Actress, producer, director, writer and filmmaker, Portia Chellelynn (aka Michelle Morris) kicked off her career as a model before transitioning into music videos and ultimately, feature films. Her latest, the multi-award winning horror film, H.P. Lovecraft’s Witch House, saw the Alabama-born triple threat nominated for Best Actress at The North Film Festival out of Stockholm Sweden. The pic, based on a story by H.P Lovecraft, releases next week on digital and DVD.
How did the role in WITCH HOUSE come about?
I was at a Days of the Dead horror convention in 2018, and Bobby Easley approached me at the hotel pool, where I was swimming like a fish, and he asked if I would like to audition. I think he was thinking of the scene where Alice jumps into a murky pond, in the dark. Dustin Kay had also recommended me to him.
And did it take much preparation?
It did take quite a bit of preparation. I go through and highlight all of Alice’s lines. I had an extensive wardrobe, probably around 10 outfits, but some didn’t make it into the final cut of the film. I combed through the entire script and mapped out what outfit I was wearing in every scene. I spent a few weeks making call sheets. I had memorized my dissertation months ahead of time, which changed and then was shortened, but I just go with the flow. I had to keep my hair and nails short for two years, and buy several of the same color of nail polish in case it was discontinued, or something. There were lots of preparations!
Anything you had to learn how to do on the film that you hadn’t done before?
Putting ginormous black contacts in my eyes, levitating, speaking in Latin, and how to make stabbing scenes look legit.
On this special effects-clad films actors are usually forced to use their imaginations as they act opposite… well, nothing. Can you speak about that? Did you have a tennis ball on a string to act opposite at times?
Whenever we did the green screen scenes, I would concentrate on someone else, or something in the room. I can’t recall whom, or what though.
Tell me about your director. Did they encourage ideas and input from the cast?
Bobby is a go-getter, an intelligent and fun person to work with. He did encourage ideas and input from us.
And what lovely locations – where were they?
The infamous and historic Hannah House, Bobby’s house, a magic shoppe, and Eagle Creek Park were the main locations in Indianapolis. We also did a few pick-up driving scenes in and around Princeton, IL. Whenever you see the windmills and the covered bridge Alice drives across, those were the handful of Illinois shots.
What do you think the chances of a sequel are?
I could see a sequel. The ending definitely left it open.