Crash Discussions: Interview with Donna Swensen

1404738834_37795279001_3662535362001_video-still-for-video-3662506531001In the Jacob Ennis horror, KILL, GRANNY, KILL! Abby Daniels (Alicia M. Clark) leaves her family and rents a secluded farmhouse in the country. But there are rules to follow, and once she breaks them, Grandmother Mildred Mays (Donna Swensen) unleashes the horror.

Now, the star of the film, the wonderful Donna Swensen, takes time out from her current film projects to introduce herself and answer a few questions.

KILL, GRANNY KILL! will be released soon…


Tell us a little about yourself.

My family roots are Utah Mormon although I am not a Mormon. I grew up in St. Paul Minnesota where my father was a commercial illustrator. My mother was also an artist. We moved back to the Salt Lake area and I majored in art (painting) at the U and eventually worked as a commercial artist. This went on as I moved to San Francisco, Los Angeles, and finally to New York with twists and turns along the way. Around 2007/2008 any art career I had was very diminished and I thought perhaps I could do some background work for film. I found that frustrating and started acting classes. The main teacher I had for more than four years was Roger Hendricks Simon. I managed to get some principle jobs for TV, the Internet and short films in a fairly short time.


In KILL, GRANNY, KILL you play grandmother Mildred Mays who harbors a disturbing secret in her home. What drew you to the role?

I was invited to audition for this role and I sent them a couple of videos. They contacted me through my Backstage resume, I think, because of my age and non-union status. They needed a grandma type. I was never drawn to horror especially, but the Mildred character had some complexity and the fact that it was a lead role drew me in. You might say I just stumbled into this horror film.


How did you prepare for the performance?

Practicing going over lines repeatedly. I also was going to another theater class and practiced some of the scenes with others as a performance.


What was the set like on KILL, GRANNY, KILL, and how did it differ from your other films?

I was flown out to Kentucky and driven from the Louisville airport to a small town. I stayed in the director’s mother’s home. The area around the town was readymade for horror. Decrepit barns, broken down houses, weird artifacts, etc. Kentucky is famous for ghosts. It was difficult in that it was so low budget the hours could extend more than comfortable to get the work done. The director, Jacob Ennis, did an amazing job in directing, doing the camera work, and improvising in a limited time frame. The whole experience was unlike anything else I have done as an actor and was more interesting.


Do you enjoy horror films? Do you have any favorites?

I do not seek them out. I watched a lot of “True Blood” on HBO but got tired of it eventually. I like some of the old classic horror films. The current horror films I have not seen.


In 2015, your other horror, DEATH: A LOVE STORY will be released. Have you developed a taste for performing in horror Films?

I like strange, offbeat characters, horror or not. In that movie I am in a story called “Flip.” I am a creepy, slightly demented lady next door to a haunted house.


How did you get involved with television’s “Celebrity Ghost Stories”?

It was on one of the actor sites and I submitted. Also, I had a ghostly experience myself.


How does television differ from feature films, and which do you prefer?

If I had to choose, I think film, but I certainly wouldn’t turn down television. One may have more preparation time for film.


You have been involved with film since 2009, what brought you to acting and when did your career actually begin?

The last thing I ever thought I would do is act. I am an introvert. I did like to playact as a child with my friends and wanted to be in a Cinderella play as an ugly stepsister. My family left the summer resort area where it was to be, so that was the end of my childhood acting ambition. I thought I was going to be a visual artist and did a lot of drawing and school art projects. With acting, I started getting parts as soon as I started classes. At first they were student films and other unpaid jobs. I started getting paid local commercial work around 2009.


Besides acting, what do you enjoy doing?

Seeing live music performances. Mainly classical but I like many types of music. I would like to see more theater than I do. Films of course and good TV series. I like nature walks. Conversation. Food. Reading.


What is something you’d love horror fans to know about you?

I am speechless here.

(Photo from Movie Pilot.)

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