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Written by By Tommy Faircloth   
Jun 09, 2004 at 02:00 AM
Sitting in the art department of DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE, I began writing the final script for CRINOLINE HEAD. It was fall of 94 and I was planning on shooting in summer of 95. I took advantage of being in the DIE HARD production office to begin to collect information for CRINOLINE HEAD. Stuff like, "Hi, this is Tommy at DIE HARD 3, and I am looking for (whatever). Could you have (whoever) return my call here at production?" Its amazing on how fast you get results when you are working on a big budget film. I got great deals on film, rental equipment and much more.
CRINOLINE HEAD was a major learning experience for me. I learned more on this film than anyone could teach me in film school. I was writer, producer, director, editor, and co-star. I know this sounds way conceited and stuff, but I was trying to save time and money by doing all I could myself. Never again! I went into this film just like any feature film. Having worked on several big budget features in the past like DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE, RENAISSANCE MAN, THE PROGRAM, and others, I tried to use my experience to go into pre-production for CRINOLINE HEAD. I originally wrote CRINOLINE HEAD in 1990 and shot it as a video short, but after rewrites, I basically changed everything except the title. I put an ad in the Hollywood Reporter announcing pre-production. This is a great way to get all kind of information and free stuff. There are many companies willing to send out 400 ft. rolls of film to you for testing if you tell them you are doing a feature. I got lots of 400ft rolls of free film that I ended up selling back to the same company after the shoot (These places also buy unused film.).
Casting really sucks, I mean I wanted good actors, but I hate auditions! I was really excited about the possibility of getting a name actor for my film -- Colleen Fitzpatrick. She played Amber Von Tussle in John Water's HAIRSPRAY. I met her through another friend and she really liked the script for CRINOLINE HEAD. But -- she is in a band called Eve's Plum (which rules and kick ass and appeared in John Singleton's HIGHER LEARNING) and they are signed to Sony records. My summer schedule totally conflicted with her recording schedule for their new album so that was a no can do. I was mostly concerned with the part of Paul in my film. He needed to be a really good actor. I got a really good actor but two weeks before the shoot, this kid backed out because he wanted to be a camp counselor! I wanted to slit his throat. Luckily, I got Brian Kelly, star of FREAKSHOW to play the part. He lived here in town, Columbia, South Carolina, so that was a relief. Just as important was the part of Jenny. She was the most animated and outrageous character in the film. During auditions, I got a call from Tracey Powlas. At the time, she was (get this) Tori Spelling's stunt double in this TV movie being shot in Charleston. That sold me.
CRINOLINE HEAD was my first feature film ever! I was really nervous going into this. I had a great D.P., Beau Chappell and my audio guys were twin brothers Tim and Tony Cargioli. They were all friends of mine and we had worked together before. People thought I was a total retard for attempting to do a feature and could not wait to down me when I failed to finish it! But surprise, I did complete it! I'd like to give a shout out to all of you losers who doubted me. Jealous much?
CRINOLINE HEAD was shot in 12 days in July of 1995.1 had to pick the hottest time of the year to film. The temperature never got below 90 degrees during the entire shoot. We were going to be at the lake house the first week and the cast and crew stayed at the house. I thought that if I could trap everyone into staying there, no one would be late arriving on the set. Anyway..
CRINOLINE HEAD is about a guy that wears a crinoline skirt on his head. As a child, this kid, named Dorchester, and his mother were at a secluded lake house for the summer. At the time, he was eight and there was no father. The mother was a doll maker and she made these dolls and stitched their clothes out of crinoline, a material like lace. Well, the mother dies and little Dorchester is left alone at the house in total seclusion with his dead mother. Dorchester was just a kid and was to scared to leave the house. But a kids gotta eat, right?
After being found and rescued, Dorchester was locked away with this crinoline skirt that he clung to like a security blanket. He liked to wear it over his face so no one could see him, and got the nick name, CRINOLINE HEAD. Upon turning 18, he escaped was never seen again.
So now its the present, and we have a fresh bunch of college students flocking to a lake house for a fun weekend. There is Jenny, a sorority bitch from hell; Cathy a tough tom boy type; Derrick, a nice all American guy; Paul, a quite recluse; Robyn, a happy, fun spirited girl; Trish, a bitch/Slut combo meal; Greg, a rich snob; and Bodhi and Mark, the Beavis and Butt-head couple. There are also some smaller parts like loud mouth punk girls, a drag queen and a pervert teacher. All the makings of a good horror/comedy.
Okay, CRINOLINE HEAD is not a total gore fest of blood and special effects. That was never the plan. I did all the blood and special effects myself that was needed. The blood was made from old reliable Kayro syrup and red food coloring. I was really relying on the comedy of this film to out weigh the gore, and it did. Some of the killings were really good and the celery kill has got to be one of the most memorable kill scenes to date. I mean, how many times have you seen someone get impaled with a stalk of celery?
There is one scene where Trish (Cathy Slaminko) was to be drowned in her own shit. I got Baby Ruth candy bars, packed with nuts, and bottled chocolate fudge. I put the mixture on a plate in a microwave to get in really soupy and mushy. After smearing her face in the mixture and screaming about how hot it was, she noticed the chocolate had glued her eyelashes to her face so I had to lick the chocolate off so she could open her eyes. It was really funny hearing her scream, "I feel nuts on my chin" and having her eyes glued shut. These are the types of special effects you can expect in my movie. CRINOLINE HEAD is like HEATHERS and CLUELESS meets FRIDAY THE 13TH and PINK FLAMINGOS. Sounds fun doesn't it?
The food ran out in a couple of days, so I had to charge more on another credit card. I was using about 10 cards during the shoot. I had also borrowed money from family to shoot CRINOLINE HEAD. Overall, we shot at about a 2:1 ratio which was excellent! Would you believe that I did not have one day of rehearsals? It was too difficult to schedule a cast of nine, so we had rehearsals about five minutes before we would shoot a scene. Being on the set was a riot. There was always laughing and joking. No matter how many hours everyone had been working, the laughter was always there. Sometimes is was difficult to shoot an entire scene without cracking up at Tracey Powlas, who played Jenny. She was hilarious and at least one reviewer thought she stole the show.
One good thing about shooting in South Carolina is that the story of a film being shot is big news, so everyone is eager to do stories on your film. The first week of shooting, my excellent co-producer, Bob Hall, had got four different newspapers and a television news team to come out to the lake house. I love publicity. A funny story is that when the news team came out, we really had nothing exciting for them to film us doing. It was a slow day and had just shot some dialogue scenes. I decided to put on a show for them and pretend to shoot this scene where one girl, Billie Fontanez, takes an ax to another, Tracey Powlas, and makes her fall off a pier into the water. It was great. We were not even rolling film and did this whole fake scene while the news guys were filming us. It was like putting on a show at Universal Studios. I even yelled "Cut!" They showed it on TV that night. It was great publicity, but don't look for that scene in the movie.
Another good thing about shooting in South Carolina is you don't need filming permits to shoot. This was great, especially when we took over this road in a little redneck town to shoot the drag queen scene. Watching passing truck drivers look in disbelief at this muscle bound man in a dress was great. These two rednecks stopped and watched us film for a while until they ran out of beer.
After filming was complete, it was kinda sad. It was like leaving summer camp. I mean, it was really a lot of hard work but it was so much fun. The cast and crew were excellent.

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