acting. Or films that use
gore and torturous scenarios for the sake of excitement and lack any real
motivation or character objectives.
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
movie website is currently being updated to the new title but can be found
You can also find me on Instagram at @danibarker7. My personal website is
and the Facebook page for the film (with updates in the near future) is
for the interview!