Horror Factoid: In The Orphanage (2007) Laura's necklace, a St. Anthony medallion, makes a clever reference to her plight. In Catholic religion, St. Anthony is a doctor and patron saint of lost items.






« Interview with the Writer/Director of SHELLTER »

How did you come up with the concept for SHELLTER?


Dan Donely- Well that’s pretty easy, the center of the film is the Milgrim Experiment, which is that shocking experiment. That’s really where the kernel came from for the film. I had seen a couple of things, most notably something about a guy where he had kept people locked up, he had kidnaped people and lock them up in his cellar. He is a famous kind of guy for doing this sort of thing, famous in a crazy sorta way, ya know. I was just kinda rolling the two ideas around in my head and that’s really where it came from. I wanted to do something that highlighted that experiment and because I thought it was a great such a great thing. I really didn’t want to do, “hey there’s a film, there’s people, here is some blood lets beat them with some hammers or something”. In the end I wanted it to be about something and I think I achieved that.


How many films have you been both the writer and director?

DD- I have been both writer and director on two films. The first one was called SHADOWS. I’m telling you if you are going to write and direct films here is the first thing that I am going to tell ya, never name them so the they are one word two syllable words that both start with the same first letter. No one can keep SHADOWS and SHELLTER straight.


Do you prefer to write or direct?

DD- I think direct; I am more of a production person. In other words I like the actual shooting, I’m not much of a post person, though that’s really where films are made. When I get done with production, I’m like oh see it’s done. Though I have to admit I like the writing aspect. Production is a team sport, so as a director you are really coordinating a lot of people and activities. Where as writing you can really sit down and it’s just me, myself and I having arguments about whether that character should say that line or not so there is something fun about writing. I do more directing than I do writing that’s for sure.


Was the casting process more challenging because of the content of the film?

DD- Ah, not really, people knew it was a horror film. It’s funny, people try out for parts on a film they have never read before then they actually read the film. Then you think, now I’m going to see if they want to keep the part I cast this for them. It was amazing how many people came back after reading the whole film, I was surprised how many. People were actually kind of excited about doing the film, though there were parts that the actors were not crazy about.


William Tulin was an amazing choice to play the doctor, was this character difficult to cast?

DD- Ah that’s kind of a backwards thing. When I wrote SHELLTER I had always pictured kind of an older fatherly, someone you would naturally see as trust worthy. I had a bunch of guys come in, older guys and then Will came in. When he read everyone in the room just turned to look at each other went wow, this was something different that we weren’t expecting at all. It took me about 24 to 48 hours to go home and chew on it. Then watch his audition tape over and over again. After I made the jump of it doesn’t have to be an old guy, there was no ones else who could play the part. He was just like that the day he read it.


How long did it take to shoot this film?

DD- Well what you see there on the screen, if I added it all up, was probably 10 days. We were 7 days in the shelter, there was a day that was spent at a house in Seal Beach doing her apartment stuff and doing the café scene. There was another day when we were in the house where she climbs up the stairs. There were probably 2 half days that make up the 10th day.


Did you experience any unique problems when writing or shooting this film?

DD- No not really, except when it came to the editing part.


What scene is your favorite?

DD- Well I think I have a couple of favorite scenes. The whole shocking sequence, the film bookcases around this sequence. One scene that I don’t think belongs in the film but I left in there anyway, because it cracks me up is when she goes to get a drink of water and Will goes over and pees in the background. I think it actually kinda slows down the film and breaks it apart. For those of us that were there it just cracks us up especially since I made it sound like Will has like a prostate problem where he kinda dribbles along. I just cracked myself up.


Did the film come out the way you imagined it when you wrote it?

DD- Pretty much, except for the first part.


Some people would compare Shellter to other films like Hostel and Saw, were these films inspirational to you?

DD- Just from the torture porn aspect. I don’t know why they are called torture porns since there is no porn in then but they’re called torture porns so I will play along. Actually I think especially SAW, especially the first SAW I actually thought that they were kinda slow so I tried to make something just terrible happen every second. I’m not going to say so much it was an inspiration but I think it gave us a niche. Ya know those 2 films really opened up that niche to where people just went “oh its some torture films” there is almost a sub-genre there now. That made it easier for SHELLTER to be there.

Interview By: Melanie Kester

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>