A thriller film dealing with timely themes is a passion project for Dani Barker, a Salmon Arm native who is now making her mark on the movie business in New York City.
Barker wrote the film, entitled Follow Her, and also plays the lead role. She is working with award-winning director Sylvia Caminer and cinematographer Luke Geissbuhler. Starring opposite Barker is Luke Cook.
The story follows an aspiring actress who takes increasing risks to bust men posting sketchy jobs aimed at young women on internet classifieds, all while secretly filming it for a popular live stream show.
For her next episode, she is hired to write the ending of a screenplay. Unlike most of the men that post jobs, Tom the co-writer is exceptionally alluring and Barker’s character, Jess, is immediately drawn to his charm.
She follows him to a cabin in the woods where tensions between them build and the work on the screenplay becomes a tense game of cat and mouse with life or death stakes.
Barker said her film aims to make a statement on the way people measure their success through online popularity and the accompanying loss of control and sense of self.
After starting to develop the script approximately a year and a half ago, Barker’s excitement to complete the film has only grown.
“This has become my baby project now,” she said.
The film is part way through principle photography with all of the scenes taking place at a secluded property in upstate New York shot in March and April of this year. Once shooting and post production are complete, Barker said they will be submitting the film to film festivals. Barker and her collaborators are also seeking the backing of film distributors, particularly those who specialize in horror and thriller films.
She said a screening in Salmon Arm is also a possibility.
Barker said the process of obtaining money to make the film has often been challenging and stressful. Lacking investment from a production company, friends and family of Barker and others working on the film have come aboard as investors.
Although they had heard plenty of stories of the challenges of making it in show business, Barker said her family was very supportive as she left Salmon Arm to pursue an acting career that took her first to Toronto and then to New York. Barker said her parents, who still reside in the Shuswap have also gotten behind Follow Her.
Growing up in Salmon Arm, Barker was a cast member in several Shuswap Theatre and R.J. Haney dinner theatre productions. She said she was also encouraged to enter her field by the theatre teachers she learned from while at Salmon Arm Secondary. She said she was close with Steve Heal, a theatre teacher who she worked as an assistant director for on one of the school’s productions.
“He was one of my biggest cheerleaders,” Barker said.
Barker said she hopes the film will be completed by early 2020 and that she has other projects, including a sequel to Follow Her, featuring a larger cast of characters, in the works.