If you look anywhere these days, you will see Clowns popping up all over the world, including in the recent news of Clowns luring kids into the woods of South Carolina. Is it all for fun or is there something deeper and sinister at play? Well, I blame it all on Stephen King’s highly successful book and 1990 film, IT. Was it the muse behind all of this madness or is there really something darker lurking in the shadows around us? With the recent craze of these terrorizing forces showing up all over the place, our deepest nightmares are becoming a reality. 2016 has really become the “Year of the Clown” in news and more importantly, film. We have had Eli Roth’s Clown, Rob Zombie’s 31, the IT Remake hitting theaters next year, and the newest haunting endeavor, Clowntown, that was inspired by clowns terrorizing the people of Bakersfield, CA in 2014. What makes these films so captivating is the keen element of independent film-making glazed with craftsmanship and in your face torment. Clowntown is another addition to this newfound craze and it’s nothing you should steer away from.
Today, I had the pleasure to interview that star of the film, Lauren Elise, who was quite excited about the release of this film. We briefly spoke about independent film-making, her role in Clowntown, the trials and tribulations of filming, and the upcoming projects she has in place over the next year.
Cinephellas (CP): Hello Lauren! How are you doing today?
Lauren Elise (LE): I’m doing well, thanks for asking!
(CP): First of all, how did you get involved with Clowntown?
(LE): I auditioned, the old fashioned way, and got the role.
(CP): Clowntown touches on the fear of psychotic clowns. Do you share the same fear? What was it like facing your fear in this film?
(LE): I do not because I was not raised with clowns around me, or I didn’t watch the movie I.T. However, with all the incidents going around today with Clowns hanging out at bus stops, I would be petrified. I would ask them “what are you doing, why are you here, why aren’t you talking, and are you a pedophile?” I would be completely freaked out, but if there is a clown at a kid’s party, they better make a cool dog out of balloons.
(CP): I saw in recent news that there has been a group of clowns luring kids into the South Carolina woods.
(LE): I know! What the fuck? I saw that as well and Clowntown is based off of clowns terrorizing Bakersfield, California in 2014 and its great publicity for this film. I was wondering why there wasn’t an advertisement for this film in the recent news. Hahaha
(CP): We have seen clowns portrayed in horror films for some time, why does Clowntown stick out compared to others of the genre?
(LE): It’s more focused on these characters and how their car breaks down in this town and these group of clowns that come into play. It’s the evil things of the human body compared to other films where they primarily focus on the clown itself. What is going to happen to these people and will they survive? The story is really well done and its character based. The clowns are sub-characters that show up half way through the film and it’s a matter of life and death with the main characters.
(CP): Was it difficult to shoot in this type of atmosphere with these men terrorizing you?
(LE): It was physically exhausting shooting this film, but I loved every second of it. It was freezing on set and I was really cold throughout the entire shoot. I had little shoes with no socks and my toes would instantly freeze. They had sleeping bags, hand warmers, and giant heaters on set to keep us all warm. The weather conditions were rough and we really only filmed at night. I didn’t see the sun for days because I would sleep all day and work throughout the night. On top of that, we were shooting a horror film and it was very real! I would be on set and literally be terrified of my surroundings while I was in the moment. It made my job very easy and it was a lot of physical and emotional work. This is what makes independent films so great, the more real an actor/actress can be, the better the film will be because you don’t have an entire studio behind you. You don’t have all of these CGI effects and it makes the film and experience rawer. It’s also what makes Clowntown so special because we shot it in over a month in Ohio with a very low budget. We got a lot of hate from critics and I want to ask them to make a better movie with this little amount of money and time. It’s extremely difficult to make an independent movie and I just don’t understand the backlash we have gotten thus far.
(CP): That’s why I hate professional movie “critics” because they nitpick every little flaw and just give the movie a bad rap because it’s not to their standards.
(LE): Exactly! It takes time, practice, and nothing is perfect. That’s why independent film making is such a great place to be because you can make mistakes, learn, experiment, and push your boundaries. I was very happy with the outcome of this movie and was blown away with the way it all turned out.
(CP): And that’s we love to do at Cinephellas, we like to watch and review independent films that a larger audience may not be aware of. We love the whole film-making process and the blood, sweat, and tears it takes to make a film with a shoe string budget.
(LE): Thank you! We really appreciate it!
(CP): As an actress, what is your process when going into a film, especially a horror film like this?
(LE): Comedy is improv based and the director tells you to go a certain direction. But with horror, I didn’t feel that was the approach I would go for. I sat with the director, Tom Nagel, multiple times and went through all the different scenes. I wanted to discover, listen, and get the overall vision of the movie and the character I was portraying. It was a lot of listening and asking questions. I didn’t want to play this little girl, but a very strong victim. I didn’t want to play a naive character that people didn’t care about. I wanted the audience to care about my character and to have an emotional attachment and rooting for me to not die. So how could I bring that across in my character in this film? I asked myself that question and I chose to make interesting choices. Brad and I are supposed to be boyfriend/girlfriend in the film and the way the script was originally written was to have him propose to me at the end of the film. That didn’t make sense to me to do that because of all the choices we made together in the group. So we escape from these group of psychotic clowns then Brad proposes to me at the end of movie? No, that’s cheesy and makes no sense. We decided to go a different route and keep it as real as possible. And maybe in Clowntown 2 something like that might happen. We do see an engagement ring in this film, but it’s really not talked about, so I was hoping people would ask “what happened to the ring?” That’s an interesting aspect of Clowntown that hopefully gets answered down the road.
(CP): Do you have any upcoming projects in the works that we should be on the lookout for?
(LE): This is my first horror movie, but I have a second horror film coming out called “The Praise” with Tom Sizemore. It’s super scary film about ghosts and the paranormal that has a lot of great actors. Then I have another action/thriller/drama film that we are shooting in New Orleans tomorrow called “Created Equal” that is directed by Bill Duke. One more project that I will share with you is a horror comedy that I am working on. I am a HUGE fan of the horror comedy genre and I loved the film, Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil. It was hilarious and brilliant and a movie I watch every Halloween. I am working on a film called “Attack of the Killer Doughnuts” and I am super proud of it! It’s done so well with a lot of CGI as you can imagine and it’s winning a lot of awards nationwide at film festivals. I would love for the audience to check it out and it’s not like Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, but it has the same style of horror and comedy mashed together. I couldn’t believe I was given the opportunity to be in the film and I am truly grateful!
Special thanks to Lauren Elise for taking the time to sit down with Cinephellas. We’re really excited about Clowntown as well as her upcoming projects! Clowntown hit theaters on September 30th and will be available on VOD/DVD on October 4th.