An Interview with Michelle Shields – By Nic Brown

Horror Hound Weekend draws horror fans from all over the country to Indianapolis each March. The 2011 event was no exception. Fans lined up to meet some of their favorite starts or to attend special screenings or workshops. Milling through the crowds, it wasn’t hard to find actress Michelle Shields. The hard part was getting a chance to talk with her.

It’s not surprising that fans wanted to stop by; Michelle is known for her films (both indie and Hollywood alike) and for her work in television as a host for “Indy Chicago” and cast member on “World of the Weird Monster Show”. The energetic young actress and filmmaker had a steady stream of fans at her booth. Some of them were eager to pick up a photo or poster; others were excited about the special Horror Hound exclusive comic, featuring a character based on her. Still some just wanted to stop by and say hi. Whatever the case, Michelle’s friendly personality made everyone feel welcome.

Michelle was one of the first actresses to be featured in B Movie Man’s Women of Horror series and it was a real treat to catch up with her at Horror Hound and find out what new projects she’s been working on. So when the crowds finally waned, I got to sit down with her and talk about her new film projects, her love of filmmaking, and why it’s more fun to work on an indie film than a big budget Hollywood movie.

*   *   *

Nic – Michelle, how’s Horror Hound Weekend for you so far?

Michelle – It’s been fantastic! I’ve been having a ball with the show, it’s been so busy I can’t believe it!

Nic – I understand that you’re here promoting one of your new projects is that right?

Michelle – You are! I’m here promoting Comic Book Divas. Comic Book Divas is a great company, Jeff Hughes is amazing and I love him! Today we’re featuring the comic book “Fangs” and we’ve got something really special, it’s a Horror Hound exclusive variant cover of the book so it’s only available here. I’ve been trying to let people know about it because we’ve been selling a lot of them and we’re almost out.

Nic – So what is Comic Book Divas and why is it different from other comics?

Michelle – Comic Book Divas uses different actresses and models and their likenesses in their comics! It’s a unique concept and I’m surprised no one else has done it, but Comic Book Divas is amazing enough to do it first and I’m so happy to be a part of it! In this book [“Fangs”] I play a vampire named Sapphire and I’m in it with actresses Devany Pinn (PIRANHA 3D) and Deneen Melody.

Now for anyone not at Horror Hound Weekend who’s interested in picking up a copy, they can visit the website: www.ComicBookDivas.com. You can either get a digital copy of any of the issues there or you can order the actual books, whichever you’d like.

Nic – Comic Book Divas sounds really cool and I love the artwork. Shifting gears a bit though, what have you been up to lately film wise? Rumor has it you’ve been a busy bee.

Michelle – I have! I’ve been up to a lot lately! I’m currently I’m in the middle of filming FRANKENSTEIN: DAY OF THE BEAST. This is a great project and I’m playing Elisabeth Frankenstein so I’m excited about that role. I’ve always been a fan of the Frankenstein story so this is a childhood dream come true for me!

I’ve also been helping to promote POST MORTEM AMERICA 2021 because we’re planning to premiere that film at the end of this year, maybe in October is what Cameron Scott [writer/director] said. That should be a big month because FRANKENSTEIN should be done by then so I may have two films premiering that month! Not to mention, Scott Greenkey’s film SISTER MARY released through James Vella films; that’s going to be premiering this July. Plus I’m looking at starting work on a few more projects but I can’t say much about them right now.

Nic – FRANKSTEIN: DAY OF THE BEAST sounds great and I think most horror fans know how Elisabeth would fit into that story. So why don’t you tell us a little more about your role in POST MORTEM AMERICA 2021.

Michelle – I love my character in POST MORTEM because she’s really different from anything I’ve seen out there in the horror genre before. She’s a psychopath…yeah that’s nothing too unusual, but I love playing her because she’s a crazy, cyberpunk assassin… with a cool Cockney accent (laughs). I had a great time creating the character. I made the wig and put the costume together myself. I’m very proud of it and I had a wonderful experience working on the film with Cameron, Jim O’Rear, Linea Quigley, and everyone else so I’m looking forward to the premiere!

