New Interviews – SON OF CLOWNS Cast & Crew

It’s been a while. And so much has gone down since we last blogged!

We’ve completed an international film festival run ending things off at NC’s own marvelous Cucalorus Film Festival. We’ve released the full film to the world via Amazon Prime. We’re now sharing almost an hour or behind the scenes material with you in the videos below. These intimate interviews with our cast and crew shed light on the passion and triumph that went into making this microbudget independent feature film.

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One Year with Son of Clowns

It’s our first anniversary! As I sit here typing those words it feels quite surreal. I wanted to write this post not to talk about the ways to make an indie feature (I’ve written several of those | if you’re interested) but more about what it feels like to take that leap and the benefits of doing so.

However it’s a celebration.

June 14th, 2015 started like many other days. My alarm went off, I went downstairs for a cup of coffee, I read some emails. But I did those tasks in all of three minutes, then I was out the door speeding off towards the first day of the rest of my life as a first time feature filmmaker. The resulting experience was a whirlwind, and before I knew it a little over two weeks (containing only 10 production days) later it was over. Wow.

Literal whirlwind that was the first day of production.

                                                              Literal whirlwind. June 14, 2015.

It’s a funny thing making your first feature film. At least in the independent microbudget fashion in which we made Son of Clowns. There is really no guidebook, you wing it and hope it works. Well… “wing it” with about 50 hours of pre-production. Still. It’s on you to create your film. There is no studio holding your hand, no checks to cash, no budgets to balance. Just that story and you. It’s the most freeing and terrifying experience I’ve ever had. And I yearn to do it again soon.

I say that word because I truly feel that one year later as it stands this film has transformed me beyond being just a filmmaker. It’s required more dedication that anything I’ve ever done before it and thats as it should be. Encompassing all that goes into the craft of filmmaking while pulling and learning for just about every other art form and profession imaginable. Oh the things they don’t teach you in film school.

I implore everyone out there who has even had the smallest inkling about making a film to do so. I encourage you even more so if that film is a feature. Because in deciding to do so you will be challenged as an artist. You have to get creative. Your story will demand you to prove your worth towards it. And an environment where you are challenged is one where you shall grow. Not only as a filmmaker but as a storyteller and artist.

I created the video below today about this very topic to allow myself to reflect in a more personal manner. No fancy Youtube cuts. Just me, a camera, & a few lessons I’ve picked up along the way.

Making a feature film is part improvisation & part planning at an obsessive compulsive level. And it’s that ying/yang relationship that will bind your piece and all of the folks who you’ve brought together to tell your respective story. Thank them, honor them, and treat them right. They are your backbone. I know with Son of Clowns at the end of the first day I had a new family. People who I could call on for future projects, or just simply hang out with. When you work on something like this (during one of NC’s hottest summers) it will test you, and you’ll have to want it. You want to tell a story that in our case is distinctively North Carolinian. You make a choice to go into the battle of production so to speak with your fellow cast/crew acting as your soliders. And maybe… Just maybe you’ll pull off making a feature film.

But first you’ll have to try. And I’m really damn glad I did.

 

– Evan Kidd

PS: Stay tuned with us in the coming weeks for more updates! Including news on future screenings, film festivals and even our VOD release!

Spotlight on the Circus Actors

Hudson Cash is the son of clowns. Played by Adam Ferguson, Hudson is a struggling actor whose return home sets in motion the drama at the center of the film. Yet the son of clowns isn’t the only character with a significant role in Son of Clowns. The clowns themselves, along with their circus companions, make for quirky characters viewers won’t forget.

Eric Hartley (Dad) and Adam Ferguson (Hudson) during an emotional scene.

Eric Hartley (Dad) and Adam Ferguson (Hudson) during an emotional scene.

Eric Hartley (Dad) is a former Marine who grew up in Pierce City, Missouri. His acting career didn’t begin until 2012, when his daughter auditioned for Miracle on 34th Street and asked him to audition with her. Both daughter and father got parts and performed in 11 shows together that Christmas season. Since then, Eric has acted in two television series and was a crew member on Evan Kidd’s short film “Displacement Welcomed.”

April Vickery (Mom) was also part of “Displacement Welcomed.” She played a principal supporting role as a homeless woman with a troubled past, and her performance earned her the “Best Supporting Actress” award at the 2015 Eastern North Carolina Film Festival. A multitalented artist, April began acting at 14 and has also pursued music and dance. In addition, she recently finished writing her first feature-length screenplay.

