Friday, July 27, 2012


Donihue was born in rural Washington, raised blocks away from The Green River Killer, and grew up in Auburn, Washington. He started writing plays that were performed for 45 cents in his back yard and local parks when he was as young as seven. His first film was made when he was eleven, utilizing a rented video camera and two borrowed VCR's with stereo cables. His father was a pastor. His mother, Anita Corrine Donihue, was a special education teacher who later became a well known Christian Devotional author. Themes of spirituality have played a consistent part in his often volatile work.
By his mid teens, Donihue was writing feature length plays. During these years, Donihue began to work graveyard shifts at a local college radio station, KGRG-FM, as an overnight DJ. There, he became obsessed with experimental music and film, and directed a series of student films. These included Anthony's Appocalypse and Inside Anthony's World. WHen he was 18 he wrote Hold My Hand & Tell Me I'm Not Insane, a about a young playwright whose scripts follow his life, yet later dictates it. This was the first time I saw David's work. He looked like a floppy haired little emo boy up in the light booth. He was a known college DJ before this but I wasn't cool enough to know about KGRG at that age. I listened to The End. I saw the play in Seattle and it was wild. It was like my family and so many of my friends families and also this wierd paranormal plot. It starred a guy I saw in a lot of local theater and films being made in Seattle at the time, Michael White. Something stuck with me about that play.
When I was taking the bus down 2nd in Downtown Seattle I saw a HUGE marquee with the words "Hey Baby Do Ya Wanna Come Back To My Place and Justify My Existence" and his name on it! I couldn't believe it. I started seeing fliers and posters all over town. Occassionally we'd see him at shows, shooting some band or making out with a girl.
We all went down to see his play, where other spoken word performers opened each night. It was way more aggressive. He was 22 at this point and seemed happy and sweet when you'd seeing him at the theaters and around, but the material was dark and self-destructive. There was a memorable poster for one of these shows that had the tagline "Another desperate plea for help by David N. Donihue." The play was a comedy called - Brain Aches And The Quest For Redemption Of A Telephone Psychic.
The Seattle Times praised it as being "Inventive and hilarious" while Seattle Sidewalk called him a "Moral and Social Nuisance." Donihue continued to perform slam poetry and do short films and by the late nighties his work (and him) was a mainstay in the Seattle Arts Movement. He often screened with Rod Hatfield, John Dix at satalight parties, the Experience Music Project, Spaceboat and the infamous Eye Drop Studios. He did a lot of live visuals back then. I remember being at a show and seeing him pointing a camera into glasses of liquor and flicking his lighter and see ing this image projected live on screen and it looked just like a crazy psychadelic blob. Our circle of friends had determined that he had lost his mind but we also thought the visuals were really amazing. He made a film around then called "Love Me Tender, Pay Me Well" that I saw once on public access and several times at art parties but can't find for the life of me. He also made The Girls Of Bi-Polar Disorder which played a lot at the art parties. The scene was huge by late 90's in Seattle and Donihue, Dix, Hatfield, and Consolidated Works seemed to always be at the forefront of the scene. Donihue even had a really trippy band that would play at Conworks and Graceland a lot. He seemed prolific and unslept. He had a film studio in Queen Anne called Strange Mind Films which apparently survived off of Telephone Psychic Ads (ironic after doing the play). Mutual friends spoke of him as driven, focused and very loving to everyone. He was well respected.
In 2001 he made a full length film called The Humanity Experiment that packed the northwest film forum. It was sloppy and weird and powerful at times. It was never released that I know of but it was a really unique movie about how the dot com explosion was driving people further away from each other. He was working on it in the late nighties, before most were really touching the subject. This was what even those who hated his work had to admit. His work was interested in things that others had failed to spot. Things that a lot people relate to and never speak of. Around the time of his last Seattle play, Tom Scanlon of The Seattle Times was speaking of Seattle Theater's tendancy to go after easy audiences with Star Trek remakes and sitcom spin offs dominating the local stages. He spok of Donihue's Strange Mind Productions "it's nice to see a young troupe doing things heavier than TV Spin offs and reinventing Shakespeare." Donihue was also known for posting negative reviews on his fliers and posters, most notebly "A Nearly Unwatchable Mess" - The Stranger. We heard his play was packed after launching the subversive campaign. He seemed like he really didn't give a shit about what anyone thought. He just did his own thing. Just before leaving Seattle to pursue mainstream filmmaking, Donihue was cast in Matt Wilkin's highly acclaimed drama, Buffalo Bill's Defunct. Donihue played a troubled young man who finds himself amidst an evening of drinking and gutting a dear in a small American town. The American Avante Guard referred to the film as "Brilliant." He then moved to Los Angeles and began directing music videos. In 2005 he partnered with Rahul Dholakia to write and produced Parzania starring Naseeruddin Shah (Monsoon Wedding) and Raj Zuchi (Slumdog Millionaire). The film is considered by many accounts, to be one of the most controversial films in the eastern hemisphere. The English language thriller, based on the true story of the Gujarat Riots of 2002, was initially banned in India, caused a storm of protests and bomb threats, and later garnered praise from the New York Times, Variety, Indiewire and many others. It was shown in New York as part of the Museum of Modern Arts' India Now film exhibition. Donihue was nominated for Filmfare Awards for Best Screenplay and Best Story for Parzania. The film won the Screen Gem Award for Best Picture. In 2006, Donihue wrote and directed the 4 1/2 hour long "interactive Choose Your Own Adventure style" action comedy THE WEATHERED UNDERGROUND with Michael Ciriaco and Brea Grant (Daphne on NBC’s Heroes).
The film was released nationwide by Indican on April 6th, 2010 and is now available at all major retailers (Bestbuy, Narnes and Noble, Target, Blockbuster, Netflix). Reviews were polarized from audiences and critics alike, many trouting it as the future of cinema. Others discounting it as a complete gimmick.
However, this was the film that got Donihue the underground recognition he had deserved all along. The film is still shown as a party favorite on campuses and underground parties through out the country. Those who defended the film, defended it passionatly. "The Weathered Underground works, baby - like OK Computer meets Charles Buckowski and Grand Theft Auto... HR Giger is calling, he wants his subconscious back... Graphics hiss off the screen. Each scene has a glossy, dangerous, memorable look, as if darkly surreal album art has come to life and is looking to you for direction..." - East Portland Blog You can actually see a sample of this inventive interactive story telling and choose what happens next in the trailer (which did over a million views combined upon the films release). He was quickly picked up by a major management company and his efforts were documented well throughout international film industry rags. MovieMaker Magazine ran a fantastic article featuring Donihue's production journal from the making of the film.
Donihue has a new film entitled THE BANG BANG BROKERS near completion. A strange pairing of Donihue's hipster indie rocker background and former O'town boy bander Erik Michael Estrada. In the video on top is a sneak peak I got permission to use of 2 scenes from Donihue's newest effort. Rumors have it Donihue is currently finishing work on a play entitled A BOY & HIS BRAIN and that A-list producers are working to put together a film of it. I could only imagine what will happen when the mainstream becomes aware of what a small group of us have known for years. He's a genius.

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