Recently, I had the pleasure of reviewing the upcoming Circus of the Dead by Billy “Bloody Bill” Pon, and was pretty blown away by it. Through some unusual circumstances (involving a little embarrassment for Yours Truly), I’ve had the equal pleasure of being able to have a little one-on-one conversation with one of stars of the film, the multi-faceted and mesmerizing Chanel Ryan.
LEGLESSCORPSE: I really enjoyed your work in Circus of the Dead. How would you describe your experience working on the film, and with director Billy “Bloody Bill” Pon?
CHANEL RYAN: Thank you! Circus of the Dead was a lot of fun to make and Billy is great to work with. How would I describe my experience? – Hot and dusty! We filmed in Odessa, Texas in August! The first couple days of filming were rocky. We had some set backs and then regrouped and had to make up time in the last couple days of filming. This meant re-shooting the first day, as well as doing a couple of key scenes involving a ton of dialog and action very quickly, with limited takes, and no time for rehearsals. I think we shot 3 days worth of scenes (which was already a very optimistic schedule) in one 15-16 hour day! I remember at the end of my scenes sitting at the dining room table, covered in blood, eating my dinner and feeling completely energized when I should’ve been exhausted.
LC: The movie is a wild ride, both visually and thematically. What was your initial reaction to the script?
CR: I loved the challenges involved with the script and was excited to be play Tiffany. I was originally introduced to Billy Pon and the film thru actor Andrew Sensenig who spoke very highly of him. Billy’s passion for the project is infectious. After doing some research on Billy and previous film Doll Boy I was in! World look out, Billy Pon is here to stay!
LC: What was it like working with Bill Oberst Jr.? Your scenes with him were pretty intense…
CR: Bill Oberst Jr. is not only a huge talent, but a really nice human being; I am very fortunate to be cast opposite him. He is a consummate professional, and really knows his craft; this definitely made my job easier. He is one of the nicest, most polite actors I have ever worked with, apologizing before our scenes and in between takes making sure I was OK. Bill has a very long career ahead of him.
LC: How was the experience of working with those FX? I imagine it would be odd to see a cast of your severed head looking back at you…
CR: Yeah it is definitely creepy watching some of the things on screen that happen to my character. My Mom will not be seeing this film! After I wrapped filming Billy would send me random photos with himself and other cast and crew and my severed head! He brings it out to appearances! It was on the table at Texas Frightmare Weekend – I tried not to look at it! I actually think my head lives in his office now; we’ll have to ask him about that one!
LC: For the movie to have been such an intense, brutal ride to view, I’ll wager you all had a fantastic time behind the scenes. Any stories or memories that stick out in your mind?
CR: This would be true! Horror films are the most fun to make! Circus of the Dead was no exception. It is a true indie film, and a labor of love by Billy Pon, Lee Anrkum and their friends. What most people don’t know, including myself at the time of filming, is that the crew is made up of Billy’s friends, most of who don’t work in the entertainment industry! They were all working full time jobs and all coming together to make a crazy, twisted film they believed in. It is truly a testament to Mr. Pon!
A little bit of CIRCUS OF THE DEAD trivia: I never went to the doctor, but I’m pretty sure my toe was broken filming one of the scenes with Bill Oberst Jr’s character, Papa Corn! We are running thru the house and “Papa Corn” is wearing these over sized clown boots. I trip and fall and my poor toe was accidentally stomped on in a few separate takes. It immediately turned purple and black. It’s crazy how something so small can hurt so much! I wasn’t able to wear shoes for a couple weeks after filming. Funny thing is, I don’t think the scene is even in the film.
LC: You’ve a broad acting repertoire, covering the lion’s share of the whole range between comedy and drama. You’ve done a lot of horror/sci-fi-type films of late; do you have a particular affinity for the genre?
CR: Comedy is actually my first love! Lately I seem to go back and forth between comedic roles and horror films. Earlier this summer I filmed comedy Mind Puppets, which has a great cast including Vinnie Jones and Kevin Pollak, and romantic comedy Love Addict. I am building a name for myself in the horror genre. It is nice to be embraced by a genre and to experience success in an area. Horror fans are the best! There is a huge market and demand for films in the genre, and as I said, they are also the most fun to make!
LC: Besides acting, modeling, and being heavily involved in photography layouts and production, you’re also a film producer, with a short film and an upcoming feature in your portfolio thus far. Which aspect of the entertainment industry do you enjoy the most?
