Interview with Michelle Danner, director and star of the movie Bad Impulse and The Runner

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Bad Impulse had its premiere on February 29, 2020 at the Golden State Film Festival. This horror movie tells us about the “aftermath of a traumatic event, a suburban husband and father buys a cutting edge home security system, only to find that it slowly destroys that which he most wants to protect.” The quote was taken directly from director and producer Michelle Danner, who also works as an acting coach in the Los Angeles area.

Danner talked about the movie, which stars Sonya Walger and Paul Sorvine, with us at Fiction Horizon, and we’ve had the pleasure of finding out some interesting details about the movie but also Mrs. Danner’s other projects and plans; she also plays a smaller role in Bad Impulse, that of Helen, “a figure of authority and (…) a villain.”

The film has already been released for the public and is available on Demand and on iTunes, Amazon, GooglePlay and Microsoft. As part of the film’s promotion, we sat down with Michelle Danner for a short interview and we had a blast. Mrs. Danner talked about her perception of the movie and how she got involved with the project, as well as her impressions of the movie and her role. She also talked about her next project, the thriller movie The Runner, which is also going to be available very soon and in which Danner plays the role of Rita.

We managed to find out a lot of interesting details about these two movies, some inside information from the filming and some exclusive information that are related to Mrs. Danner’s future career. Here’s a transcript of the whole interview for you to enjoy!

Also, we had a chance to watch Bad Impulse, so check out our movie review.

1. Tell me about your new movie Bad Impulse 

Bad Impulse is a very entertaining psychological thriller with some horror and supernatural elements. In the aftermath of a traumatic event, a suburban husband and father buys a cutting edge home security system, only to find that it slowly destroys that which he most wants to protect. It’s available on Demand and on iTunes, Amazon, GooglePlay and Microsoft. 

2. How did you get involved with the project? 

My friend Jason Chase-Tyrrell wrote this wonderful screenplay and we did a reading of it and I was hooked and grateful that he trusted me with his baby. I was lucky enough to get a fantastic cast of actors to work on it, Grant Bowler, Sonya Walger, James Landry-Hebert, Stephanie Cayo, Dan Lauria and Paul Sorvino. 

3. What was the reception for Bad Impulse? 

I attended some film festival right before the pandemic and it was thrilling to watch it with an audience. It seemed that people were scared, on the edge of their seats, highly entertained, so I felt like I did my job. We had a great reception everywhere we went and won some awards, the latest screening was at the chinese theater with the golden state film festival and we won the audience favorite award there. 

4. Can you tell us how Bad Impulse ties into your career? 

I always wanted to have a career that was varied with directing different genres of movies. I don’t think people would expect me to direct something that starts off with such an edgy violent scene so I challenged myself to do something that I wouldn’t normally do. My favorite genre is romcom but I love thrillers and because of having directed Bad Impulse I got other offers for the same genre. I think it’s important to show people that you can do it. I connect with timely stories that touch you deeply. 

5. Can you tell us about your role, Helen? Is it hard to direct and also star in the movie?

Helen was a figure of authority and I was attracted to playing a villain. I think villains are great fun. It wasn’t very difficult to act and direct because I had a small part but pivotal because no part in a movie is small. I also have great collaborators and a support system on set with my producers and DP. 

6. What do you think about the movie? 

I love it. Of course when you’re a filmmaker watching your work you’re always thinking what else you could have done but I know I did the best I could in the midst of the LA fires and everyone’s schedules and the constraints of having to shoot an independent movie with all the challenges that go with it. 

7. How was the atmosphere on the set? Was the production smooth or did you have some issues? Did the current pandemic influence the filming in any way, or have you managed to finish it before?

The movie was finished before the pandemic, we actually had a premiere right before. The movie came out in December 2020 during the pandemic. The first 3 days of principal photography I had lost my voice, so I was whispering and it infused a calmness because everyone started speaking softly. At one point we had to evacuate because of the fires in LA but we got to shoot a beautiful house in Malibu that added great production value. 

8. Can you let us know more about your upcoming thriller movie The Runner?

I worked on the Runner with a lot of the same people as with Bad Impulse, it’s great to work with people that you have a shorthand with, same writer, same costume and production designer. I came up with the story as I was watching a news report late at night that brought me to tears about teens that are forced to wear a wire by the police to bring down drug lords. I wrote a treatment and gave it to Jason Chase-Tyrrell, he wrote the screenplay, we collaborated really well, he was on set a lot, which I loved. 

9. Have you had more problems filming this movie during the pandemic?

I was lucky enough to finish principal photography right before the lockdown, we figuratively got into the elevator as the doors closed. The thing that was incredible was that for the first time I was relaxed during the editing process. I told myself that I had all the time in the world and I did because we couldn’t leave the house. It gave me the luxury of really taking my time. 

10. You again have an acting role in the movie, this time Rita. Can you let us know more about her? 

This one was a really short scene, Rita is the clerk in the convenience store, it was really just fun to step in front of the camera for a few hours and have a cameo. 

11. What can you reveal to us about the upcoming The Runner? 

I was teaching a class one night and all the lights went out in santa monica and there were 3 scenes left and I told the students to turn on their flashlights and this students of mine, Edouard Philipponnat did his scene and it sent chills down my spine and I thought we was perfect for the movie I’m developing, I gave him the script and the rest is history. What is great about this story is that because of this movie, he got a big agent in hollywood and this summer he was filming the new Ridley Scott movie opposite lady gaga 

12. Will there be a trailer for The Runner and when can we expect it? 

Yes, the trailer is available on Youtube

13. Can you let us know when will we see the wide release of The Runner?

I think it will probably be released at the beginning of next year, we have several offers from distributors for theatrical release. Of course, every filmmaker wants to see their movie on the big screen. It’s currently playing at film festivals all over the US and worldwide and coming up including Thriller/Suspense Festival, Catalina Film Festival on September 18th, Silicon Beach Film Festival at the Chinese Theater on October 2nd.

14. Do you think the pandemic will influence the box office success of The Runner, for better or worse? (it will probably have less competition, but, of course, fewer people will be going to cinemas)? 

I don’t know. I was expecting that there would be a lack of content but the truth is, we are overwhelmed with wonderful things to watch. I don’t think there will be a drought of content, not only features but also the golden age of TV and international movies from all over the world are available to devour. But people are also ready to go back to the movie theaters and watch on the big screen. 

15. This is currently a hot topic, so do you think it would be better for the movie to go straight to one of the streaming services? 

I think it’s great to have the option to see it on the big screen. I know for myself, everything I see in the theater surrounded by people that either laughed, screamed in fear or cried, it raised the experience of watching great stories. 

16. What can you tell us about your plans for the future? 

I am very excited to be working on 2 comedies, The Italians and Starstruck. This is exactly what is needed after this crazy time. The Italians about a typical Italian-American family meets their sons new girlfriend. And Starstruck is about a slick ad exec gets his perfect world turned upside down when he’s forced to live his life through his horoscope. Lots of Laughs 

17. I see you like acting in the movies you direct, and I know there are other directors/actors out there, but can you let us know more about it. Why do you do it, is it harder to do both roles, how do others on the set think about it, and which one is your favorite? 

It’s absolutely harder to act in your own movies but many directors have done it and I think the key is to be really well prepared and to have a strong vision. If you haven’t proven yourself already it’s possible that you will get pushback from other actors because they feel they don’t have your unde=ivided attention and they might be right. It really all depends who you are surrounded with and you have to have a good reason for directing and acting at the same time.

You can check out Michelle Danner’s site on the link.

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