By MIKE CHAIKEN
Hells Bells Productions, which is composed of a Bristol woman and her creative partner from Massachusetts, has turned to the world of crowd funding to make their latest creative venture a reality.
Sarah Elizabeth of Bristol and Lauren Clarke of Massachusetts are the brains behind the web series, “Women of the Day.”
Up until now, the series has been filmed in either of their hometowns, Bristol or in Massachusetts. But the two women are looking to expand their horizons and the horizons of their characters by bring them to Georgetown in Washington D.C. And that’s where the crowdfunding comes in. They are looking to raise $700 to fund the journey, equipment and personnel to make it happen.
Sarah, in an email interview said, “’Women of the Day’ is based off of a short film of the same name that Lauren Clarke (the other half of Hells Bells) and I made two years ago. We screened it at the Indie Gathering International Film Festival in Hudson, Ohio last summer, and there was a very positive audience response to it.”
The film, Sarah continued, “was a slice-of-life comedy about two women in the real world. We were not trying to be overly glamorous or superficial by any means, but instead just be normal women. The film is very dialogue-based. We speak to each other in a way that women really do speak to each other, when there are no men around, when we are completely uninhibited and not embarrassed by anything we say or do.”
“We spoke to audience members after it screened,” said Sarah, “and several of them started offering up suggestions on different things we could do with the film. A few quipped that we could just go live onstage and talk to each other, as a standup routine, others suggested we could redevelop the film into a web series. We loved both ideas, so we decided we should do both. We began filming our first episodes last February, and then by the end of March, we had started uploading episodes to Facebook (www.facebook.com/ WomenoftheDay) and to Youtube (www.youtube.com/WomenoftheDay).”
“We also debuted a live act on March 30…at the 6th annual SWAN DAY CT in Manchester,” said Sarah.
Now, Sarah said, they want to go to Georgetown to film an episode called “Jane, Lyd and the Exorcist Stairs.”
“We want to expand beyond (our hometowns), because we feel like we are representative of your average woman in these times, and there are still not many series that show how women really talk and act around each other,” said Sarah. “The truth is, women can be quite disgusting and crass when we’re alone together. We can very much act ‘like guys’ when we are around our friends, not worrying about acting ‘ladylike’ or doing anything that would embarrass ourselves if there were a man present. But just the same, we can then go out into the world with grace, fashion and self-confidence.”
They chose Georgetown because “D.C. is the home of the infamous ‘Exorcist Stairs,’ a 97-step, stone staircase made famous by the 1973 horror film ‘The Exorcist.’”
To exploit the location, said Sarah, “I have written a script for a new episode that will take place on that exact staircase.”
How did Sarah go about choosing the “stairs” for this project?
“I first saw ‘The Exorcist’ when I was 14 years old, and a freshman in high school. I thought it was the most terrifying movie I ever saw in my life or ever would see. So much so that I swore to myself that I would never watch it again,” said Sarah.
“I made good on that promise for about three years, until I was a senior in high school, and I was at a cast party for a musical I was in. One of the guys in the cast came up with the brilliant idea to rent a movie and out of all the (films) in the world, he picked ‘The Exorcist’ as said movie,” explained Sarah. “So I saw it again then, even though I was an unwilling participant.”
“Then a few years after, I started to catch it on TV a few times. I would dare myself to watch it, so even though I still found it horrifying… and slowly began to appreciate just how brilliant it is,” said Sarah.
How did she find the actual stairs?
“One day when I was in college, I was watching (the movie) on TV, and I went online and started looking up the filming locations and other trivia facts – as people generally do when they start getting interested in something,” said Sarah. “I found that the long, narrow stone staircase in the movie is, in fact, a real spot in Georgetown, just as it’s depicted in the movie. Ever since then, I thought it might be a cool place to visit one day.”
As for how this impending episode fits into what’s already been done with “Women of the Day,” Sarah said, “Our episodes have often been ad-libbed, witty, sometimes crude, and then on occasion we’ll have episodes that are touching and poignant. I feel like ‘Jane, Lyd and the Exorcist Stairs’ is something that you would not expect at first because it touches on both sides of that. It is a comedy with some good laughs, but the way in which we utilize the staircase serves as an interesting metaphor for life, from birth into adulthood.”
The duo of Hells Bells “first met over 10 years ago when we were both theater students at the University of Massachusetts Boston,” said Sarah. “I transferred to Eastern Connecticut State University after that year, and we lost touch. Several years later, in 2009, I was browsing through IMDB.com and I noticed that Lauren had a film credit to her name. So on a whim, I decided to reach out to her and explain who I was and how great it would be to reconnect and possibly collaborate on a project.”
And a creative partnership was born.
As for Hells Bells’ future goals, Sarah said, “
“Our first goal is to build our audience online on our Facebook and Youtube pages, which can be found at www.facebook.com/WomenoftheDay and www.youtube.com/ WomenoftheDay, respectively. Then we would like to move onto the film festival circuit, where we started from with the short film… We think that our brand of offbeat humor would fit in well with cable networks such as HBO, IFC, Showtime, and so forth.” And they are looking to expand their live performances.
If you’re interested in helping the next episode in Georgetown become a reality, go to www.indiegogo.com/at/womenofthedayexorciststairs. On the Indiegogo page, there is a list of perks on the right side of the page, that every contributor can receive based on the amount that they put in.
Comments? Email mchaiken@BristolObserver. com.