Nic – Most of the projects we’ve been talking about have been independent films. However, you’ve done a number of major studio projects as well such as BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT. How do you think it’s different working in independent films as opposed to bigger budget productions?

Michelle – Well I’ve working on films like THE DARK KNIGHT, FRED CLAUS and PUBLIC ENEMIES, those were all great experiences and I had the opportunity to meet some very cool people like Heath Ledger, Johnny Depp and Vince Vaughn and it is a lot of fun. It was also a lot of “hurry up and wait”, which I guess most films are, but it seems to be more so for the studios.

Also when it comes to independent filmmaking I feel like you see more of a passion from people. The cast, the crew, everyone is there because of their love of the project, not just because it’s another job. The people seem to have more fun things to talk about too and in general you get to have more fun on the set between takes and behind the scenes. In FRANKENSTEIN we were singing and dancing between the takes, and in POST MORTEM we were taking goofy zombie pics and stuff like that. I just think it’s more fun to work on the independent films.

Nic – Now we’ve talked about your work in front of the camera, would you like to try your hand at some of the behind the camera work as well?

Michelle – I’ve always had an interest in that kind of work. I’ve actually got some experience doing special effects for a couple of films and I have even been asked about directing a film or two, but I just haven’t been able to do that yet. I definitely want to do more with the special effects and I also want to direct. I love all aspects of filmmaking so whether I’m in front of the camera or behind it, all that is really important to me is that I want to do this for the rest of my life!

Nic – You’ve done some special effects work? What type do you prefer, old school latex and fake blood or are you into CGI?

Michelle – Definitely the “old school” style. If you look at a lot of films and compare films done with CG effects to ones done with make-up and models…even puppetry, you look at all that goes into it and you can tell that it’s usually much higher quality and more believable than something drawn in with CG.

Nic – Going back to your acting, what director would you most like to work with on a project?

Michelle – I definitely want to work with Rob Zombie. I think he’s an amazing director and I love all of his films. I feel that coming from a musical background gives him a real insight into the scoring and use of music in film. I understand that there are people who don’t like his work and it’s true his style is not for everyone. But he [Zombie] is such a fan of the genre and it shows in his movies. That’s why I think working with him would just be awesome!

Nic -There is an old Chinese curse that says “May you live in interesting times.” Anyone who has worked in the film industry knows how interesting it’s been in the new millennium. How do you feel the film industry has changed over the past decade?

Michelle – On the industry as a whole I don’t know. One thing that I’ve seen that affects me personally is the way the internet has changed things for actors. What I’m talking about is that now, even though you can get an agent, and many people do, you don’t necessarily need one to find work. That’s especially true for the independent films. The internet has given actors the ability to put themselves out there and do things for themselves that they once needed an agent for.

Also, the improvements in the quality and price of cameras available on the market, the quality of editing software and all the other technical elements have really made it possible for independent films with a low budget to look really good…. If you know what to do with the money that is. The changes in technology have really made it possible for independent filmmakers to see their own dreams come true without having to get a big studio to come in and tell them what to do with their work.

Nic – OK, last question. I know you can’t talk about some of the projects you’re working on, but is there anything you have coming up that you’d like to share with us?

Michelle – Well…there are a few projects I really can’t talk about now, but there is one that I’m going to be a part of that we’ll start working on pretty soon is called MOUNTAIN OF THE FLESH EATERS. I’m pretty excited about that one because in a lot of my films I play the bad guy, but in this one I get to be a little goodie two shoes so I’m looking forward to that. But I can’t tell you much more right now.

*   *   *

Related Links:
http://www.myspace.com/michelleshields
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2512598
http://www.youtube.com/theMichelleShields
http://www.facebook.com/MichelleShieldsActress