By David R. Cohen | email@example.com
Filmmaker Carmelle Danneman is only 21, but she already has an award-winning film to her name.
“Send in the Clowns” (sendintheclownsfilm.com), the short film she wrote, directed and produced about the hardships of childhood cancer, captured the Audience Choice Award last month among the nontimed entries in the Fifty-Four Film Fest in Nashville, Tenn. (The Fifty-Four Film Fest also holds a competition which gives filmmakers only 54 hours to complete a film.)
Danneman is a 2012 graduate of Yeshiva Atlanta High School and was born and raised in Atlanta where she attended Congregation Ariel. She shot her film in Atlanta with funding from an Indiegogo campaign that Danneman spearheaded. That campaign raised $5,381, topping its $5,000 goal.
Part of those proceeds went to support a 6-year-old brain cancer patient named Fifty-Four Film Fest
Although Danneman has acted professionally since 2009, “Send in the Clowns” is the first film she has produced herself.
“When I wrote the script, I knew I would need a cast and crew,” she said. “So I posted on different casting websites, and I really didn’t think anyone would respond. When I got submissions, I almost panicked that people were trusting in me to create this film. Finally, when I got my cast and crew together, we had a production meeting with around 30 people. They came, and not all of them knew that I was a 20-year-old putting on this entire project. To this day, I’m still surprised that they all listened to me.”
Danneman directed, and they listened. “Send in the Clowns” was filmed in three days and produced over six months and had a private premiere in November.
The film focuses on 7-year-old cancer patient Sarah, who is struggling with the hardships of her day-to-day treatments until she meets Amy, the medical clown.
Danneman said the subject matter of the film was inspired by her volunteer experience as a medical clown in 2012-2013 during her gap year.
“When I was a medical clown in Israel, I saw how much it meant to the kids that somebody came,” she said. “It was really hard seeing all these kids who have cancer. I clowned specifically in the oncology department, so that atmosphere kind of inspired me to write this film.”
Danneman, who also acted in her film, is in her second year studying cinematography at Yeshiva University in New York. She said that although it is tough to balance filmmaking with her faith as an Orthodox Jew, anything is possible with enough dedication. She plans to continue acting while remaining observant.
“If you set your mind to something, it can be done,” she said.
“Send in the Clowns” is under consideration at additional film festivals in the United States, and Danneman said it will be released online soon.