It isn’t easy being an up and coming actress in the film industry, but if you want to hit it big, sometimes you’ve got to go head-to-head with some vicious, tongue-eating isopods.
Barry Levinson’s “The Bay” features Kether Donohue as Donna Thompson, a wannabe reporter interning for a local news station whose first assignment happens to be covering the Independence Day festival in Claridge, Maryland, a town located just alongside the Chesapeake Bay. While she and her cameraman are getting footage of the town dunk tank and crab eating contest, something is brewing in the water nearby, or rather at that point, inside the Claridge residents. All of a sudden, the townsfolk start breaking out in terrible rashes, losing their minds and, ultimately, dropping dead, and Donna is right there in the middle of the mayhem.
“The Bay” has a lot of characters and a lot of horrific scenarios, but what makes Donna’s ordeal stand out from the lot is that she’s the one guiding us through the experience. With “The Bay” due for a November 2nd debut, Donohue took the time to dish on the responsibility of pulling all the found footage together, working with Academy Award winning director Barry Levinson, a deleted scene from the film, her hopes of reuniting with “Pitch Perfect” producer Elizabeth Banks and much more. Check it all out in the interview below.
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Get your last gulps of water in because after you catch Barry Levinson’s “The Bay,” you may never indulge in the tap again – unless you have a heavy-duty purifier.
“The Bay” focuses on the town of Claridge, Maryland. Located right on the Chesapeake Bay, the town’s Independence Day festivities include a dunk tank, swimming, crab-eating contest and more, with some water guzzling in between to beat the summer heat. Too bad their neglectful mayor opts to brush the mysterious death of a pair of oceanographers under the rug, otherwise citizens might have been able to avoid ingesting what’s actually a toxic breeding ground for deadly isopods.
Just before unleashing the nightmare on the New York Comic Con crowd, Levinson sat down for a quick one-on-one chat. Check out what he had to say about the story’s horrifying factual roots, only using consumer cameras, one young actress’ evolution from day player to prime character and more.
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Typically a found footage film means one person just happens to be recording during a phenomenon and just so happens to be committed enough to risk his or her life to keep recording in order to tell the story from beginning to end in a format that just so happens to match a standard screenplay structure. Kudos to director Barry Levinson and writer Michael Wallach for making a movie that actually attempts to compile a more realistic version of found footage, but, in the end, doing so at the expense of a proper narrative and engaging characters just isn’t worth it.
Donna Thompson (Kether Donohue) is a college student interning at a local TV station who’s getting her first big gig – covering the Independence Day festivities in Claridge, Maryland. Conveniently located along the Chesapeake Bay, the day is packed with water-related events – swimming, a crab eating contest, a dunk tank and more. Too bad none of the Claridge officials properly investigated the recent case of two dead oceanographers. Otherwise they might have realized a parasitic outbreak was brewing in their pristine bay.
The story is framed just as you might expect – three years after the nightmare, Donna finally gets ahold of the footage from July 4, 2009 and opts to stitch it together, creating a found footage film. Donohue’s a fine actress, but it’s a tough sell as Levinson merely has 2012 Donna preaching to a computer camera, Skype-style in an empty room. But what makes it even tougher to connect to Donna is the fact that “The Bay” isn’t even her story. Donna commands a good portion of the film’s first act, but then we move into a montage of Donna’s 2009 footage as well as snippets from a number of other perspectives.
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The found-footage genre has come a long way since The Blair Witch Project back in 1999, or perhaps I should say since Cannibal Holocaust from 1980. But it was really Blair Witch that kicked off the filmmaking craze and made it accessible for moviegoers. That film, about a trio of film students who head out into the woods to make a documentary about the Blair Witch, arrived with the premise that the students went missing, but their footage was found. Thus, the found-footage genre (as its come to be known) was reinvented for the masses.
Why are you filming yourself?
After attempting to make my own mini-found-footage film while running through The Walking Dead Escape at San Diego Comic-Con, I can confirm that it’s absolutely impossible for someone to run from a witch or any kind of monster and still manage to shoot watchable footage. Your life vs. camera stability? I wonder which you would pick. But hey, this is the film industry we’re talking about — it’s okay to bend the believability rules a bit.
However, it’s not okay to 1) give a character a lame reason to be filming him or herself, or 2) offer absolutely no reason for a character to be filming him or herself. The documentary angle is generally a good play. It works in both Blair Witch and Troll Hunter. On the other hand, the excuse of needing to show people how something is really going down can be absurd. Cloverfield is lucky it’s so enthralling, otherwise I’d seriously be questioning Hud’s judgment. Then again, that concept does work a little better in REC and Quarantine. Something terrible is happening, but the people who are supposed to rush in and save the day are leaving victims to die in a nightmarish apartment building. Something isn’t right and the public has to know.
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