Clowning Around

Late nights, early starts and exposing our arses on film. We were back working on Clownface.

We’ve been away at horror conventions/literary events every weekend since 23rd September, so haven’t had much time to blog. And we also returned to Clownface for two days.

Clownface

us with Clownface aka Phil

Unfortunately, a lot of crew and extras dropped out last minute, so the crew consisted of the director of photography, Ben, his assistant, Rich, the sound guy, Barrie and us. And yet, it was the smoothest shoot yet. We arrived at 1:30 p.m. on the Thursday, ready to dress the set for a party scene. Unfortunately, as the fairy lights kept getting moved around, nobody knew exactly where they were supposed to be and nobody had taken continuity photos. (That was one of our jobs on the August block but we couldn’t make it to the block at the beginning of October.) We used footage from the film to guess the location and exact angle of hanging and we think we got it right. We also spread sequins everywhere, hung silver shredding from light fixtures and lamps and covered a table with empty bottles and cups. For people who have never been to a house party, so got our ideas from TV, we think we did ok.

We reprised our role of second assistant camera (operating the clapperboard) and also our least favourite role of guarding the floodlight. This time, it was out in a dark country lane. Standing a goth in a dark lane was never going to be a good idea, but luckily Rich had a high-vis jacket so Lynx wouldn’t be run down by passing motorists. Our mum’s Mini, Mickey, was parked outside the cottage’s front door so is on screen for most of the exterior shots. He didn’t complain about the length of shooting time, and didn’t once demand makeup. He was a true star. The lead actresses, Hannah and Abi kept everyone entertained between shots by doing a brilliant rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody in the back of the car.

Clownface

guarding the light

Then we had our first experience in front of the camera – as extras in a party scene. So as Cat was operating the clapperboard, she had to wait outside, shivering in her finery, work the clapperboard then run in and take her place as an extra. Then the director, Alex, asked for volunteers to do stunts. Naturally, we volunteered, as did a couple of extras. The producer, Mark, chose us because we do gymnastics and as Mark put it, we’re great at falling over. You only have to watch our Calamityville episodes to know we’re well practised in the art of tripping. The scene involved party goers fleeing the house and we’re so drunk, we trip, landing on a crash mat. Abi then helps us up and half carries us out of shot. Alex wondered if they should get Phil (who plays Clownface) to teach us how to fall, as he’s a stunt guy. Mark assured him we knew what we were doing. We did it perfectly. Apparently, it looked very realistic. There was one problem:

Short dresses and fishnet tights.

Yes, the rest of extras ran out to exposed arse cheeks and lacy unmentionables, take after take. It’s a good job we’ve been keeping up with our squats. Then the scene had to be shot from behind. We tried to argue that it was unnecessary, but we were outvoted. This time, our arses would be immortalised on camera. Even worse, was when they shot a close up. Fortunately, we started off lying on the mat, so Abi kindly adjusted our dresses to make sure there was one shot where our dignity wasn’t sprawled onto the gravel next to us. Luckily, we only got minor injuries – Cat consistently landed on her pre-injured scaphoid bone (she kept falling over in woods and landing on it. Proof we were perfect for this role) and Lynx took the skin off her elbow in the same place every time and finished the shoot wearing a Paw Patrol plaster. But it shows our falls were identical in every take. You usually have pay a lot of money for that kind of professionalism.

Clownface

Cat with her sound equipment

The next scene was shot outside, so Lynx was again on light-guarding duty, operating a large LED light. It was freezing, so between takes, we wrapped the actress, Leah, in our coats so she wouldn’t get too cold. Clownface kept us entertained by doing impressions of Mark Hamill as The Joker. As we were working through the night, lunchtime was 11 p.m. As there were no runners, we had to fulfill that role so spent our breaks doing all the washing up and constantly sweeping up all the grass that got tracked in from outside. With about 16 people on site, there was a lot of washing up.

We were extras again in the next party scene. Mark asked us what we usually do at gatherings. Our answer of ‘sit in the corner with the home owners’ pet’ wasn’t helpful. There were no pets. Instead, we stand in the doorway, blocking it, then walk in front of the camera. Alex wanted us on screen quite a bit. So not only did we get to work on our first horror film, we got to be in it too. And we feel it adds a bit of realism to it. All the actresses are stunning so the film needed some regular looking people to balance it out.

We finally finished filming at 5:30 a.m. and set up our airbeds on the living room floor among the camera equipment and cases. All the beds were taken. We had a good five hours’ sleep and were up at 11, cleaning the cottages with Mark and doing yet more washing up before everyone else got up. Lynx made a trip to the co-op to buy more Red Bull then we started preparing for filming. We covered windows in tin foil, as the scenes were meant to take place at night then we got to stand in for Hannah and Clownface, by Cat chasing Lynx up the stairs, so Ben could get the lighting and camera angle right. That was a fun piece of unexpected exercise. Again, we spent our time between scenes washing up.

Most of the shooting took place inside, which was nice and warm. Although the small bedroom provided some filming problems. The scene there between Hannah and Clownface was incredible. It was so realistic. Hannah is an fantastic actress and it really showed in this scene.

Clownface

Lynx in her high vis vest

The sound guy had to leave at 7:30 p.m. which meant we had to take over sound. He gave us a crash course but had to leave before supervising us. We panicked and didn’t want to do it, but we had no choice. There were no other crew members. It turned out to be easier than we feared – like the clapperboard was. The final shots were outside. It was freezing! As Lynx was put on light guarding duty in the middle of the lane again and Cat was on sound, there was no-one to operate the clapperboard. In the end, we roped actress Leah into using it and Cat taught her how to do it. We were glad our mum insisted we take our big coats, even though there wasn’t room in the car.

We wrapped at 11:45 p.m. and helped Ben and Mark load their equipment into their cars. We cleaned one of the cottages and did the last load of washing up before heading to bed. We had to be up at 6:30 a.m. for Birmingham Horror Con and managed to clean the other cottage before we left. We had to make a quick stop to buy Red Bull as ours had vanished. We got to the horror con at 8:20 a.m. The security guard said “you’re a bit late aren’t you?” Us ” we had to buy Red Bull.” Yes, that is more important. Never mind Clownface killing people in gruesome way, us without our morning Red Bull is true horror. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

If you want to hear us recount our adventures and talk about all things horror, don’t forget to tune into our radio show, The Graveyard Shift, every Friday 7-9 p.m. on Vitalize Radio.Clownface

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