There comes a time in every child/parent relationship where the power structure gets shaken up, the parent starts showing vulnerabilities and in some cases the child even starts being the adult. Fascinated by this change of dynamics, S/W alum Jason Jeffrey (Bonfire) wrote the story of Clown Face and its disgraced dad protagonist Michael, who is post mid-life crisis and desperately trying to make amends with his daughter. Driven by its strong performances and genuine dialogue, the film is an emotional watch, underscored with comedic moments due to the absurdity of the situation.
Michael got drunk, crashed his daughter’s date and then she had to take him home and spend the night on her couch. Michael is a mess! Jeffrey wanted to portray his ridiculous behavior in a visual way, hence the titular clown face he unwittingly sports. He is a clown, providing the funny (in a sad way) tone of the film. His irrational behavior and unwillingness to pay the consequences are extremely immature, upset his daughter, but make entertaining material. His face makes it impossible for him to be taken seriously as he attempts a sensible conversation and make amends for his many mistakes.
The shift of power is in full effect in Clown Face. The daughter has to parent her dad, she gives him a place to stay, feeds him breakfast and tries to reason with him. She is clearly very angry but still remains civil and tries to have a conversation and explain the situation in a composed manner as he is trying to ask for advice and shows weakness. Jeffrey’s fascination for this kind of situations shows on screen with the intriguing relationship between Michael and Laurie.
For the script to hit the right notes, a lot relied on the performances. The male part was written for Matt Gordon and Jeffrey enlisted Chloe Rose to play the daughter – they had already shared the screen as father/daughter on the TV show Rookie Blue. They both deliver very honest and genuine performances that also bring to the screen the emotions of what happened before the film started.
Jeffrey’s previous short film, A Teachable Moment, premiered at Tribeca 2016 and won’t be released online for another year due to contractual obligations. He decided to release Clown Face online, instead of taking it on the festival circuit, valuing easy access to his work and the exposure he hopes it brings, as he is penning his second feature.