Horror-on-Sea interview with Paul Rogers and Holly-Anne Dodkins for Cleavers Killer Clowns

Cleavers: It Runs in the Family (2019)

Director: MJ Dixon

Writer: MJ Dixon

Stars: Georgie Smibert, Gemma Louise Troughton, Paul Rogers, Jessica Michelle Smith, Holly-Anne Dodkins

Deputy Jody Ann Howells, a survivor of the Still Rivers Massacre, is on the trail of a young woman, on the run after being found on the scene of a horrific murder, a young woman who may be connected to her past. As Howells closes in on her she discovers that the killer she faced all those years ago may still be alive and kicking and he has his sights on a family making a cross country road trip, only this time he’s not alone.

Date & Venue: Saturday 12th January 20:00

Park Inn by Radisson Palace, Southend, Church Rd, Southend-on-Sea SS1 2AL, UK

With Cleavers: It Runs in the Family premiering at Horror-on-sea Film Festival I got a chance to ask actor Paul Rogers and actress Holly-Anne Dodkins a few questions about what we can expect from the film.

Cleavers: It Runs in the Family Interview – Paul Rogers

Q. Cleavers: It Runs in the Family has been selected to play at Horror-on-Sea Film Festival, what can people expect from the film?

Everything gets bigger, bloodier and better! Cleavers brings the audience to a time where Cleaver has ‘settled’ and has connections that help him to do ‘his work’ while spending crucial time with his daughter. They have a family home, cook special meals and love to have guests over for dinner. Literally! More blood, more fights and more gore than ever before! The last five years has been good to Cleaver. But the past is catching Cleaver up. People hell bent on revenge are hot on Cleavers trail and the net is closing in. Cleaver has been busy though in more ways than one – a big surprise awaits all!

Q. You play Cleaver in the film. Can you tell us a little bit about you character?

Cleaver was angry and on a mission in the original film. He is now happy to be with his daughter so he has set up home but his lust for killing has not been quelled, if anything he seems to be more long term planning with his lifestyle. His love for his daughter see’s them have a special connection that only Cleaver and his daughter could have. Between them they are comfortable inviting guests over for dinner in a unique way but the guests just don’t realise they are dinner! Local connections help Cleaver to continue his colourful yet gore fest of killing, he is almost too comfortable.

Q. What sort of preparation did you do for the role?

Paul Rogers as Cleaver

First was the look, could we achieve a believable connection with the original – taking over from an existing character in any film is always hard, especially for fans. We had a five year period to develop what Cleaver would be like from the original film so a new costume, bigger cleavers and clever tweaks to make up helped to pull off this crucial first step. With two films on DVD for sale that Mycho and Andrew Greenwood had already brilliantly achieved for the Character I spent many hours watching, pausing, mimicking Andrew’s performances from Slasher House (2012) and Cleaver: Rise of the killer Clown (2015). Tying in similar lines I tried to create a Cleaver that had more confidence, cunning and insanity that would have matured from his five years since Cleaver: Rise of the killer clown. Cleavers choice over five years was to continue killing and as he had settled down with his daughter in Cleavers he had to have a certain air of confidence that he was untouchable and in control of every situation so we developed a laugh to make the hairs on your neck stand up. I am a proud father so showing a warm and proud connection with Mary Beth ‘Little Miss Cleaver’ was probably the easier for me and Holly-Anne is a delight to work with. Finally with great make up and close direction and support on the key movements I was ready to be the frenzied killer, Cleaver!

Q. Did you make any changes to the character from how it was written in the original script?

Most changes that were added to the original script were made on the day of filming, mainly by MJ and the support of the rest of the great cast and team. The script is really well written and I personally felt that it was perfect show Cleavers development from the original film. I suppose I did get carried away with the manic laughter though, throwing more and more in at every opportunity, not sure how much will make it to the final edit though! I loved the chase/fight scene near the end and the confrontation between Cleaver, Tanya Harvey and Sheriff Jodi-Ann Howells. The balance going one way then the other was great and adding more darkness into the Cleaver felt right especially when the gun was trained on him, I hope the darkness and lightness really comes through in that scene!

Q. Did you experience any issues whist filming Cleavers: It Runs in the Family?

There were a few but the Mycho team are unbelievably talented and always think of solutions. Any problems were met with great humour and turned into a positive and in my opinion actually added to the film. The swinging cleaver traps were my favourite filming issue, rope had disappeared but an old mop was broken up and the string ends all tied together made the trap. The problem was the knots would trap in the pulley and get stuck or pull the pulleys down, but the ‘knot’ jokes flew back and forth and the effect of old knotted string looked perfect for the building where Cleaver lives, see how many knots you can count! We had some windy days that kept blowing my hair off which was very funny too and my boots fell apart during the fight near the end so I hope that looks like I put my ‘sole’ into that scene!

Q. What was one of your favourite moments during filming?

One! Really! Could it be all the spiders, the knotted rope, hair falling off, teeth falling out, no, I will have to go for the moment I was first made up and seeing everyone’s reactions to Cleaver, MJ and Anna worked so hard to give Cleaver a new look but one that showed a connection to the past and I think it really paid off. Everyone was in shock and that was great news for Cleavers. The first shoot for cleaver was being at the front door which was being opened by Chase – Olivia Krys – Chase was trying to escape the house and as she tries to go out the front door, there is cleaver with a witty line and the look of horror as Olivia first saw me in make up was priceless! I hope it made acting being sacred easier!

