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On Location with Shelley Hennig

Inside the Santa Clarita, California set of Unfriended

When it came to making Unfriended, the super-scary social media thriller hitting theaters this week, things were different from the very beginning.

“The audition process was part of the start of me realizing how unique this project was going to be,” says the film’s star (and former Miss Teen USA) Shelley Hennig. “It was at the casting office, and I Skyped with another actor in a room in the casting office, while the casting director, writer and director watched on a third computer. I knew right there that this was going to be something off the wall, and I just wanted to be a part of it.”

Hennig got her wish, and things didn’t get any more traditional. The actress and her costars filmed the movie—about a group of friends being terrorized over the web by what seems to be their late friend—using unique laptop cameras and not on a big set, but in a house in the Los Angeles suburb of Santa Clarita. 

Shelley Henning

Photo: Universal Pictures

“Each actor had her own bedroom decorated for her character,” Hennig explains of the progressive process. “And each of us had a laptop and a GoPro that was strategically placed on top of laptop and lit so that we were able to roam around. There were a million wires coming out of our laptops, but this system allowed any actor to film in real time on the computer while speaking to each other.” 

The system seems to have worked. Hennig recalls filming chunks of the film—up to 80-minute segments—in single takes and says that while the cast would unplug for lunches together, they really did end up doing some of their best work staring into their laptops. 

Shelley Henning

Photo: Universal Pictures

And while Hennig might have just finished spending time playing a woman whose computer was being used to terrorize her, the actress says she hasn’t shied away from technology in the least. 

“Most people are not going to go want to go on Skype for a while after seeing this movie, they’re not going to want to mess with their computers,” Hennig says. “But I actually learned a lot more about computers and how to use them properly. I got more in tune with technology after filming.”

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