Fictional film to feature a sinister side of the Scottville Clown Band

March 3, 2014
Photo from Eyde Company

Photo from Eyde Company

By Rob Alway. Editor-in-Chief.

SCOTTVILLE — The Scottville Clown Band is featured in a soon-to-be released film about Michigan. However, the fictional dark comedy portrays the band — and the state — in a slightly different light.

'Ronnie the Clown' is the lead fictional character. Photo from Eyde Company

‘Ronnie the Clown’ is the lead fictional character.
Photo from Eyde Company

The segment “Scottville” is part of a film titled “Michigan Stories.”

“The story is a narrative fiction laid over a real story and a real band,” said director Nathaniel Eyde, of the Eyde Company in East Lansing. “Ronnie is our fictional member of the Scottville Clown Band. The story centers around him on one fateful day. Through his point of view we learn that the band is much more than the fun, folksy group it appears to be on the surface. It harbors some dark, dangerous and pretty funny secrets.”

In fact, the band featured in the film has a sinister secret.

The Clown Band segment of “Michigan Stories” is the first segment to be completed for the feature anthology written Joe Anderson of Grand Rapids.

“The common thread of the stories, which will be bundled together in one feature film, is that they could take place in Michigan.”

While the main character is fictional, the actual Clown Band is featured in the opening scene of the film.

“Does it capture the essence of the Scottville Clown Band? Perhaps not,” said George C. Wilson, the Clown Band’s real life street leader. “I found the concept amusing in its own way. It is a piece of fiction that stands on its own and we were happy to extend the artists the opportunity to use the Clown Band as a backdrop to their story.”

Filming took place last fall when a crew embedded itself in the band at the Pulaski Days parade in Grand Rapids and then a few weeks later at the Frankfort Fall Festival.

The actor portraying “Ronnie” actually led the band, in a clown outfit, through the Grand Rapids parade. Other actors were located within the band and also in the audience.

“We shot a narrative story in the midst of a public event,” Edye said. “The technical term for this is ‘guerrilla filmmaking’ and it’s a big risk to undertake for a number of reasons.”

To further make it more complicated, Eyde was unable to attend the initial Grand Rapids filming because he was involved with a play at the Purple Rose Theater in Chelsea. He said he was pleased with what the crew did, however.

“It was an excellent cocktail of the band, the crowd, the actors and the crew mixing together to put a story on screen.”

He said the idea of choosing the Scottville Clown Band as a segment of the film came naturally. “The Clown Band is, to borrow the term, ‘Pure Michigan.’ It is a great group and a fun story to tell. Every good Michigander knows about the Clown Band!”

“The film segment was well shot and the production values are very good,” Wilson said.

Eyde, 39, grew up in East Lansing but left there for New York then Los Angeles, returning to Michigan in 2011.

He has been making films since 2004. He started with short films, showing them at film festivals all over the world. In 2012 his company produced the feature adaption of Elmore Leonard’s novel “Freaky Deaky,” which premiered at Tribeca Film Festival that year.

He said “Michigan Stories” is also scheduled to be featured in various film festivals, but he cannot announce them until it is official.

Members of the Clown Band were given a sneak peak of the film’s “Scottville” segment, but Eyde said he would prefer the general public not see the film until it is completed.


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