Interview with LACED actress and producer Dana Mackin after the Panic Fest premiere

A modern day neo noir thriller with the twists and turns that rival the best in the genre. LACED tells the story of a couple on a secluded weekend getaway where the secrets from their past and present collide in murder. I was fortunate enough to meet with the creatives from LACED at Panic Fest in Kansas City on April 14th. For a dark story they could not have been nicer which is normally the case from what I have found for the creatives in genre film making. Dana was one of the first of the team I met and after watching the film and meeting her in person, it was obvious to me this is a woman that is going to have an incredible career in film.

Dana Mackin as Molly in LACED

How has your recovery been since the premiere of Laced and what did you think of Panic Fest? 

Dana Mackin: Panic Fest was amazing because everyone there was so informed and enthusiastic about indie filmmaking. For the past 2+ years we’ve all been so focused on the film, and have had to make an active effort to talk to our friends and family about literally anything else. Panic Fest almost felt like a relief, because we could have a 45 minute long conversation with a near stranger about day-for-night shooting, 5.1 mixes, or distribution terms without them checking their watch. In terms of recovery…our team is one of extroverts, but I know that for the first two days back we all just needed a bit of time to recharge that social battery and battle the near-addiction level dependency on red bull that I personally developed the weekend of Panic Fest. 

We spoke briefly at the festival regarding the array of films classified within the genre label. What was your gateway drug for each of you into genre films and how did that influence your film career and taste in films for the future? 

Dana Mackin: I have a secret to share: I am a huge baby when it comes to “scary” movies. I slept on the floor of my parents bedroom until I was twelve, terrified that I was going to be abducted by aliens or possessed by an ancient demon, and I can admit that I am still absolutely afraid of the dark. When I was but a sheltered little kid at a Thanksgiving gathering one year, one of my ten million cousins decided to throw on Signs in the living room, and I exited that room fully traumatized. For about a decade after that I avoided genre films like the plague, certain that I would be unable to sleep for years after any of them. Imagine my surprise when a friend of mine forced me to watch The Babadook and, despite the fact that I cried at one point, I found myself enthralled with the power of the genre and enthusiastic about the idea of instilling that same reaction in others with my own stories. I think that in a lot of ways, being an absolute wuss has motivated my passion for genre films, because I know how powerfully fear can be translated through the screen.

I spoke with Kyle about how much I love the poster for Laced. It’s not a design that I see that much and I wish I did. How closely were you involved in designing the poster? Have there been any surprising reactions to the poster and what have they been? 

Dana Mackin: I am a total maniac and control freak about the art displayed in my apartment. Kyle hung up a 27×40 print of the poster in our kitchen, and it’s still there. It’s Mattisse, Rothko, and now Krasnopolski. I love this poster. So far that’s been the reaction across the board, but I’m curious to see if at any point there will be questions raised about its commercial appeal – I have faith that the general public doesn’t need a heavily edited picture of a fearful face, dripping blood, or a “scary” font to garner interest in a film like this, but I suppose we’ll have to wait and see!

The location and music seemed like the 5th and 6th costars of the film. How was the location found for the film? How important was the music to you and how hands on were you with the involvement? 

Dana Mackin: Kyle spent nearly a month obsessing over a temp score for the film – he knew exactly what he wanted for it, and when we found Steph Copeland it was like the film gods had hand-picked her for him. Her hard work and talent elevated this film in a massive way, and she also just happened to be an absolute pleasure to work with. Not only did the cabin provide the perfect set for this script, it also provided a place for all of the cast and crew to sleep during production. I think the fact that it feels like a costar in the film speaks so much to the talent of our DP, Sam Robinson, and the way he and Kyle worked together to make every shot in this single location dynamic and thoughtful.

With starring producing, directing and writing the film along with wardrobe and makeup, Dana and Kyle you had your hands pretty full. Will you be doing the same with your next film? 

Dana Mackin: I’ve always thought of myself as an actor by trade, but producing this film has been an incredibly empowering, challenging, and educational experience. I loved being a part of every step of the process, from pre-production all the way through to this space of festivals and marketing, and I feel certain that this is just the start of my journey as a producer. That being said, applying high-stakes special effects prosthetics and then hopping directly in front of the camera to try and deliver an authentic and intensely emotional performance was, in a word, stressful. So I would love to not ever do those two things on the same day ever, ever, ever again. 

Where is Laced going next? 

SunScreen in St. Petersburg (Florida, not Russia) and hopefully many more festivals after that!

And the litmus test question for The Blonde in Front: Who is your favorite space pirate? 

I’m stealing Kyle’s answer on this one – Treasure Planet. Best Mcdonald’s happy meal toys to date, in my opinion.