Eric and April have been together for about five years and plan to get married in October. Sharing a love for all things Harry Potter, the two got engaged on April’s birthday last year at Universal Studios’ Hogwarts Castle. “As individuals and as a couple, Eric and April are simply awesome,” says director Evan Kidd, “April has great range, and Eric can do comedy, drama, anything. And off set, they will do anything to help out.”

Adam Ferguson (Hudson) and April Vickery (Mom) laugh between takes.

Adam Ferguson (Hudson) and April Vickery (Mom) laugh between takes.

In addition to the clowns, Cash Entertainment stars the strongman Angus, played by Rob Kellum. Professional wrestling fans across the country know Rob as The Stro (short for The Maestro of Wrestling) or “Papa” Stro. The grandnephew of Hall of Famer Gorgeous George, Rob began his professional wrestling career in 1990 and has gone by multiple names, including Gorgeous George III. He has wrestled for several organizations during his wrestling career, including the WCW, and he faced Sting on August 14, 1993. The Stro is currently the UPWA Heavyweight Champion and defends his title in Wilmington on March 26. “He may be a tough guy in the ring, but, in person, Rob is the nicest guy you could meet and was a delight to have on set,” recalls producer Bradley Bethel.

Rob Kellum (Angus) entertains some children and their parents during a circus party scene.

Rob Kellum (Angus) entertains some children and their parents during a circus party scene.

Cash Entertainment’s DJ is Hudson’s brother, Jabari, played by Darryl Postley Jr. “When Darryl auditioned, I knew right away he would be great for the role, and he ended up being amazing,” says Kidd. Darryl hadn’t acted in three years before auditioning for Son of Clowns, but he says the role of Jabari was the perfect opportunity to get back into acting. Jabari is an aspiring rapper, and Darryl himself is one part of the rap duo Coma Goat. Darryl’s favorite scene in Son of Clowns involves painting a picture for Jabari’s album cover, but he says you’ll have to see the film yourself to find out what makes that scene so great.

A circus wouldn’t be a circus without acrobats. Cash Entertainment’s acrobats are Hudson’s sister Claire, played by Kirsti Leighton, and her partner Sara, played by Nikko Smith. Kirsti graduated from Slippery Rock University with a degree in Dance, and Nikko is currently studying acting at Coastal Carolina University. In their roles as acrobats, Kirsti and Nikko were part of the film’s most challenging scene, a stunt involving Angus and a swing set. “We couldn’t have gotten that scene right if the actors hadn’t been committed, but they were great, and we pulled it off with grit and style,” recalls Kidd.

From left to right: Nikko Smith (Sara), Darryl Postley Jr. (Jabari), and Kirsti Leighton (Claire) have fun during the circus party scene.

From left to right: Nikko Smith (Sara), Darryl Postley Jr. (Jabari), and Kirsti Leighton (Claire) have some fun during the circus party scene.

Real-life magician Shaun Jay also contributed to the film’s big circus party scene. Shaun has been performing magic in the Triangle area for nearly decade, and he dazzled the cast and crew with his tricks, adding spectacle to one of the film’s biggest scenes.

Although a minor part, the role of Cash Entertainment’s behind-the-scenes assistant, Tony, is nonetheless memorable. The actor behind Tony is Jackson Honeycutt, a young musician and multitalented entertainer whose comedic timing, everyone on set agreed, is brilliant. Last year, Jackson’s music video for “Sweetheart I’ve Noticed” (directed by Evan Kidd) earned him a Carolina Music Award, and two of his songs are featured on the Son of Clowns soundtrack.

SON OF CLOWNS JACKSON HONEYCUTT HAPPY IN BALLOONS

Singer-songwriter Jackson Honeycutt having fun in the role of circus assistant Tony.

“The chemistry among this group of actors makes you believe they are really a family,” says producer Bradley Bethel. With a big smile on his face, Kidd echoes that sentiment: “We had so much fun together. This cast is so rad, and they connected so well. I think we all feel like we gained another family through this experience, and I definitely hope to work with all of them again.”

The SON OF CLOWNS family.

The SON OF CLOWNS family after a long day on set.

The world premiere of SON OF CLOWNS will be April 3 at The Cary in Cary, NC. You can purchase tickets here.

April Chats With Evan. “but who spotlights YOU?”

As many of you know, Mr. Evan Kidd and the SON OF CLOWNS team has been spotlighting the talent that brought SOC to life. 

I asked Evan, “but who spotlights YOU?” and ta-da; my take over was complete! 