Q. What do you think makes Cleavers: It Runs in the Family stand out in the horror genre?

It has to be the Intertwined stories and how you can build up a relationship with the characters in the film. Cleavers ties a few stories together within the film and in my opinion the script and acting was sensational from everyone and there was nothing micro budget about these areas, we could follow Jody-Ann, Tanya or Misty anywhere after this film! And that is the best part  hovering nicely above Cleavers above that is a network of films that help the fans to really follow their favourite characters and you can just imagine how huge the Mycho Universe can get, I know how hard they are working on new films all the time!

Q. Do you have any other projects which you are currently working on?

I am on Stage currently till the end of the first week of January in an adult Pantomime, Alice’s Wonderbra – The Directors Cup! And also busy researching for a role hopefully in a production of Jekyll and Hyde later in 2019 and of course the next 99 films of Cleaver! I am also developing my magic act to go on stage.

Q. What advice would you give to someone who is looking to get into acting?

Get experience anyway you can, help out on sets, get to know people, the language, but most of all really understand what type of role is for you – be realistic. Use your strengths to your advantage, if you are 23 and look 12, go for the younger roles and blow people away with your experience. If you have long hair use it for certain character roles. Finally, enjoy yourself, eve if things go wrong, head up and keep smiling, being positive is very important on set.

Cleavers: It Runs in the Family Interview – Holly-Anne Dodkins

Q. Cleavers: It Runs in the Family has been selected to play at Horror-on-Sea Film Festival, what can people expect from the film?

They can expect lots of blood and some great special effects! The storyline will have them gripped to their seats and I can’t wait to see their faces following the twist at the end….

Q. You play Mary-Beth Layton in the film. Can you tell us a little bit about you character?

My character has obviously grown up a lot since the last film and being such a daddy’s girl has picked up tricks of the trade that confirms it does run in the family! She has now developed her own sense of self and it won’t take long before the audience realise that despite that sweet and innocent way about as she skips off into her house, looks can most certainly be deceiving.

Q. What sort of preparation did you do for the role?

My main preparation was working on my Southern American accent. I watched quite a few videos of people with this accent and tried my best to mimic the way they spoke. I then went over my lines trying to pronounce each word the correct way. Having more experienced American and Canadian actors on set was a massive help as if I was ever stuck, I would just ask them to deliver my lines, so I could hear how it was meant to sound and copy them as much as I could. Although my accent is definitely not perfect this really helped me along. The cast and crew were all very encouraging and were all so nice considering the amount of bloodshed between us!

Q. Did you make any changes to the character from how it was written in the original script?


Holly-Anne Dodkins as Lil Cleaver

After reading the script for this film for the first time I was completely obsessed with the character that MJ (Dixon) had written and I wanted to try hard to portray Mary-Beth as closely to the way she was written. I therefore did my best to make Mary-Beth both extremely innocent yet sinister at the same which I hope came across in the film

Q. Did you experience any issues whilst filming Cleavers: It Runs in the Family?

Not really. Anna (Dixon) always made sure I was happy and well-fed while on set and I managed to keep warm and awake during night shoots. However, in the main location which we filmed there were far too many spiders which I know terrified both Derek (Nelson) and I!

Q. What was one of your favourite moments during filming?

The whole experience was amazing, it’s so hard to choose, but I think a moment that stands out has to be when Lil miss cleaver comes face to face with Artie played by Derek Nelson. It is impossible to keep a straight face when working with Derek especially in this scene and I could not stop giggling – I’ve never met anyone so excited by the fact he may be murdered! Luckily MJ said that my smile made Mary-Beth seem more sinister in the scene, so I guess I need to thank Derek for making me laugh the whole time.

Q. What do you think makes Cleavers: It Runs in the Family stand out in the horror genre?

As well as the amazing storyline, what I think really stands out is the father-daughter bond that is created between Cleaver and Mary-Beth. You can see how much she loves her daddy and is more than happy to follow in his footsteps. It creates a unique atmosphere that can’t be found in other films which is engaging for the audience as it’s something unexpected they will have not seen before.

Q. Do you have any other projects which you are currently working on?

Away from horror which I love, I also have a passion for Musical Theatre. My theatre school HAPA are putting on our own performance of Camp Rock so I am working on my lines and choreography for dances for that. However probably more importantly, or so my mum would think, are my GCSE exams in May so I am focusing a lot on them with plenty of revision. However, in the future I am hoping I will get the opportunity to be a part of more films, I really enjoyed the whole experience of filming in both the first and second Cleaver and would love to continue to grow and learn as an actress.

Q. What advice would you give to someone who is looking to get into acting?

I would say the main things you need are passion and persistence. It’s hard work and long days, but the vibe on set is amazing and well worth it. MJ is so brilliant, kind and patient, I might just have been spoilt!

You can find out more about the feature films playing at Horror-on-Sea Film Festival and details of tickets on the website.

Philip Rogers

Philip Rogers

Published in various websites, Philip is a reviewer who is best known for his interviews and media coverage of independent projects including; films, books, theatre and live events. Always on the lookout for something different to cover!