WeHeartHorror.com: Why did you decide to make Dorothy?
Eros Romero: To be honest, I just had the desire to make a film involving clowns. I've loved clowns since I was a child. I never found them scary - just funny and uplifting. I didn't really know what type of film I wanted to make until I started brain-storming and searching for inspirations then I decided to make a horror.
WHH: What were the inspirations for creating the concepts of Dorothy?
ER: People assume that because it has two individuals trapped in a room, that I got my inspiration from Saw - but it wasn't. The main inspiration was from a French play called No Exit, by Jean-Paul Sartre. It's about three deceased individuals who are in hell and their punishment is being locked in a room together for eternity. Also, the realisation that there haven't been many horror films which had a clown as a protagonist or victim. Generally, they are the villain or monster. So, I thought it would be a great opportunity to have the roles revered in this film - portray the clown as the victim and a little girl as the evil monster.
WHH: How did you go about casting for the film?
Daniel Stockwell: Casting the role of the girl was a unique experience for Eros and I. We never worked with a child before, and were quite cautious in approaching the auditions. Ashleigh Slader was involved in running the auditions - she had worked with children in the past. We eventually found this gorgeous little girl with a bubbly personality and frizzy hair - Eros fell in love with the hair! - that blew us away with a great audition. The decision was made fairly quickly that Courtney was the perfect choice for the role.
WHH: And casting the clowns?
DS: Eros and I handled those auditions ourselves. The two standout actors were cast. Interestingly, both Darrell and Andrew had auditioned for the company's first film but just missed out on the roles. Eros and I remembered each man and always said that we wanted to work with them in the future. With Dorothy, we were finally able to work with Darrell and Andrew, both of whom were fun and extremely professional.
WHH: The film shows a great makeup design and the doll is just creepy. What were the inspirations and how did you create such effective character appearances?
ER: I wanted the clowns' appearances to be different from today's modern clown, so I looked at how they were portrayed in the early 1900s. I found the style of makeup and attire back then very interesting. The production designer Joelle Peters and makeup artist Davina Faye did an amazing job achieving this unique look. With Dorothy and her doll - again, credit goes to Joelle. All I asked was to make them look creepy and she definitely did.
Courtney Monsma: My friends see photos of me as Dorothy and get really freaked out!
WHH: Where did the doll come from?
ER: Joelle actually made it from scratch. She sewed the doll together, made its clothes, and did its hair and makeup. She practically gave birth to it.
WHH: Courtney, how did you achieve playing such a frightening role for such a young girl?
CM: I had lots of workshop days with the production team where we worked on my delivery on the lines. The rest was just me imitating the scary movies that I watch at home with my friends. When filming, I had to stop to focus so I could get into the role of Dorothy, but once I got into that demonic zone, it all just came naturally.
WHH: What were some of the challenges you all faced?
DS: We shot the movie in a small room during February 2011 - which in Brisbane, is a particluarly hot time of year. The room itself would've easily reached temperatures of 46 degrees, possibly more. We shot the film in a house that was significantly damaged by the Brisbane floods of 2011 - this almost postponed the shoot. In a stroke of luck however, the owner of the home allowed us to shoot in an area he intended to demolish in the following months. Aside from the walls being easier to shake, it did have an affect behind the scenes - none more so than the electricals. Due to the damage to the property, we had to use a generator to power the entire production. That was a task in itself.
CM: My very first audition was probably one of the most interesting and challenging auditions i have ever attended.
ER: I remember being frightened by Courtney during auditions. Out of the thirty or so girls that went for the part, she was the creepiest and the most disturbing. When I found myself not making eye contact with her out of fear, I knew she would be perfect for the role.
CM: I guess I've always had the ability to switch on an evil side and I utilised that ability which thankfully got me the part!
WHH: Dorothy was made on a small budget of $5000 - What were the biggest challenges faced in ensuring that the final film reflected the quality of a film with a larger budget?
ER: The biggest challenge was not to cheap out on the production design. If the room didn't look scary or feel claustrophobic, then the audience would have never bought in to the story. I remember the room was originally too big for my liking so Joelle actually constructed two extra walls to make the room smaller and claustrophobic. Also, the quality of the film seems to reflect a bigger budget because of the professionalism and skills of the entire crew. It was beautifully shot by Marcus Wilson primarily with a Canon 7D camera, and nicely pieced together by Dan Rice. The amazing original score written by Jaclyn Webb and Mark Welge gave the film its voice.
WHH: Dorothy has had a great reception since its release - The film won a variety of awards and selections for film festivals. Can you tell us more about the reactions you have been getting for the film?
ER: It was well received in Canada, Hungary and of course, back home in Australia, but the film found most of its success in the US. Most of the great reception and awards came from there. I guess Americans adore clowns just as much as I do. I can honestly say that I didn't expect the amount of positive reactions and success. When Dorothy began its festival circuit, we were aiming to make it into one or maybe two festivals - but to make it into 27 festivals and winning six awards, is very humbling. None of us saw this coming.
CM: The overwhelming response from the film nominations makes me so happy, because I get to say I was - or am - a part of that film and it's so rewarding to see that all the hard work is acknowledged.
WHH: Are there any upcoming projects that you are working on, that you can tell us about?
ER: At the moment, we're working on a script for our next project. I can't really give too much away at the moment, but once I can give you more details, you will be the first to know. Promise!
WHH: What state does the Australian horror film industry find itself in today?
ER: Wolf Creek is the only film that springs to mind that has found success. However, in the independent circuit, Australian horror is excelling. Australians love their horror films, but it's unfortunate that many filmmakers have to fund themselves. Hopefully one day, the Australian mainstream film industry will be more embracing of the genre, as there is a huge audience in this country craving for it.
For more information on Dorothy, visit the official site here: www.makedorothylaugh.com
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Watch Dorothy below
Indie Film: Dorothy
By Andreas Charalambous - 12th November 2013
Dorothy is an Australian horror short made on a small budget of $5000. Named after the girl who is possessed by a demon, it is the tale of two clowns who are being held hostage until one of them makes her laugh. The bad news for the clowns (played by Darrell Plumridge and Andrew Nathan) is that the only thing that would make Dorothy (Courtney Monsma) laugh, is the sight of blood and violence.
"God can't help you here. You're stuck with me my dear. You will be torn in half. Unless you make me laugh", sings Dorothy as the two terrified clowns stare at each other in terror, wondering what it would take to set them free.
We caught up with the film's writer/director; Eros Romero, producer; Daniel Stockwell, and Dorothy herself; Courtney Monsma to find out how this chilling horror short came to be.