Michelle Danner, Artistic Director at Edgemar Center of the Arts in Santa Monica and one of the most successful acting coaches in Hollywood, is director of the film version of John Buffalo Mailer’s “Hello Herman” starring Norman Reedus, Martha Higareda and newcomer Garrett Backstrom. The film, an unflinching examination of today’s society through the eyes of a young copycat killer and the journalist who sees the tragedy as a potential boost for his own career, is an adaptation of the play of the same name, also written by Norman Mailer’s youngest son. The film is currently available on OnDemand and iTunes.
“’Hello Herman’ is the story of a teenager who, out of confusion and rage, carries out a high school shooting that mirrors the tragedy of Columbine,” says Danner. “Certain members of the media only heighten the tragedy by sensationalizing it and setting out to televise his execution.”
“This is a story of prejudice and isolation,” she continues, “as well as the racism, bullying and violence that our youth encounter in schools that has the potential to lead to these high school tragedies. As the mother of an 8-year-old boy, the themes resonate with me.
“When we staged the screenplay at Edgemar, Steven Spielberg, Oliver Stone, Paul Haggis and others came and were moved by the material and we knew we had to make this film,” added Danner.
This timely and disturbing film offers no answers, but, Danner hopes, may spark a much-needed dialogue between our nation’s youth and their peers, parents and teachers.
As acting coach, Danner works with many A-list actors both privately and on the set, including Gerard Butler, Chris Rock, Penelope Cruz, James Franco, Salma Hayek, Christian Slater, Zooey Deschanel, Isla Fisher and Marcia Cross among others.
She was featured coaching Andy Richter on “The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien” in 2009 and is currently writing two books on acting, “The Golden Box” and “100 Most Asked Questions About Acting.” In 2000, Danner and acting coach Larry Moss raised $1.5 million from donors including Steven Speilberg, Tom Hanks, Kate Capshaw and Neil Simon to build and open the Edgemar Center which houses two theatres and an art gallery.