The origins of the film

In November of 2008, Jimmy and Dickon had an idea to make a film about the Romani people in Romania. Their idea was to create a film to help increase awareness of the realities of these peoples' lives, and to spread their voices beyond the borders of Romania itself. A proposal to the British Arts Council was drafted, in order to secure funding, which was accepted, and the wheels were put into motion, with Marion and Myles then joining the project shortly thereafter.

Their initial proposal was to travel around Romania with a loop station, recording sounds and melodies performed by various Romani musicians. After thinking through the logistics and concept, they decided that they needed another angle in order to interact with people more closely. Jimmy had had previous experience with Clown Therapy in Italy, and proposed that the team train as clowns, performing in Romani communities across the country. The idea rapidly evolved into intense clown training. Long hours were spent watching classic Chaplin and Keaton movies, and the team created two main sketches for their routine; “Esta Muerte” and “Charm that Girl”. First AD, Marion, joined them with singing and acting alongside the sketches.

In May 2009 Henderson and Bevan made an initial preliminary trip to Romania to meet Parada, an association that helps street kids gain circus skills. They also met Rafael Vasile, himself a Romani ex-street kid who helped them approach the Romani quarter in Bucharest, Ferentarii. Rafael also helped to add material to their routine, training them with new clown skills and improving their sketches to appeal to their Romani audience.

On 3 June 2009, the group started their journey to Romania, collecting a camper van in Macedonia and driving for over 18 hours to their destination. Starting at Bucharest the group travelled through Romania performing clown theatre to various different Romani communities, some who had never had contact with outsiders. They shot footage on a Sony HVR A1, a camera chosen for its small size in order to avoid seeming intimidating or intrusive.

A total of over 19 hours of footage was filmed initially, and the film was edited at TODAY IS BORING studios in London within six months, using four different Macs. At one stage of the post production, Jimmy and Dickon decided to try using stop-motion animation. They painstakingly constructed a 3D scale map of Romania, complete with mountains, and small carefully designed model camper van. The intensity and slow pace of this choice was definitely a major factor in this cinematic device's abandonment, as well as the fact that it just didn't quite look right, Jimmy and Dickon were covered in sweat from the hot lights, and the little model camper van had moved a total of six inches, in as many hours.

Behind the Scenes

Production Stills