So, I asked Evan a few questions and as usual he was nice enough to take the time to give me some answers.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, children of all ages, he walks, he talks, he writes and directs feature films: I give you– MR. EVAN KIDD!! 

SON OF CLOWNS APRIL VICKERY AND ERIC HARTLEY CIRCUS

April on set with her onscreen AND real life to be husband Eric Hartley.

April: Tell us about SOC: how long have you been working on the script? What inspired the story?

Evan: Son of Clowns tells the story of Hudson Cash. A mildly famous but ultimately unrecognizable actor who’s TV show was just cancelled. Among the chaos he moves back to North Carolina from Los Angeles to live with mom & dad. Who just so happen to run a backyard circus.

I started the writing the script right after I graduated from film school at East Carolina University in 2014 as something to write while I was on the festival circuit with my short “Displacement Welcomed” and working as a PA on several reality shows for work. Eight months later I had a feature film. The story came from a variety of places some real and some fictional. However this is by far the most personal script I’ve written and while I don’t actually have a circus family it’s more of a metaphor for what life can throw at you and how one chooses to wade those waters.

A: Tell us about the cast: Who plays your lead and what was it about him that really made you believe he was the right Hudson?

E: Our leading role of Hudson Cash is played by none other than Adam Ferguson. It’s a complex role, so I knew it would be a challenge to find the right guy. It really sounds corny but it was right at the audition that I knew. Several others had auditioned for the role and many people showed me a lot of compelling sides to the character. However when Adam’s interpretation came on I knew. Hudson needed to be someone who was shy yet very opinionated when he sees the chance. Someone who is confident in his talents but uncomfortable with his surroundings. Adam did this well with little direction from me beforehand. So naturally the gears in my head started spinning. Thinking what we could do when I could truly direct with him. And the rest his history as they say!

A: How long did it take to film SOC?

E: Believe it or not we shot the film in ten days. It was a grueling schedule that many folks often asked “are you looking to punish yourself?!”. But we pressed on due to having such an ensemble cast and finding these magical ten days where everyone was available. Multiple 15 hour days in a row were common but what helped us make it was that we were a second family. Multiple people said this to me on set. People didn’t want to stop hanging out. And I loved that atmosphere. It’s truly conducive to creating something.

A: What was your favorite moment during filming?

E: All of it?

Honestly if I had to pick one I would say there’s a scene about halfway through the movie where Hudson and his girlfriend Ellie have their first serious conversation as a couple. Every couple eventually has this occur. It’s the sink or swim moment and both Adam Ferguson who plays Hudson and Anne-Marie Kennedy, playing Ellie, knocked this scene out of the park. It’s set beside a beautiful river that just complimented the dialogue and you could honestly hear a pin drop due to this location. They can tell you I was practically dancing around after every take because the scene felt so real and lived in. I love a good character study like that.

Not to mention we shot that scene on one of the hottest days in June, there was actually a heat advisory. But we all forgot about the weather due to the performance. That’s what you want every day of the week as a director.

SON OF CLOWNS KITCHEN ILM APRIL VICKERY ADAM FERGUSON

Adam Ferguson on set with April.

A: Are there any particular festivals that you’re really hoping to be a part of?

E: We’ll have news on that soon! And yes… tons. Ideally we want to play every festival out there and just share our story with as many audiences that will listen. We actually just got word we will screen on April 30th at the 2016 Eastern NC Film Festival in Winterville, NC. A great festival which I’ve played previously with my last short “Displacement Welcomed”! (Which you know all about April!)

April laughs.

To me it’s personal and we all feel it’s something worth telling. At the end of the day I want this to be something North Carolina can be proud of. Since we shot here locally, ideally any NC Film Festivals, and then many others beyond our great state. Far too many cool ones out there for me to name!

A: Did you have any apprehension about making a feature or did you jump right in?

E: Up until the pieces started to come together. Once those dominos fell so to speak, there was no going back and all that went away. And jumping in made the most sense to me. You look at it as this daunting task (which it is) but if you just lean in and say “we’re telling this story no matter what” you see that you have to do just that. You look around on set and there are people there. Real people. Counting on you to make this thing. So to me a feature is just a long short. Go out with the vision to tell your story (big or small) and you’ll be amazed how far you go.

A: Are you working on any projects currently that we should keep a look out for?

E: It feels weird to be picture locked with Son of Clowns. I suppose I should take a vacation or something. But honestly I am working on a feature length documentary that I can’t stay away from. It’s something very exciting I’ve been secretly shooting for the last three years on the back burner. It’s still a ways away but lookout for it. I am also starting work on the screenplay for my second feature. Hardly anything is on the page yet but now I know I’ve done it before at the very least!

