Women in Horror Film Festival 2018!

The Women in Horror Film Festival for 2018 recently took place in Peachtree City, Georgia. From October 4-7, talented filmmakers from around the world gathered to celebrate women in film and horror.

I had the pleasure of being able to attend the festival this year. My films weren’t being featured, but after seeing how wonderful the festival was for 2017, I knew I needed to be a part of it.

The festival kicked off on Thursday night with a cocktail hour and VIP party for the filmmakers. Since I had purchased a VIP pass, I was able to attend these events. I got to speak with several filmmakers from around the country. I made at least one connection. It was a good time.

There were a lot of fun things about this first night. For one, the venue’s bar had a fun themed drink that had a syringe of “blood” to push into it. That was the talk of the cocktail hour and got a lot of us into the mood. This was also the night where filmmakers could have their pictures taken on the “Dead Carpet”. I absolutely had to get in on that.

I wasn’t able to stay at the party for too long because I had a long day of film watching ahead of me. This was okay though because it was a moment for the filmmakers in the festival, not for me.

The next three days consisted of nonstop film watching for me. This festival had one screen and each film was shown once. Nothing overlapped, so I never had to make a hard decision about what film to see and what film to skip. I also needed to make sure that I made time for stuff like eating. That was the biggest hurdle to cross.

On the first day of film viewing, I ended up having to leave the auditorium to get something to eat. This caused me to miss a feature film and the first film of the science fiction block. That was a big bummer for me because everything before and after that was fantastic!

For the bulk of this review, I’m just going to mention the films by name. I will include some more information about the films I mention at the end of this post.

Day 1 consisted of experimental shorts, horror comedy shorts, science fiction shorts, international short films, and the macabre shorts, plus two feature films. There were so many stand outs on that first day!

Pretty much every horror comedy was a hit for me, especially Lunch Ladies, Z-Stuy, Bitten, and What Metal Girls Are Into. I really enjoyed Quiver and Asian Girls from the experimental block. From the science fiction shorts, I was really taken by Pulsar and Girl in the Galactic Sun. For international shorts, Catcalls had me really excited, and Devórame was phenomenal.

The day ended with the macabre shorts which was much closer to my own style of filmmaking. There were so many stand outs for me there. Goodnight Gracie was a great gut punch to start the block. Cecilia, Light as a Feather, and Keep the Gaslight Burning also found their way into my subconscious.

Other than the feature I’m still sad I missed, the first day of screenings also featured the global premiere of another feature film, Bugs: A Trilogy. I really liked Bugs. It was an anthology of three different stories that were all connected by a hard hitting theme and bugs. It gave me some much needed inspiration for one of my own ideas for my future work.

When it came to day 2, I had learned my lesson. We came with food and drinks ahead of time so we wouldn’t have to miss anything. This day was going to consist of panels, psychological horror and thriller shorts, as well as two feature films that I really wanted to see. I didn’t want to miss a single thing.

From the psychological shorts, stand outs included Heartless, Blood Runs Down, and For Old Times Sake. From the thrillers, I loved Consent and Lady Hunters, with an honorable mention for The After Party as well for an intriguing concept and a nice noir look.

The feature films for the day included All the Creatures Were Stirring and Echoes of Fear. All the Creatures Were Stirring was an interesting holiday themed anthology. I got a good kick out of it. Echoes of Fear was also really interesting, and it really got the audience going with carefully crafted jump scares.

I really enjoyed the panel experiences on this day as well. The first was From Indie to Studio, featuring experienced industry insiders. That panel provided some hard truths while also inspiring indie filmmakers to keep on keeping on. The second panel was about Diversity and Visibility, and it was a joy to be a part of. The entire room was involved in a discussion about the need for proper representation in film. As an advocate for this same thing, it was nice to be involved in a discussion that featured no condescension at the concept.

On top of all of this, whenever there were filmmakers present, there was a Q&A. As a filmmaker who has taken part in question and answer time with viewers before, I know it can be such a rewarding experience for both the creatives and the audience. A lot of these Q&As had amazing turn outs.

