A group of friends ends up in an abandoned town called Clinton. There's talk of killer clowns in the area, but its not clear if that's true — until it becomes abundantly clear that it is true. Then the slashing part of the new movie "Clowntown" beginS.
Chris Hahn, a Lexington High School grad and former pro wrestler known as Johnny Paradise, plays "Machete Clown" in the movie, which was filmed in Crestline, among other locations.
"I was the gruesome, big, bullheaded clown," Hahn said. "I picked the people up and threw them over my shoulder, dragged them into the woods. It was fun."
Hahn, along with the rest of the clowns, didn't have any lines for David Kirst, the movie's sound recordist, to record on scene, but Kirst's work in Crestline was enough to keep him with the film through the end.
"Originally, I just got hired to do just that part, to record the sound in Crestline," said Kirst, also a Lexington grad. "They already had someone lined up to do the sound in all the other locations. When I got done doing the part in Crestline they asked me to do the whole film with them."
Tom Nagel, who produced, directed and acted in the film with his brother, Brian Nagel, was impressed with Kirst's work.
"He's one of those people that we found that we didn’t know and worked his butt off and did a great job for us, and it was a really great experience," Nagel said.
Nagel grew up in Westlake, a Cleveland suburb, so he always wanted to make a movie in the Cleveland area. Robert Kurtzman, a renowned special-effects artist, brought Nagel's attention south to Cresline, where Kurtzman lives.
"There’s a lot more talent in Cleveland, Mansfield, Crestline, Ohio in general than people realize," Nagel said.
Kirst and Hahn are among that pool of local talent staying in the area while continuing to work on the big and small screens.
Hahn also works as a personal trainer at the YMCA. He said the clientele he built up there is one of many reasons to stick in Mansfield, along with a low cost-of-living.
"I am a SAG actor, so whenever I go and do a picture they have to put me up, they have to feed me, and they have to pay me a daily based wage," Hahn said, "so it's more economical to live in Mansfield because they have to pay for my travel."
Kirst works as a CDL truck driver, and has signed on to act in "The Blueprint Saints," a television show still in the early stages of production.
"That’s my big break through," Kirst said. "That’s really going to be nationwide on TV."
Both Kirst and Hahn want to continue acting and advancing in their fields. Hahn thinks a new tax incentive for movie production in Ohio should help bring more to the area.
"Eventually, hopefully, it will be the more that these companies come into Ohio and they find out how fan-friendly the businesses are, more stuff will move in," he said.
"Clowntown" has premiered already in the United Kingdom, and its U.S. theatrical release is scheduled for the end of September. The film will be shown in Cleveland's Capitol Theater on Oct. 7, and in Columbus's Studio 35 on Oct. 9, with both shows starting at 7 p.m.
Watch the official trailer below: