by Katherine Tejeda
Actress Danielle Panabaker spoke with Washington Square News about working on the set of “Girls Against Boys” and gave some insight about her character Shae. “Girls Against Boys” is a film about what happens when someone reaches their breaking point. After Shae (Panabaker) experiences a traumatic event, she and her friend Lu (Nicole LaLibert) go on a killing spree targeting all the men who have caused Shae pain.
Panabaker can be seen on “Bones” this February, in a recurring role on USA’s “Necessary Roughness,” as well as another independent film called “Time Lapse.”
What attracted you to that part and how did you land the role?
The script was first sent to me while I was outside of town shooting something else. I took a look at it and I was really compelled by the story of a young woman coming of age. She goes through some really traumatic events and has a really interesting way of coping with it. It was a great opportunity to see a character through a full arc. I took a look at the script hopped on a plane to have a chat with Austin [Chick] for a while. Then he and I met in person and we got along swimmingly. That is what really sealed the deal for me because it is such a personal and powerful experience, I needed to be working with someone I felt I can trust and empower me to give the best performance possible.
How is it different or the same as other things you have done?
It was different in a lot of ways. We made this for less than a million dollars and that set a lot of challenges. It was a very physically demanding shoot. We shot six days a week and I was rehearsing on my days off. I was constantly exhausted and running around. It was physically very challenging but also emotionally challenging. I tried to do my research and be respectful of women who have gone through an experience like this. It was draining to be in that mind-space on a regular basis. So for the most part it was quite different. It was a great experience to be in New York. I feel like we were very lucky to find the location we got to shoot at so I’m very grateful for that.
What was the most difficult scene to film and why?
I think a lot of the scenes in the loft were challenging because there is such a variety of emotions and I wanted to be really authentic to the material. Those were very difficult days and one of those days, the Captain Crunch day, I got really sick of the cereal so I think that would have been one of the more challenging things.
Why do you think it is that Shae was attracted to Lu as a friend and a protector of sorts?
Shae has gone through this horrible event [and] it’s not necessarily something that you want to tell to anyone or ask anyone for help. I think that’s one of the more difficult parts. Women tend to feel, from the material I read, very ashamed and like it’s their fault. Lu, she sort of moved in and takes her under her wings. And having a friend, I would imagine, would be very comforting for Shae.
When Shae and Lu are dancing in the club everything slows down. It seemed like some sort of transformation. Do you think that is the moment where Shae becomes someone new?
I think the movie is filled with a lot of moments that are very powerful for Shae. I think you’re right and I think that’s certainly one of them. In particular I think that’s the moment where she’s been drinking and all of sudden she catches her breath and looks around and wonders what am I doing here. I think it does sort of change the direction a little bit.
During the murder scenes Lu and Shae are nonchalant and indifferent to the people they’ve just killed. Why do you think they were able to treat them that way?
I think a lot of it stems from Shae’s level of shock. It only takes place around 48 hours so that’s a really traumatic weekend for her and I think that she is still processing it all. So I think that’s how she sort of moves forward.
Do you think Shae is justified in killing those men because technically speaking she is a criminal?
Yes, legally she is a criminal but I don’t see it that way. Even in real life I don’t think she’s justified, but this is a film. This is an alternate reality. It’s sort of a fantasy playing out. You know, “What if?” We can all relate to a situation where we wanted to get back at someone because of the pain they’ve caused us. She gets to live out that fantasy. What was really appealing to me about this film was that moment in the end where you’re left thinking, “Was this real, did it actually happen?” That’s really powerful.
If there is one thing you would want the audience to take away from the film what would it be?
I hope people walk out of the theater with questions. I hope it stimulates conversation and particularly that last scene I hope makes people ask themselves, “Did it really happen?” I hope people leave the theater talking.
Fun Fact: Daniel Sollinger, one of the producers on the film, is an NYU alum.
Katherine Tejeda is a contributing writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.