The final day of screenings was another long one, but I came prepared again! It worked out well the day before. This day included another feature film and several short blocks, including student shorts, local shorts from southern filmmakers, animation, and body horror shorts.

For the student shorts, I really enjoyed The Last Seance and Instinct. The Last Seance had me hooked, and I thought it was really well done. Instinct was just phenomenal. That’s a stand out for sure. The southern block featured several great ones. I really liked Feast and Hinterland. Those were really memorable to me. I’m not a huge fan of body horror, so not too many of those were my cup of tea, but Entropia was interesting enough for me to mention.

Overall, the whole festival was phenomenal. The atmosphere was extremely welcoming. All of the filmmakers and movie goers were really warm, and I think everyone went home with new friends and connections. It was a great event. I’m really hoping to get out there for it again next year. I’m definitely hoping to have one of my films shown there at some point.

More information on the films I mentioned:

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3:03 at Stormy Weather Horror Fest

It is a pleasure and an honor to announce that my short film 3:03 was selected as a semi finalist for Outstanding Female Filmmaker at Stormy Weather Horror Fest Summer 2017.

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It really is an honor to have been nominated as a semi finalist. There were a lot of great horror films in this competition, and to be considered on the same level as the other semi finalists is really just the best feeling. It’s hard to really put it into words. It’s just really nice.

Thank you to the people behind Stormy Weather Horror Fest for watching and appreciating my work. Thanks again to the cast and crew of my short film for sticking by me and helping me out so much. Thank you everyone who has taken the time to view my work and share in the experience.

If you have yet to see my short film, 3:03, you can view it below.

Submitting to Lunafest

At this point, I’m no stranger to submitting to film festivals. I’m no stranger to being denied at them either. I’ve talked about no longer submitting my current films to festivals and moving on to make new projects, but yesterday I decided to submit to Lunafest.

I didn’t submit both films. Lunafest requires submitted films to be 20 minutes and under. Lights didn’t meet this qualification, but ms and me did, so ms and me is the film that I submitted.

I was definitely a little hesitant about this. So far, ms and me hasn’t faired well in the festival circuit. Other than its success at the Borealis Film Festival in April 2015, it’s been denied at the festivals I’ve submitted to. Since festivals hardly ever give feedback, I’m not sure why this is. I’ve been starting to think that maybe my message doesn’t connect with viewers.

Despite this, I really wanted to take the chance to submit to Lunafest. Way back when I finished these films, one of my professors told me that it would be a good idea to try submitting my films to festivals for women. He had said it would be a good way to show my work and break onto the scene. Lunafest is a festival for women, so I didn’t want to pass up a chance to at least try submitting to a female festival.

The notification date isn’t until the end of July for this festival, so it will be a while before I hear anything back. I’ll continue working on my next project in the meantime, and may even start work on one after that. It keeps going. I can’t stay in 2015 forever.

No-Go at Reality Bytes

Back in February, I submitted ms and me to the Reality Bytes film festival at NIU. This festival had been recommended to me by teachers at my university where I produced both ms and me and Lights. The Reality Bytes festival is strictly limited to student work, so my professors felt that my films would do well there. ms and me was the only film submitted because Lights was too long by about five minutes.

The notification date for this festival was set to be April 1st, but I received an earlier response (which I definitely appreciate). Unfortunately, my notification wasn’t a positive one. I was notified on March 28th that ms and me was not selected to be in the Reality Bytes film festival for 2016.

I can’t help but be bummed out when I get messages like that, but it’s not entirely new. It stings a bit more than normal with ms and me because the film is so personal to me, but there is every possibility that my personal connection to the film doesn’t connect well with people who don’t know me. I’ve been reassured several times by people that the message does come through in the film, but I can’t seem to shake the feeling that it doesn’t.

While I’m no stranger to being denied at festivals, this is definitely a humbling moment after having such success at the Geneva Film Festival earlier this month. It reminds me that I still have work to do on my professional journey. I’m not yet where I’m meant to be. I still have learning to do and experience to gain.

This does remind me that it may be time to start winding down with promotion of these films. Both Lights and ms and me were complete in April of 2015, and we’re gradually approaching the one year mark since then. With money being so tight for festival submission fees, it will soon be time to start working on something new.

