By GLENN TOLLE
Last October I had the pleasure of attending THE UPSTATE NEW YORK HORROR FILM FESTIVAL with my friend and fellow reviewer Josh Blodgett. We meet some wonderfully talented people at the festival, including Joseph Kelly who, with Robert Wichman, puts on the film fest, the only such festival in Rochester NY. Joe is an accomplished writer, director and actor who has previously written, directed and starred in bloody indie horrors COMMUNITY SERVICE THE MOVIE (2012), BLOODY ISLAND (2016) and the short CLOWN MOTEL that spawned his most recent feature film of the same name (2016). CLOWN MOTEL is currently being funded on KICKSTARTER with long time film collaborator and co-festival curator Robert Wichman returning in the role of executive producer.
I reached out to Joe for some words on CLOWN MOTEL. This is what he had to say:
How did you come up with the idea for CLOWN MOTEL and the short of the same name that preceded it?
I came across the idea of CLOWN MOTEL while traveling across the country. I just finished my second feature and I’m always on the lookout for new ideas. I stumbled upon the [actual] CLOWN MOTEL, stayed a few nights, learned the town’s past and the rest is history.
How did you manage to get Friday the 13th’s Ari Lehman and Halloween’s Tony Moran involved?
I got Ari attached by reaching out to one of my friends who just filmed a movie with him, CAMP KILLER, and just touched base via Facebook. Tony, on the other hand, I met at FRIGHT NIGHT in Kentucky a few years back and then again at DAYS OF THE DEAD. We switched contact information. Getting the first Jason Voorhees attached, I needed to get the first Michael Myers attached also, right?
How about Jeffrey Reddick?
I met Jeffrey through a mutual friend. We sat over some coffee at STARBUCKS in Hollywood for a few hours and talked ideas. I just had to bring up the CLOWN MOTEL to Jeffrey. Having a solid draft done, Jeffrey agreed to go through the script a few times and put his touch on this crazy clown story and that he did. Some nice elements were definitely added to give CLOWN MOTEL that extra dimension.
What can you tell me about Elinor Price’s role in the movie?
Our lead actress Elinor Price plays the role of Brooke, a soon to be married wife. What better way to start off your pre-wedding then Las Vegas? After the bachelorette party, things turn for the worst when the group of gals end up at the CLOWN MOTEL. Elinor’s character has an innocent look and feel to her, but don’t take that for granted. She can turn pretty insanely psychotic if the time calls for it. These clowns might be in for more than they bargained with.
What can horror fans expect (and not expect) from CLOWN MOTEL if it gets funded?
No doubt CLOWN MOTEL will get funded this week and horror fans can expect to see a crazy, adventurous, comedic, horrific, gory clown film. Think if DEVIL’S REJECTS meets CABIN IN THE WOODS and IT. I believe the fans will also love the solid story from point A to point Z. Fast paced, but can be suspenseful. Some fans might even choke on their popcorn.
What has it been like working in the real CLOWN MOTEL in Tonopah, Nevada?
I love on set locations. Like my other films, whether it be in a cabin in the middle of nowhere, or an amusement park, location is one of my biggest things when making the film. I want the feel of the spookiness, not some green screen room which 95% of films are filmed in. CLOWN MOTEL definitely has some real elements you can feel in the town, especially the Tonopah Cemetery which lays only footsteps away from the entrance of the CLOWN MOTEL. With a town population of 2,000, I think the clowns are the only ones that live in this society.
Do you expect the film to have a special screening at THE UPSTATE NEW YORK HORROR FILM FESTIVAL?
Along with our World premiere in Los Angeles of course, we do plan to have our East Coast premiere at one of our top 100 film festivals: THE UPSTATE NEW YORK HORROR FILM FESTIVAL. It should be a bloody good time. Look for those private screenings in the fall, 2018.
What advice would you give to aspiring horror filmmakers working with a small budget?
My first feature, I didn’t have 50K or 75K like I’m getting now to make these films. I had to build up. For first time aspiring horror filmmakers, or any filmmaker for that matter, don’t tell yourself that you need a half million, million, ten million budget. You don’t. Work with what you have. Save up for your equipment, get friends to get involved in your first film. Hell, I spent half my college days in the library writing scripts. Yes, you might make mistakes but learn from them. With every film you make, correct those mistakes and it can only get better from there.