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Ashley Shelton is giving big clown energy with her new film Best Clowns. And there is no better way to celebrate International Clown Week (yup, that’s this week) than with the announcement of this comedy written and directed by Shelton and starring Aerial Nicole.

The official logline is: “Two weeks away from an open call to find the nation’s best clowns, a camera crew documents the journey of an anxiety-ridden clown and her super famous clown competitor.”

Shelton stars as Ruby/Sundrop the Clown while Nicole plays Louise. The comedy also stars Robyn Lively, Thomas Lennon, Linds Edwards, Kelly Shipe, Jamie Hickman, Barrett Willingham, and Crue Smith. Best Clowns is produced by Clayne Crawford’s (Back 40 Pictures) Linds Edwards, and Shelton. Cinematographer is Oscar-nominated Curren Sheldon Executive. Massey Willingham, Bo Clancey, Curren Sheldon, and Clayne Crawford are producers. Key Makeup Artist is Tatiana Kazana and Costume Design is Amber Williams.

“We filmed Best Clowns this past May, in my hometown of Knoxville, Tenn. and are now in post production for festival season,” said Shelton. “I wrote, directed, and acted in the film alongside up and coming actors and non actors of different ethnicities and gender identities.”

She continued, “We also have some professional clowns in the film! Oscar-nominated Curren Sheldon lends his visionary genius to the whimsical world I built as cinematographer, editor and executive producer. So often we are forced into boxes and ideals that don’t ring true to our souls. I have experienced that first hand in my journey with acting and filmmaking. I have spent a lot of time pining for an idea of myself instead of discovering who I really was. Most of my work is a just metaphor for big feelings I have had in my life.”

“A big feeling I have experienced is being embarrassed of who I truly am, anxious, clumsy, messy and all. I wanted to channel that through a story with clowns. Clowns, to me, symbolize happiness and oftentimes some of the ones who appear to be the happiest are the ones struggling the most. I also have professional clowns in my family, so I grew up with a different filter of the clown world. They were a source of joy and wonderment to me. I want to bring that back and advocate for clowns, live performers, and entertainers with Best Clowns. Plus, give the world a relatable and inclusive look into the deep rich subculture of clowning through the main characters in the film. It was very important to me for my debut feature film to be inclusive. So, this piece of cinema is a love letter to being authentic. A relic you can go back to when you need to be reminded that there is only one you. And finally, I hope it gives someone the courage to love themselves just as they are. We are now in post production and I am very excited to now be in the process of bringing the world its first inclusive and uplifting movie about clowns.”

Follow @sundroptheclown and @ashley.shelton on Instagram for exclusive behind-the-scenes footage.