Talking with award-winning actress Erika Hoveland about a particularly dark character she portrayed from the fan-film, ‘Injustice for All (2016)’

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This weekend focuses on Michigan-made fan films, those tributes to film, television programs, comic books, books, or video games created by fans rather than by the source’s copyright holders or creators.

Traditionally made by amateurs,  some of the more notable films have actually been produced by professional filmmakers as film school class projects or as demonstration reels.

Fan films vary tremendously in quality, as well as in length, from short faux-teaser trailers for non-existent motion pictures to full-length motion pictures.

Michigan has seen a number of higher quality fan films, some of which have achieved some notoriety and recognition.  “Revenge of the Mask,” directed by Lance Kawas and produced by Dylan Sides of Controlled Chaos Productions, and its accompanying “Rise of the Mask” released in 2019,  both based on the Dark Horse Comics character has broken unprecedented numbers of views for Michigan-made short films.

But there are others that have been made, while not drawing as large an audience, have done well nonetheless.   One such fan film, “Injustice for All, ” filmed in its entirety in Detroit, a perfect setting for the decrepit, rotting Gotham City,  has attained almost a six-digit viewership,  with over 1.25 thousand people expressing a positive thumbs up for this film.  This was a very dark, dramatic, horrifying, and comical film from start to finish, about of the Clown Prince of Crime himself, The Joker,

Written by Donavan Darius and Joseph Bryce Hart, director Danny Mooney demonstrated a complete understanding of the character.   The cast includes
Chris Newman as The Joker, Erika Hoveland as Harleen Quinzel, Donavan Darius as Lex Luthor, Jamie Bernadette as Catwoman, Julia Voth as Lois Lane, Danny Mooney as Jimmy Olsen, Claire Richards as Sarah Essen, Ekaterina Pylova as Dr. Crane, Colin Crenshaw as Young Joker, Justice Akuezue as Arkham Asylum Attendant, Steve Sholtes as Pizza Man, and Diamond as Isis.  Injustice for all was produced by White Hand Films / Deep Blue Pictures .

But it was Erika Hoveland’s portrayal of Harleen Quinzel that was the stand-out performance of this darker version of Romeo and Juliet.  This should come as no surprise as Erika is a classically trained Shakespearean actress with a deep and abiding love for the theater.   She was awarded Film Award Best Actress for this role at the Fan Film Awards (2017), a ceremony recognizing artistic filmmakers in the independent film community. Held in Los Angeles, CA, the FFA welcomes new and experienced fan-filmmakers to showcase their work to fans worldwide.

Erika Hoveland consented to talk about her background as an actress, her role in this fan film and her character as Harley Quinn.

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Anyway, we are going to talk about a character that you portrayed in a  fan flick that was released a couple of years ago, a particularly dark character.  But before we do,  let’s talk about your background and how you got into acting.

I hail from Western Canada (Alberta). I started acting in community groups at a very young age. I told everyone that I was either going to be a professional tennis player or an actress when I grew up ( I never learned how to play tennis) Although I started University in pre-med, my passion won out in the end and I graduated with a degree in theater. After graduating, I continued my acting studies at two separate acting programs on the west coast- one in Vancouver and then one on Gabriola Island.

Very pretty areas of North America.  What brings you to the states?

I was brought back to Alberta when cast as a core member of a musical dinner theater in Edmonton, called Celebrations Dinner Theater. I worked there for the better part of 61/2 years.

It is very beautiful. My husband and I moved here in 2003 when he helped Dominik Hasek bring his athletic apparel line to Michigan after the Red Wings had won the 2002 Stanley Cup,.

This business took me out of my acting for several years as I helped run the clothing company, Dominator Clothing.

Wow, that must have been exciting.  How did you get involved in acting here in Michigan?  What was your first role?

I slowly started attending local auditions for both theater and film. I am a lover of Shakespeare, so I got involved with the Royal Oak Shakespeare Theater. My first role with them was Sebastian in the Tempest in I believe 2011. Funny enough, I just finished their 2019 season, also The Tempest, but I got to play my dream role of Prospero.

On the film side, I have just slowly been building relationships with the local filmmakers, auditioning when a role is suitable.

There are many very talented local filmmakers that I have worked with. And many that I would love to work with in the future.  My husband (and my) company is a film production/financing company, so I have the opportunity to also work behind the camera

Which filmmakers have you worked with, and on what projects? What were some of your favorite roles?