SON OF CLOWNS Evan Kidd Directing Doro Niang April Vickery

Evan working with April on set.

 Thank you, Evan for giving me and everyone on the crew of SOC the opportunity to make this story come to life. I can’t wait to share it with others.

You can keep up with April on Twitter @iadc437 & on IMDb.

You can keep up with Evan on Facebook, Twitter @MrEvanKidd, & on IMDb.

SON OF CLOWNS is a feature film by Raleigh native Evan Kidd. Check out our IndieGoGo campaign, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and return to sonofclowns.com often to read future blog entires about the film and the cast and crew who made it.

Spotlight on Actress Anne-Marie Kennedy (Ellie)

On the first day of production for Son of Clowns, actress Anne-Marie Kennedy (Ellie) cried four times. She didn’t cry out of frustration or because the director was a jerk. She cried four times because a scene required it. Anne-Marie’s performance was so moving each time that the crew was silently crying with her.

Evan Kidd Director SON OF CLOWNS Anne Marie Kennedy Actress

Director Evan Kidd reviews his notes with actress Anne-Marie Kennedy before one of the film’s most dramatic scenes.

Anne-Marie grew up in Raleigh and was part of a women’s chamber choir in high school. She began acting when her choir director encouraged her to audition for a part in the musical Annie. After one audition, Anne-Marie knew she had found her passion, and she decided to pursue acting in college. She was accepted into the Professional Actor Training program at East Carolina University and went on to win the Outstanding Senior Award, presented by the School of Theatre and Dance, before she graduated in 2015.

Although her love of acting began on the stage, Anne-Marie is now equally passionate about acting for film. Her internal process of preparing her characters is similar for both the stage and film, but, externally, the process is very different. “Whereas stage requires the whole body, film is primarily focused on the face and the vast range of emotions that can be revealed in the smallest expression,” Anne-Marie explains, “One is hyperreality; the other is the essence of real life.”

Director Evan Kidd recalls discussions with her about how she used the Meisner Technique to prepare for her role as Ellie. The Meisner Technique allows an actor to respond authentically to the other actors and to the environment. Kidd says Anne-Marie’s approach made her a delight on set: “Anne-Marie was so technically proficient, and yet she was also able to change up the lines or improv when I thought we needed to. Her combination of talents made my job easy.”

SON OF CLOWNS WHOLE LOCATION CAST CREW

Son of Clowns was Anne-Marie’s first feature film, and she hopes to continue finding similar opportunities to make meaningful art. “No other feeling can compare to having an illuminating moment on set or a character breakthrough,” she says, “My hope is to stay involved with the writers out there who are looking to tell these kinds of stories that make people see what true art is really about.”

Anne-Marie now lives in Atlanta, but she would happily come back to North Carolina to work with Kidd and the rest of the Son of Clowns cast and crew again.  In the meantime, she is excited to return home for the premiere on a date soon to be announced! 

You can keep up with Anne-Marie on IMDb.

SON OF CLOWNS is a feature film by Raleigh native Evan Kidd. Check out our IndieGoGo campaign, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and return to sonofclowns.com often to read future blog entries about the film and the cast and crew who made it.

Spotlight on Actor Paul Kilpatrick (Jonah)

After driving all the way from L.A., Hudson arrives in North Carolina, and the first person he connects with is his old friend Jonah.

“Not all my friends can boast a network TV show,” he tells Hudson between sips of beer in his backyard, “Around here you’re a damn unicorn, dude.”

SonOfClownsFeatureFilmBehindTheScenesAdamFergusonEvanKiddCarrboroBackyard1

Actors Adam Ferguson (Hudson Cash) and Paul Kilpatrick (Jonah) listen to instructions from director Evan Kidd while crew prepares in the background.

Though not a leading character, Jonah is nonetheless one of the most memorable from Son of Clowns. His loyalty to Hudson is immediately apparent and remains throughout the film, and his jocular personality provides laughs in all his scenes.

The man behind Jonah, Paul Kilpatrick, is just as funny, and his perpetual improvisation kept the cast and crew laughing throughout production.

Kilpatrick was born in San Antonio but lived all over the US because his father was in the military. Before Kilpatrick could even walk, he played Baby Jesus in a church nativity play, and he has been acting ever since.

Now calling the Triangle home, Kilpatrick was attracted to Son of Clowns because of its local roots. He recently explained, “I was excited about Son of Clowns because it is so clearly a local story. It is about an NC man coming home, directed by an NC director, and made by NC people. I love being part of a community that encourages its members to create.”

