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An Interview with Kris Smith, Co-Director of Clowns and Laura's Story

by Mike Haberfelner

March 2023

Films directed by Kris Smith on (re)Search my Trash

 

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Your two new movies Clowns and Laura's Story - in a few words, what are they about?

 

Clowns is simply a horror short that focuses on a girl and her friends being harassed by psychopathic clowns in the forest. Original I know! And Laura's Story is a short awareness film, showing the dangers of drink-spiking and its effect on people, especially women.

 

How did the two projects come about, actually, and since they're largely shot with the same crew, were they conceived as back-to-back projects from early on, or was one of them just a result of having worked well together on the other?

 

Producer Kellyann Summers and director Kirsty (Nikki Tomb) wanted to make Clowns for months but didnít get much luck with finding a reliable crew. They even crowdfunded the film but werenít successful. Our mutual friends linked us together via social media, and I was looking to do something creative again after a brief hiatus. I was pretty much a one-man band at the time, providing the camera, sorting sound, lighting and even editing both films back-to-back. It was a very challenging process for me. It was originally meant to be us making only Clowns, but during the second or third week of shooting Kirsty suddenly wanted us to make another short which came to be Laura's Story.

 

Let's talk about Clowns first - do talk about this movie's approach to horror!

 

The concept of clowns portraying as sadistic killers has been a phase for quite some time. Some have been very authentic and generally disturbing, like It (2017) and Terrifier 2 (2022), and some have been embarrassing such as the Camp Blood franchise. I donít personally have a fear of clowns so it was hard for me to make the film as gruesome as possible. There wasnít anything remotely original about Nikkiís script when I first read it, so I had to find a way of making the film horrific in a traditional sense. I concentrated more on the fear of the darkness and the idea of being alone at night in the middle of the forest. That to me was scarier than killer clowns on the loose.

 

What can you tell us about the look and feel of Clowns?

 

My inspiration for when I was making Clowns were movies like Blair Witch (2016) and Cabin Fever (2002). I guess I was going for a more documentary-style look for the film, creating a kind of ďsnuff-filmĒ handheld feel Ė unnerving and voyeuristic. Like youíve stumbled across some dodgy home movies in a basement and Clowns would be one of the videos. We were making a low budget indie film with portable lights in the woods at night-time with very little time and money, so handheld felt appropriate at the time.

 

Do talk about Clowns' cast, and why exactly these people?

 

I wasnít involved with the casting of Clowns. Everybody was cast by the time I was asked to come on board. Kellyann and Kirsty had to get rid of a couple of actors to begin with but overall the cast were the best thing about making that film. My hat goes off to actors like Annina Kaski and Shane Buckley (Jasmine and Josh) as I thought they were patient, friendly and professional. Tom Summers (Lewis) is Kellyannís husband, and Vicky Lissaman(Cindy) is an Instagram model, so they had very little experience, but they did a good job.

 

A few words about the shoot as such?

 

Other than the fact that the film was meant to be feature length and that the ending was rushed in my opinion, as there was a lot of creative differences towards the end of the shoot. Probably the hardest thing Iíve ever had to create as a filmmaker because horror is without a doubt the most challenging genre to get right.

 

On to Laura's Story - with this one based on a true story, does that in any way alter your approach to filmmaking, and what can you tell us about your directorial approach to the story at hand?

 

Take the words true story with a pinch of salt. The concept was apparently based on Kirstyís bad experience one night, but she fictionalised quite a lot of things in the script. I wasnít so sure about directing at first because it wasnít personal to me. I never experienced a night like that before, so my understanding was pretty vague. Plus I felt like the story needed to be told by a woman as these are serious female issues in life. But due to Kirstyís lack of experience directing I ended up helping her. We took the premise very seriously however, I wanted to make it grounded and hard-hitting as possible for the audience to feel for the characters.

 

Given the rather sensitive subject matter, how easy or hard was it to cast Laura's Story, and what can you tell us about your cast?