Robert Butler- Love Immortal. Harley Wallen- Eternal Code, Snapshot, Ash and Bone. Nick Holland- An Intrusion. Joel Reisig- Mary’s Buttons. These are some of the local ones.

And you have had some roles beyond the state?

Also V. Prasad- “Consideration” and Danny Mooney- “Injustice For All.”

Where were these produced?  The last you named is of particular interest.  It is the fan flick we are talking about.

Out of state,  I had a small role in “Before I Wake,” (Alabama) which was also one of the films our company financed (Indiana). and “Proxy,” directed by Zack Parker Yes, “Injustice for All” is the fan film.

Watch the film below.

What was your character in this film?  And how were you approached to do this role?

I played Harleen Quinzel (Harlequin) and I was approached by Donavan Darius (Producer), someone I had worked with in the past, to play the role. I was a little skeptical at first because my typical casting is not usually the “Harlequin” type we all think of. But when Donavan described to me the angle they were taking, I had to play the part.

Yes, this was a particularly dark role.  What was the angle that Donavan described? How did you sell you on playing the character?

First off, the character was more defined by Harleen Quinzel, who was the psychiatrist in the comics who treated the Joker before she became “Harlequin”. She is a truly flawed character, in the love/obsession, she has for The Joker. Beautiful in a very dysfunctional way. I also LOVED the original origin story behind why the Joker looks the way that he does- because of the disease Harlequin Ichthyosis  A real disease.

Brilliant!

….not the disease. It is actually a heartbreaking disease to those who are affected. Incredibly painful. But this truth brings alight to the “sickness” of the Joker that allows a certain amount of compassion.  It helps you understand why he is so twisted. And why Harleen wants to protect him….at all cost.

Would this in the storyline explain Harley’s disfigurement?

Yes, she does it to herself so that “he doesn’t feel alone”….which is the ironic tragedy of the story, because, in the end, she is the one left alone, with the disfigurements.

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This was a remarkable make-up job which is readily apparent until you see her in bed.   This is not readily apparent. And this is because when we first see Harley she is in the shadow.  Who did the make-up?

The special effects make-up was headed by Paula Renee Matney, Keith Faychak and Krisz Drouillard.  It took approx. 4-41/2 hours to put on.

Remarkable. Have you ever portrayed a character so disfigured?

I ended up with a disfigurement at the end of “Roadkill: A Love Story” but not to this extent. Other than what it did to my skin LOL, I loved it. I love playing characters that give me the freedom to become whatever I want. Characters that allow me to escape into a completely different reality….. characters where you don’t see “Erika” when you watch them.

Understood.  So, you, in fact, didn’t mind the attention shown you In fact you enjoyed it as you could envision the character they were creating and the freedom it allowed you in character.

I’m not sure it’s so much enjoyed the attention shown me, as it was being able to completely transform into someone else.  And I was blessed to be able to work with the likes of Danny Mooney (Incredible director) Chris Newman (Joker) Jamie Burnadette (Catwoman) and Donavan Darius (Lex Luther) The crew that Danny brought on were amazing and what we accomplished in, I think it was three days?! I would work with anyone of these incredibly talented people again if I had the chance.

There was talk that they would reprise these roles in a sequel, wasn’t there?

Yes! There is actually a feature-length script for “Injustice for All”, written by Donavan Darius and Joseph Bryce Hart. It introduces many more of the comic book characters.

Cool! So we may have a chance to see more from their perspective, and, of course, you will be able to reprise your character.

That would be the hope.

You were recently recognized for your abilities and the contribution you have made to Michigan’s film industry.  You received an award for what exactly at the Spirit of Excellence awards.

Yes. It was on honor.  Best Actress Award.specifically for the role I played in “Love Immortal.”

Congratulations!  That is a very high honor.  Would you like to talk about what productions you are presently engaged in?

Sure. I just finished shooting “An Intrusion” in December where I co-starred with Dustin Prince and Angelina Cama. It features Scout Taylor-Compton ( Halloween, Nashville) and Keir Gilchrest (Atypical). Directed by Nick Holland and Produced by Sam Logan.

I have a short called  “The Stain” that I will be filming in February,  and I am in discussions with a number of other filmmakers regarding future projects in 2020.

Well, this gives us something to look forward to. 

To connect with Erika Hoveland on Facebook.
To view Erika’s film resume on IMDb, (she has 34 credited film roles).

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