CR: The competition in the entertainment industry is brutal, whether it be modeling or acting. I enjoyed success as a model for years and was fortunate to work all over the world. In the early years of my career I started producing my own swimsuit calendars and photo shoots, which I then syndicated to the magazines internationally for covers and layouts; this helped launch my modeling career. I originally started producing photo shoots out of a need to further my career, and discovered I was good at it. From there I went on to produce shoots for magazines, fashion designers, actors, models and Publicity shoots for films. I am very focused on my acting career now, and thankfully working pretty much non-stop, but do love producing photo shoots. It is a great creative outlet for me, so I still do the occasional shoot when time allows. I am actually doing one for a British TV host later this month (Hi Stacey!). I have also produced a couple behind the scenes videos to go along with my calendars, and a fun film noir short called Get Away which there are two versions of. The video was originally shot for a European artist and then we did a re-edit with one of my favorite songs from Lou Reed, Take a Walk on the Wild Side.
With my producing partners Mark Vadik and James Hallam, we are in development on a feature film, which hopefully will go into production either later this year or beginning of next year. Anyone in the industry knows how difficult it is to get a film made. Combine that with my hectic schedule!
LC: Any thoughts of writing, or directing?
CR: Hmmm. I have a couple ideas for films but I am not a writer and have no immediate plans to pen anything…but never say never. I have been told it is the best way to create compelling parts for myself. I would probably be a good director simply because I have an eye for detail and understand how to work with actors, but am very content in front of the camera for now.
LC: You’re constantly working; films, advertising, image consulting, photography production, and charitable work for animal rights; obviously, you’re passionate about all the things that you do. Are you ever overwhelmed, or do you thrive in that kind of “always-busy” environment?
CR: Every day! But yes I do thrive in a “always-busy” environment where I am on a tight deadline. I don’t do well without a schedule. I also don’t sleep much. I love what I do and wake up every day psyched and excited to see what new opportunities the day holds.
LC: Besides your own upcoming feature, what other projects can we look for you in soon?
CR: Horror fanatics will be happy to know I have three films in the genre soon to be released. The upcoming “creature feature” Dead Sea with scream queen Devanny Pinn just came out on VOD/DVD so you can find it there. We are still waiting for a release date for Alice D. from director Jessica Sonneborn, where I play Kane Hodder’s evil sidekick. It was awarded “Best Horror Film” at IFS Festival where the premiere was held on May 27th. Skum Rocks is about a band by the same name who gained massive popularity in the 1980’s despite having zero musical talent; I play the lead singer’s disgruntled ex-girlfriend. The film is narrated by Alice Cooper, and had it’s U.S. premiere at Mann’s Chinese theater May 30th. The film has an all-star cast including Kevin Bacon, Matthew Broderick, Fran Drescher and numerous rock & roll legends. I also just filmed the finale episode of comedy/horror Hell’s Kitty with Elissa Dowlin, Lynn Lowry, Kelli Maroney and Dale Midkiff. I love this project because proceeds go to help animals in need. Every episode features actors who are legendary in the horror genre.
Of course, I have a few films in pre-production but I have learned not to discuss projects until I have actually started filming them, so stay tuned! Oh, I almost forgot! Fans of Bad Kids Go To Hell will be happy to know I head to Texas next week to film the sequel, Bad Kids Go 2 Hell; I am reprising my role as “Ms Gleason”. Ben Browder is back as “Max”, and also directing. The cast for part 2 is pretty amazing and will be announced shortly! If I told you everyone would be sent to detention, including myself!
LC: I know you’re a huge supporter of animal rights, and had something you wanted to say, so please, be our guest!
CR: Thank you! I am a huge animal lover and advocate for animal rights and like to end every interview with a shout out to my animal friends and a plea. If you own a pet please spay or neuter it. If you are thinking of getting a pet please look into adopting from your local shelter or animal rescue. There are so many wonderful animals in need or safe, loving homes. If you are not in a place to own a pet but want to help you can volunteer at your local shelter or sponsor an animal. Be part of the solution and help end animal homelessness and abuse. There are a ton of wonderful animal organizations out there doing great work helping animals in need. A few of my favorites are The Gentle Barn, Actors and Others for Animals, Best Friends Animal Society, Four Legged Friends Foundation, Stray Cat Alliance, Teen VGN, Models and Mutts, and PETA.
I’d like to thank Chanel one more time for taking the time out of her crazy busy schedule to talk to li’l ol’ me, and for being as forgiving as she is lovely. 🙂 Best of luck in all your future projects…we’ll be watching!
For the latest and greatest, follow Chanel online:
Twitter : https://twitter.com/ChanelRyan
JUST CLICK HERE
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