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I was sitting alone at the bar, pondering. It was an off night, but knowing I was to
play The Black Dahlia, I had to start my research somewhere. And so there I sat
at the bar at one of the oldest Haunts in Hollywood, The Formosa Cafe. Above
the bar, I was quickly scanning the old Hollywood glossy 8x10's of Audrey
Hepburn and Walter Matthau to name a few. I couldn't help but go back in time,
and recreate my own scenario of young girls in the 1940s, walking into this
happening place hoping to get discovered. Jack the Ripper was known to whisper
to prostitutes asking "Are you Mary Clarke?" Hollywood producers are
no different. They instead would whisper to pretty girls, one of the biggest
lies on the planet "I have a role of a lifetime for you."
"We need to work together, again" said the very
beautiful dark-haired and big blue-eyed, Devanny Pinn. Although Devanny is
known for being a B-Scream Horror Queen, to me, she exudes the old Hollywood
feel of actress Loretta Young. I looked
at her after that comment, and said, "Um, ok." The only reason I
answered that way is, although I did believe her, I still thought, “If I had a nickel for every time someone
said that to me. I would own an Island with no phones.” Well, Devanny Pinn and
Brandon Slagle definitely gave me my nickels’ worth. Brandon and his directing style remind me of
Woody Allen. I enjoyed immensely receiving his mysterious e-mails with script
notes. It is an actor’s dead sea scroll.
I received an e-mail from Pinnovating Productions in May
2012. For me, the first time receiving a
script feels like Christmas morning. When I read this title for the very first
time, it felt like all of my favorite holidays rolled into one:
To research this character, I contacted Charlie Morfin, film
noir enthusiast. I was a little hesitant walking in the footsteps of Elizabeth Short, but
found myself at the Hirsh Apartments on Cherokee and Yucca; Apt. 501, where she
lived. I knew by me meddling, Pandora's Box would start to open, again. This film had an effect on all of us in some way. I would be texting and emailing the director,
constantly keeping him in the loop with all of my Dahlia notes. We never
discussed it with one another, but in a small way, I knew we were all sleuths trying
to resolve a crime that will never be solved. And at the same time, also make a
My first day on set is something I’ll never forget. As I was
slowly walked into this dark, unsettling joint, scanning the torture rooms with
these extremely morbid gadgets, I
felt a strong sense of outer body
vulnerability. I was scared. I felt powerless. I was in The Dungeon, a real
S&M Club in Los Angeles. While the crew was setting up, a sadist walked into the room looking like
she wanted to hurt someone. She asked Devanny who she will be cutting tonight,
mistaking me for one of her victims. “No, no, no, no, this is a real actress.
We are doing a real movie! No one is really getting cut! We just need a knife
debriefing" says Devanny. My frozen
eyes locked right into Devanny's. Is this how Elizabeth Short felt seconds
before she knew she was going to die?
Devanny and Brandon wanted to make TBDH as detailed and
authentic as possible. This is a low budget psychological thriller/horror film
about a young woman by the name of Holly Jenson (played by Pinn) investigating
the murder of her parents by her blind younger brother (Noah Dahl). Holly
encounters the spirit of Elizabeth Short, known in lore as The Black Dahlia. I’ve
portrayed tortured souls before in films, and even though TBDH plot may be fiction,
the way Short was murdered in this movie, was true. This brutal murder happened.
And right then and there, I knew the
scene between Cleve Hall (SyFy's monster
Monster Man) and myself would be a test to my well being, and soul.
This is not a gore film from beginning to end, but with
Adrian Marcato's brilliant FX, we make sure we educate the audience of
Elizabeth's last moments with disturbing realism. I recently emailed Adrian and
said "You will be so proud of your fantastic work... on my face!"
I was standing in front of Brandon and Devanny, and felt a
smirk. Perhaps it was a little of the Dahlia taking over, but starring and
watching them collaborate with one another,
I not only knew this motion picture was going to happen, I knew this experience
would carve out our individual paths, indefinitely. The chemistry on this set
between director and actor is something unexplainable. We are that team where
Brandon would say “Action,” and we all worked hard! And when he said “Cut,” we
all went out for burgers and beers afterward, and didn't even think twice.
These creative storytellers make movies about the unsettling
side of reality. THE BLACK DAHLIA HAUNTING is their passion project. It was
written in May 2012, shot in June, and then
edited throughout July and August.
"Move closer to the fire hydrant" said Brandon,
who is slightly kneeling down, holding the camera and about to say
"Action." I was staring down
at my black heels, as the orange sunset bounces off the green grass under my
feet. There was not this dramatic surge
that ran across my bod, but I knew right here—exactly where I was standing—is
where they found her body. Throughout my meddling, sleuthing, and Charlie
telling me the secrets of old Hollywood, I always felt an unsettling and
indescribable feeling in my gut when I started my Dahlia mission. And the
unsettled sensation I felt during the shoot, was not an Elizabeth Short visitation.
It was just her lingering presence of abandonment.
• Fans who cannot live without the Syfy TV hit show, GHOST HUNTERS: You’ll get a real
treat watching Ghost Hunter Britt
Griffith playing Dr. Brian Owen. You can also look out for him in another up-and-coming
Pinnovating Production; THE ZODIAC
LEGACY. Also in the movie is the lovely starlet, Jessica Cameron (SILENT NIGHT) who plays Norma
Jean, aka Marilyn Monroe.
• THE BLACK DAHLIA HAUNTING will be opening Shockfest 2012
at Raleigh Studios in Los Angeles CA, and also will be screening at the Las
Vegas Pollygrind Film Festival.
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