 

Again, I wasnít involved with the casting of that film. But Kellyann and Kirsty did a great job finding them as they were phenomenal with their performances. Kellyann Summers was our producer for both shorts and she plays Kaylee, the devil on Lauraís shoulder. A lot of people said she stole the film but for me it was Megan Groves (Laura), an upcoming actor who I genuinely believe will be a star one day. The script was plain and basic so the cast improvised most of the dialogue to keep it convincing and authentic as they interact with each other.

 

Again, do talk about the shoot as such?

 

It was torture trying to stage a night club on a Saturday night! We werenít provided that many extras for our clubbing scenes so it was hard to stage properly. The shoot was an experience Iíll never forget.

 

Now how did the shoots of these two films actually compare?

 

Laura's Story was a smoother process whereas Clowns was more complicated and all over the place with its direction and organising. Less days to shoot for Laura's Story as that was something like two weekends worth. But Clowns took an unnecessary amount of time, something like nearly half a year due to weather conditions and availability.

 

The $64-question of course, where can Clowns and Laura's Story be seen?

 

The films can be seen for free on YouTube, even though Kirsty uploaded it on Amazon Prime. I can happily give you the links here. For Laura's Story: youtu.be/Qe97PN25Im8 - and for Clowns: youtu.be/5hd7Z4UXl4w.

 

Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of the two movies?

 

They seem to have had a positive reception. Both were nominated for awards, but we werenít fortunate enough to win any. Maybe next time! Weíve received mostly good reviews on various websites though and Iím pleased with how both films turned out.

 

Any future projects you'd like to share?

 

Iím glad you asked! Iím in pre-production for my latest short film New Yearís Eve, a crime thriller about two strangers meeting online and going out for a date on NYE. The crux of it all is that one of them isnít telling the truth on their dating profile! We start shooting in May and Iím so excited about this one as Iíll have full creative control for the first time since the pandemic. Plus I co-wrote the script this time so it feels like a breath of fresh air.

 

What got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?

 

I love movies and filmmaking for as long as I can remember. Borrowed my parentsí video camera at the age of 6 and filmed little sketches with my schoolfriends. I originally wanted to be an actor but decided in my teens that being behind the camera was my true passion. Studied over at Norwich University College of the Arts with a Masters Degree in film.

 

What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Clowns and Laura's Story?

 

I made some feature films prior to Clowns and Laura's Story. Wrote, produced and directed a drama, Iím Still Here starring Dan Burman (Human Centipede II) and Lucy Russell (HBOís Chernobyl), which was about terminal illnesses and the time we have left with our loved ones. Also Z-Listers, which is a comedy about the lifestyles of Z-list celebrities, and I made a period piece drama set in 1960ís about a love triangle titled Damage. They can also be viewed on YouTube for free.

 

How would you describe yourself as a director?

 

I can be blunt and forward at times, but some actors appreciate that approach. Iím a hands-on director who likes to engage with his cast and crew, but since I started photographing my films Iíve been more distant directing while focusing on framing the scenes simultaneously. Itís not an easy job!

 

Filmmakers who inspire you?

 

Kubrick, Tarantino, Spielberg and Coppola. Four legends who went far and beyond for their storytelling.

 

Your favourite movies?

 

Iíll keep it brief for your sanity! Oldboy (2003), American History X (1998), A Clockwork Orange (1971), Saving Private Ryan (1998), Saw (2004), Apocalypse Now (1979).

 

... and of course, films you really deplore?

 

All movies are art! Haha joking. I REALLY didnít like Ghost Rider (2007) for some reason. Remembered walking out of the cinema in utter disgust.

 

Your/your movies' website, social media, whatever else?

 

Feeling lucky ?
Want to
search
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?

The links below
will take you
just there!!!

Find Kris Smith
at the amazons ...

USA  amazon.com

Great Britain (a.k.a. the United Kingdom)  amazon.co.uk

Germany (East AND West)  amazon.de

Looking for imports ?
Find Kris Smith here ...

Thailand  eThaiCD.com
Your shop for all things Thai

If you search for TV Bandits on YouTube you should be able to find my work on there. I do have Instagram and Facebook as well where I promote my work.

 

Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?

 

Not at all! You did great with these questions and it was a pleasure. Thank you.

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
Amazon!!!

 

 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD