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Dunk Tank Clowns

Still from ‘Dunk Tank Clowns,’ a documentary by Daniel McGuire

Daniel McGuire’s documentary short ‘Dunk Tank Clowns’ premieres this weekend at Boston’s Independent Film Festival. “I’m too old for this. I’m glad you came here,” says seasoned clown Kenny Dickman in the trailer. “I’m on my first annual retirement tour. We’re politically incorrect.”

So true. Have you noticed the bozos have disappeared from Coney Island as well as New York City’s street fairs? In 2011, Drown the Clown, which we last photographed in 2009, was banished from Little Italy’s Feast of San Gennaro for being “too raucous” in the increasingly gentrified neighborhood. In Coney Island, the last photos we took were before the Coney Island Rezoning of 2009, which made way for restaurants, retail and condominium development.

Insulting people for a living isn’t as easy as it looks, according to the film’s synopsis. The documentary offers an inside look at the profession by longtime carnival bozos Terry Leonard and Tom Miller, who are seen working fairs in Massachusetts, and Dickman, whose territory is Pennyslvania and was with S & S Amusements the season that we toured with the show. Carnival days!

‘Dunk Tank Clowns’ screens at the Somerville Theatre on Saturday at 10:00pm and Monday at 7:15pm.

Related posts on ATZ…

December 1, 2014: Autumn Reading: Ward Hall – King of the Sideshow!

September 17, 2014: ATZ’s Top 10 Coney Island Film Festival Picks

October 6, 2013: Video of the Day: The Down Home Daredevils

December 8, 2012: Sunday Matinee: Princess Rajah’s Chair Dance (1904)

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Mr. Robot

Notices on Surf Avenue say that Mr. Robot is shooting on Surf Avenue in Coney Island on Tuesday. April 18, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

USA Network’s Mr. Robot, a hacker drama starring Christian Slater, which premieres on June 24, will be filming in Coney Island again on Tuesday. Casting notices say they’ll be shooting exteriors all day. Last October, scenes for the pilot were shot in Wonder Wheel Park.

In the thrilling new trailer for the show, you’ll catch a glimpse of Slater riding in one of the Wheel’s cars with Elliot (Rami Malek), a cybersecurity engineer by day and vigilante hacker by night. Slater’s Mr. Robot is the mysterious leader of an underground hacker group trying to recruit Elliot to destroy the firm he is paid to protect. “What if you could set in motion the single biggest incident of wealth redistribution in history?” Slater asks him as they whirl in the sky over Coney Island.

Last Month, Mr. Robot won the SXSW Audience Award. On April 26, the Tribeca Film Festival will have an advance screening of the pilot episode.

Related posts on ATZ…

March 6, 2014: Tribeca Film Fest to Premiere ‘Famous Nathan’ Doc by Grandson Lloyd Handwerker

September 17, 2013: ATZ’s Top 10 Coney Island Film Festival Picks

December 28, 2012: Amusing the Zillion’s Top 10 Coney Island Videos of 2012

Movember 15, 2012: Zipper: Coney Island Documentary Debuts at DOC NYC

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This 16-minute documentary by Mike Edwards and newly posted on YouTube was made in 1977 to celebrate the Cyclone’s 50th anniversary. It’s fantastic to see the roller coaster in action in the ’70s. The opening sequence features Silvio Pinto, whose family bought and began operating the roller coaster in 1959 before selling it to the City a decade later. The film also stars famed riders Mike Boodley, who rode the Cyclone for 1001 consecutive rides, and Richard Rodriguez, who holds the Guinness World Record for riding the coaster continuously for four days. At the time the film was made, Edwards was a college student in Staten Island. His film was nominated for his school’s “Oscars” and toured NYC Parks with the Parks Foundation’s Filmobile.

As a boy born and raised on three of the 5 boroughs of NYC from 1951 to 1979, a summertime trip to Coney Island was always in the mix. I remember the day while confined to Steeplechase Park, (the grandest kiddie amusement park ever!), when my gaze became transfixed on the world class wooden roller coasters that thundered and squealed off in the distance. I couldn’t wait for the day when I was old enough and big enough to ride these coasters. I measured myself by first getting comfortable riding the Thunderbolt and then the Tornado roller coasters before I felt ready for the Cyclone.

Fast forward to 1977 when I chose the Cyclone to be the subject of a documentary film exercise while attending the very fine Richmond College, an experimental humanities school in the CUNY system, where I was to receive a BA in Cinema Studies. With either a wind-up Bolex 16 or a Bell & Howell Filmo 16mm camera and a 100’ spool of reversal film, I went to visit my subject while under a blanket of snow. Like coming upon a hibernating beast, I kept my distance shooting wide shots without a footprint. Aided by the calm of this early Sunday morning, I could feel a life-force at rest, knowing what was expected of it and what was to unfold in the early spring months. Right there on Surf Avenue, I knew my documentary project would be to explore and maybe expose that this mechanical, inanimate object is actually a being with a distinct personality.

Related posts on ATZ…

September 22, 2012: Saturday Matinee: Coney Island’s Mite Mouse Coaster (1992)

April 21, 2012: Saturday Matinee: A Switchback Railway (1898)

March 10, 2011: Video: Seasons of the Cyclone Roller Coaster by Charles Denson

January 5, 2011: ATZ Saturday Matinee: Shorty at Coney Island

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