Dana Christina is a relative newcomer to the scene and the genre, but horror fans are already familiar with her thanks to Wynonna Earp. Extremity is sure to make her very familiar face and one horror fans will love more and more.
Horror fans are used to seeing you in television series Wynonna Earp, how was it for you to switch format from television to film?
The transition from television to film was an easy one, both sets were amazing to be on. There are always more unknows on film sets than on television sets because television sets are quick to find a rhythm, flow and routine as they are set up for a longer duration. Extremity’s set was exciting every day; it was 18 days of ice-cold weather, crazy sets, challenging environments and a roller coaster of emotions – all which facilitated the perfect place for Allison to come to life.
What attracted you to the part of Allison?
Allison was a character that felt far removed from me, I was attracted to the challenge and to the idea of stretching my limits as an actor. The layering of psychological elements into each gag in the haunt made Extremity more of a psychological thriller than a standard horror film and that’s what got me hooked.
What were your feelings about the extreme haunt setting? Were you familiar with this type of haunts before making the film?
I had never heard of extreme haunts before! I don’t think that we have any in Canada and I wasn’t aware of any of the ones in the USA. Before shooting, Anthony sent me video links of McKamey Manor… my immediate reaction was that this was something I’d never subject myself to. Extremity is a cautionary tale about extreme haunts, my fear of going to one lies in the fact that at some point something terrible is bound to happen, it’s just a matter of time. Although I’d never go to an extreme haunt myself I am still fascinated by them, it’s interesting to know about not only the intentions of the people who go to them but also about those that work at them – I think Extremity did a nice job of letting you look into the ‘behind the scenes’ world of an extreme haunt.
How did you prepare for the part mentally, emotionally, and physically?
The script provided a lot of back story and history of Allison, in film we get to see into Allison’s childhood quite a bit. Having a complex and dimensional script was one of the best preparation tools, alongside many conversations with Anthony. Everything that we did in Extremity was real, it was an incredibly physical role, going into filming in good health was very important to the success of filming. The sheer combination of being cold, the eerie sets and the physicality of the interactions with the other actors was enough to immediately be immersed in Allison’s world.
How was it to make your cinematic horror debut in a film with a few of the genre favorites in there in cameos and bigger parts for some?
It was an honor! I couldn’t have asked for more. I really feel lucky to be a part of this production.
How was it for you to go shoot in Canada, in the cold? Did it help set the tone for your performance or add to everything you had to contend with here?
I grew up in Canada, in the cold, so for me it was nice to be able to do something in the province I came from. The cold absolutely helped set the tone of the performance, not to mention the locations we shot had some real scare factor to them. We shot in some decommissioned buildings at an operational maximum-security psychiatric facility… it was scary!! The campus its-self felt like a movie set, some of these decommissioned buildings had strange rooms, hallways and doors that let your imagination run wild thinking of all the creepy things that may have happened there in the past. The set locations certainly set the tone.
What was the hardest for you to shoot, the emotional background for the character or the horror parts (without spoiling too much)? What was your favorite to shoot?
Without a doubt the emotional background was harder to shoot than the horror parts. Allison’s abusive past is a gut-wrenching story that many young women experience, it was hard to shoot and it was hard to watch. After shooting some of the more difficult scenes I remember having many other women on set rush to me to make sure I was okay, to give a hug and to just connect with me – It was unexpected but showed the power of what we were capturing. As for filming the horror parts, the cast and crew were incredible supportive and made me feel comfortable the whole time. My favorite part to shoot was in the water tank, it was warm! I thought the imagery of the water tank scenes was beautiful.
Do you find watching these things happen to yourself on screen difficult; do they affect you more than say a straight up dramatic scene?
I didn’t find it difficult to watch myself go through these experiences on screen, however, I always find it hard to watch others.
Were you ever genuinely scared while shooting? What would scare you to shoot and/or in everyday life?
The location was scary, it was uncomfortable, and those old buildings left a lot of questions unanswered. Being on set was a little bit different, you’re always surrounded by people so it’s comforting.
What is next for you that you can tell us about?
Extremity was my first feature film, I can’t wait for people to see it and what opportunities may follow.
Thank you Dana for this interview! Extremity is currently doing the arthouse/horror theater rounds and will be out on demand on the 5th of October.