One of Kilpatrick’s favorite aspects of filmmaking is the sense of community that develops among a film’s cast and crew. He recalls a particular production day when he felt that sense of community on Son of Clowns:

One night, late, we were filming in a bar whose AC was busted. Everyone was dripping with sweat, and there were fans going, but they had to be shut off when we were rolling. In that moment—and since—I have been struck by how it embodied making art in North Carolina. You are going to end up sweating your face off in a sticky humid haze. You will mop sweat after each take. It would be easy for someone to just get fed up, be curt, let their annoyance seep out, but being together, making something, and finding things to enjoy are more important.

Producer Bradley Bethel describes Kilpatrick as being as thoughtful as he is funny. “One day Paul showed up to set with a big cooler full of ice cream sandwiches for everyone. No one asked him to do that. He’s just the kind of guy who thinks about other people and wants everyone to be happy,” Bethel says.

Son of Clowns is Kilpatrick’s first feature film, and he hopes it will open opportunities for more film acting. “Paul is incredibly talented and a comedic gem soon to be discovered,” says writer/director Evan Kidd, “Audiences are undoubtedly going to love Paul.”

SON OF CLOWNS PAUL KILPATRICK ADAM FERGUSON BAR SCENE

Kilpatrick and Ferguson rehearse their lines for a scene filmed at Nighlight Bar & Club in Chapel Hill.

You can keep up with Paul on IMDb.

SON OF CLOWNS is a feature film by Raleigh native Evan Kidd. Check out our IndieGoGo campaign, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and return to sonofclowns.com often to read future blog entries about the film and the cast and crew who made it.

Spotlight on Actor Adam Ferguson (Hudson Cash)

“I’m an avid believer in overcoming our weaknesses and addictions, as I’ve done in my own past,” says Adam Ferguson, the lead actor in Evan Kidd’s Son of Clowns.

Ferguson grew up in North Carolina and is a former member of the Raleigh-based rock band Alesana. After four years of recording and touring with the band, he realized he needed to pursue other interests. A multitalented artist, Ferguson continues to play music on his own, and three years ago he began acting after a friend urged him to audition for a part in a film. “Ever since that first audition,” Ferguson reflects, “I’ve been in love with acting.”

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Adam Ferguson as lead Hudson Cash in Son of Clowns.

In addition to being impressed by writer and director Evan Kidd’s previous work, Ferguson was drawn to Son of Clowns by how much he could relate to the main character, Hudson Cash. Throughout the film, Hudson struggles to find his place back home, a struggle familiar to Ferguson. Furthermore, both Ferguson and his character are introspective and observant, and both care deeply about their art. “Adam embodied Hudson so well that in one scene when Hudson explains his philosophy of acting and art, I couldn’t tell whether Adam was sticking to the script or improvising based on his own beliefs,” producer Bradley Bethel recalls.

For Ferguson, the roles he chooses have to matter. “Just really being able to move others is what I would like to see out of this film,” he says about Son of Clowns. Writer and director Evan Kidd believes Ferguson’s performance will indeed move audiences. “Before filming, Adam and I would talk about deep character choices, and where some of these scenes needed to come from, on a personal level,” Kidd recalls, “He was totally committed to making Hudson Cash a real person, and the range of emotions he displayed was astounding.”

When asked about the experience on the set of Son of Clowns, Ferguson smiles. “We had an awesome cast and crew,” he exclaims, “And we laughed a lot. I’ll never forget the time we were filming at about 2 AM, and our director of photography started laughing so hysterically, over the stupidest thing, and then we all started laughing with him and had to take a break because we just couldn’t stop.”

SON OF CLOWNS Adam Ferguson Eric Hartley

Actors Adam Ferguson (Hudson Cash) and Eric Hartley (Dad) rehearse for a scene filmed at the ECU Student Health Services building.

After playing the lead role in Son of Clowns, Ferguson intends to continue acting and to work behind the camera as well. He is a co-founder of LakeSide Media and hopes to direct and produce some of his own short films this year. In the meantime, he is looking forward to seeing Son of Clowns on the big screen at festivals and in theaters throughout North Carolina.

You can keep up with Adam on Twitter @AdamLeaf & on IMDb.

SON OF CLOWNS is a feature film by Raleigh native Evan Kidd. Check out our IndieGoGo campaign, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and return to sonofclowns.com often to read future blog entires about the film and the cast and crew who made it.