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Meet Samantha McDanel

Today we’d like to introduce you to Samantha McDanel.

Samantha, before we jump into specific questions about your work, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Growing up, I always watched movies with my family. Going to pick out movies to rent or buy on a Friday night was a treat. I went to a small-town high school, so there was no video production program. I spent much of my time in theatre and I thought I might want to be an actress.

When I went to college to study film, I started getting on as many sets as possible as a makeup artist, just so I could observe and learn, while also keeping my creative passion for makeup and SFX makeup alive. Since then, I’ve been apart of so many sets that I’ve lost count. I realized how much I loved directing and creating stories while in school, how much I actually loved all aspects that went into filmmaking: the storytelling, directing, cinematography, lighting.

Now, I just want to continue being apart of this collaborative field and I continue working on my own and other’s projects. Currently, I am producing and directing my next short film Veil, set to shoot in March 2020. I’m excited to share more projects!

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I think an obstacle for myself was that I always felt “behind” and like I needed to catch up to my peers. It seemed so many had cameras and were able to begin honing their craft early on. This helped me to accelerate my skills and push to learn and practice as much as I could. “Imposter Syndrome” is very real. I still get these feelings, as I believe all of us do in creative fields, but I make sure to use these feelings to motivate me more.

There are so many other obstacles that I’ve had to push through, and many more that I will push through in the future, as a young woman wanting to be a director in the film industry. This is something to be realistic about and I keep that in mind and make sure that my stories are still different and worth listening to.

We’d love to hear more about your work.
I am a filmmaker. I give myself a title of “Filmmaker” because I feel it embodies both the creative and technical skills that I hold and roles that I have held. This includes many projects where I am the creative writer, director, cinematographer, and editor, as well as the technical producer, production manager, equipment manager, videographer, gaffer and, again, editor. I feel that using both my technical and creative knowledge, I offer great value to every project that I am apart of.

I am also a Makeup Artist. My makeup skills are suitable for all kinds of occasions: special events, weddings, film, commercial, fashion, Halloween, photography, etc. This skill has helped me to become more attentive to small details. I’ve learned about color theory through learning about makeup, which in turn helps me as a filmmaker when makeup, skin tone, and lights all come into play.

The saying goes: “A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.” I have adaptable skills that make me well-rounded as a filmmaker.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I look fondly on the memories of working with so many creative and talented teams. With strong collaboration and pulling resources together, you can make something really amazing. I also am grateful for my previous short film, Pageant Perfect, as it has reached so many people at 15 different festivals and I’ve gotten to meet film enthusiasts and other filmmakers like myself. I want to continue working and collaborating with others, meeting people in this industry, and working on films.


  • Makeup- $75+ per person
  • Videography- $200+ flat rate
  • Editing- $250+ flat rate

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Portraits of Samantha McDanel captured by Kaitlyn Kilpatrick

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