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Grease Paint Debuts in Lawrenceville at the Aurora Theatre


Grease Paint Debuts in Lawrenceville at the Aurora Theatre

Lawrenceville — Local film director Daniel Espeut, along with his volunteer camera crew, travelled on the road throughout the United States following Nojoe's Circus, the only circus based out of Georgia, and created his self-funded, feature-length debut documentary, "GreasePaint."

Tyler "Toot" Thurmond juggles fire while his father, Joey "Nojoe" Thurmond, cheers for him.  Photo by Greg Gimpelevich

“I never thought my first film would be a documentary,” said Mr Espeut. “It was a financial risk I was willing to take.”

The film follows Joey Thurmond, his wife Jamie, his son Tyler and a 5th-generation circus performer from Columbia, Hernan Colonia, who perform in a three-ring circus, traveling to various fair and festivals in the United States. Joey is not only the first generation in his family to perform in a circus, but they travel around the country performing in a circus that is centered around the art of American circus clowning.

The movie shows the real story about the dying art of clowning demonstrated by Joey’s love for the craft and combats the negative stereotypes that some people tend to have about clowns. The audience gets a glimpse into Joey and his family’s journeys on the road and their ability to balance business and personal life. The viewer also gets to hear from other famous circus performers and clown hall-of-famers, including Michael “Coco” Polakovs, the clown who helped the McDonald’s Corporation develop their famous clown mascot, Ronald McDonald.

The title of the documentary, “GreasePaint,” was chosen because it needed to be short and inticing, Espeut said. He knew that, being a first-time filmmaker, the film needed a title that was easy to remember, but it also had to speak to two different audiences.

“When I first thought about the type of theatrical makeup that clowns use, ‘greasepaint’ just sounded like a word that had undertones of working hard at your job,” he said. “Dedication to your job and working hard for your family is something that relates to everyone and it’s a term that is familiar to clown and circus fans.”

Espeut funded this 3-year production completely from his own income.

“Ironically, I learned, while watching another documentary, that a filmmaker isn’t really supposed to use his own money to make a film,” he said. The first-time filmmaker figured this story was to good to pass up and couldn’t have been made at a better time with circus entertainment growing in popularity. He also thought that this would be a great contribution to the mostly unwritten history of American circus clowning.

“I think this will help the current and future clowns of the world become better entertainers,” he said. “Being an entertainer myself, I actually learned a lot of techniques that I could use to build a better show for our business.”

Mr. Espeut is also a well-known disc jockey in Gwinnett County and has traveled all over the southeast performing at weddings, corporate functions, school events and fundraisers.

“GreasePaint” will be screening at the Aurora Theatre in Lawrenceville, GA. at 6 p.m. on September 15th and at 6 p.m. on September 19th at Collins Hill High School Theater. Lawrenceville Mayor Judy Jordan Johnson will be in attendance at the Aurora Theatre screening.

“It gives me extreme joy to see someone realize their dream,” said Lawrenceville Mayor Johnson. She is also happy to hear that the local businesses have rallied behind Mr. Espeut’s efforts in getting the word out to the community. “Good communities are ones where people embrace each other and work together,” she said. “When people come to attend events in our community, everyone benefits.” People come and shop at the local stores and eat at the local restaurants before and after events like this one, which stimulates the local economy.

Mr. Espeut graduated from Collins Hill High School in 2004. By his senior year, he had produced six AECT International Student Media Festival award-winning videos. He was also a member of the German Honors Society and received a German media internship scholarship with ZDF, the largest television station in Germany, through the American Association of Teachers of German.

The documentary “GreasePaint” will be shown at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 15th at the Aurora Theatre, 128 E. Pike St., Lawrenceville, GA. and at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 19th at Collins Hill High School, 50 Taylor Road, Suwanee, GA.

Tickets are available at the door on each premiere night or at
For more information about “GreasePaint,” view the trailers at You can also follow the film on Facebook and Twitter @GreasePaintFilm.