Lights – Post GFF

I mentioned in my last post about the Geneva Film Festival that our visual effects in Lights didn’t translate well over the projectors.

While I was struggling to watch my performance in the film, our visual effects artist was having a hard time of his own while watching. The level of brightness on the projectors showed a lot of things that would have been better not shown. Outlines and visible masks definitely rid the film of its wonder.

Since we worked on the original edit a year ago, we’ve acquired more experience and editing tools. As soon as the festival ended, our visual effects artist was determined to go back and see if he could revisit his work with these new items.

As of last night, he’s updated at least two of the areas that bothered him. It’s highly likely that he’ll continue to look through the film to see if he can update anything else. This updated version will then be sent to any future film festivals we submit to, and I’ll see if I can update the online version of the film to the updated version as well.

This isn’t usually how I go about things. Normally, I would rather move forward and do better on the next project, but I understand where the visual effects artist is coming from. Since this is his most recent work in visual effects, he wants it to accurately depict what he’s capable of. It makes sense.

Our next goal is to submit to the Naperville International Film Festival by the final deadline.

Accepted to Geneva!

Way back in August or September, I mentioned that I had submitted my short films Lights and ms and me to the Geneva Film Festival. The notification date for this festival finally arrived, and I’m pleased to announce that Lights has been selected in the student shorts category!

I’m incredibly overjoyed. When I received the notification, I immediately started calling the cast and crew involved, and my mother of course. I was pacing back and forth with a flood of energy, and I couldn’t wipe the smile off of my face.

Honestly, this acceptance couldn’t have come at a better time. My experience with festivals hasn’t been the best, as many of you will remember me stating in previous posts. I was at the point where I was just giving up. I started telling myself that I just wasn’t at the point in my career where I was good enough.

While I’m still humbled by the festivals that didn’t accept my work, I definitely feel rejuvenated by this opportunity. It gave me the energy to continue trying when all other signs were telling me to cut my losses. I’m very grateful for this.

I’m sure I’ll be updating with any other information that comes my way. For now, I’m just amazed by the opportunity that I have before me and the experience that it will help me gain.

This is a wonderful way to start 2016, and I hope it is a sign of other things this year will bring.

Sundance and Doritos

Well, it’s been a weekend of rejection, folks. It’s unfortunate that my first post about work in a while has to be the bearer of bad news, but it is an update, so I must report.

We have been officially notified that neither Lights or ms and me was selected to be shown at the Sundance Film Festival this year. I’m not entirely surprised by this notification. Having our films in Sundance was a distant dream, and the chances were very slim.

In the email we received, it was said that the festival received over 9,000 submissions, just for short films. They could select only a few, less than 1% of the total submissions. The odds were definitely not in our favor.

This is definitely a bummer. So far, our track record with festivals isn’t the greatest. We’re still waiting to hear back from the Geneva Film Festival, and we’ll receive a decision from them by the end of the month. Hopefully, since this particular festival is local, we’ll have better luck.

As I’ve mentioned before, this is a pretty large chunk of cash we’ve been dropping on submission fees for these festivals. It’s going to come time for us to decide whether to keep pushing with one or both of these films, or to cut our losses and move on to the next project.

In addition to the rejection from Sundance, it has also become apparent that ‘Crave From the Grave’ was not selected for the top 50 submissions in the Doritos Crash the Super Bowl Contest. While we received no official notification of this, the Doritos website has updated to include the apparent semi-finalists.

Once again, I’m not entirely surprised by this outcome. This was also a very steep competition, and while I am proud of the commercial we came up with, there were definitely other submissions that fit the Doritos particular brand of humor better.

Nonetheless, it still would have been pretty neat to make it in to the semi-finals. Winning the competition was a long shot, but top 50 would have been pretty great.

In case you didn’t see Crave From the Grave while it was in the competition, I’ve uploaded it for sharing so you can see it now.

As usual, I will continue to update this blog with anything that occurs with my work, whether that be with my current projects or future projects. Even if I’m absent for a while, please know that I’m still around, chugging down the path slowly, but surely.