Filming outside the frame
Shane King and Michael Butler pride themselves on being able to transform even the most “butt-ugly” child into a beauty queen. All it takes is big hair, false eyelashes, makeup contours, dye and extensions, a bridge to hide wobbly baby teeth, $1,200 for second hand dress and a winning personality.
Enter Swan Brooner, a 5-year-old kiddie-pageant start whose beauty career has been in freefall since she won the Little Miss Florida state title. Brooner’s mother, Robin, will do anything to put Swan back on the catwalk, even if it means working three jobs and borrowing heavily from her meek boyfriend and neglecting her other children.
Living Dolls: The Making of a Child Beauty Queen is a fascinating, often creepy, glimpse inside a subculture that gained unwanted notoriety with the 1996 death of JonBenet Ramsey.
Written and directed by Shari Cookson for HBO, Living Dolls is nominated for five Emmys. It’s Waiting for Guffman meets Happy, Texas – without the laughs, as newborns, toddlers and vulnerable little girls with wispy hair flirt and strut for trophies and cash prizes.
(Montreal, Quebec, Canada)
Transcribed By: S Cookson