Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Phoenix FearCON Offers Distribution to Winning Films

Phoenix FearCON is an oddity among horror film festivals in that its first venue (in 2006) was "in a very small art gallery." It's since "grown and expanded into a film festival & horror convention," says founder and director, Chris McLennan.

Apart from the film festival, FearCON offers "celebrity guests, panel discussions, flash mobs, special effects workshops, vendors, and many sideline entertainments and activities."

* Quality Over Variety

FearCON's most recent screening featured a glut of zombie films. While McLennan says she welcomes diversity in horror, she doesn't mind any particular subgenre dominating the event, provided the films are of high quality. In this she differs from some festival directors who, for the sake of variety, will screen one great and one decent film of two different subgenres, rather than two great films of the same subgenre.

"If the film is good," says McLennan, "it doesn't matter if it's been done in quantity. We always search for quality no matter what."

* What Is Quality?

What makes for a quality horror film?

McLennen seeks "A film that is solid. A great story, with a twist or two. A character study, with believable characters. Good locations. And great cinematography. With all the technology now available, that should be easier than it used to be. Our award winners all have those qualities.

"Filmmakers who win receive a one-of-a-kind awesome trophy, made by me. [See right.]

"And a bag of swag.

"And the best part -- a contract offer from one of two major film distribution companies for domestic and international distribution of their film."

McLennan offers some additional tips on how to win one of her cool trophies.

* Horror Is International

Keep in mind that horror serves an international audience.

"We get submissions from many countries. We hope they express horror in a way that everyone can appreciate it.

"We got a film from a country that could have been great, except the filmmaker used very colloquial language, and scenes specific to that area. Anyone outside this country became lost in the film translation, and couldn't appreciate what the filmmaker was trying to express."

* Avoid Shaky Cams

"My opinion, but the hand-held, shaky cam is old and worn out. I can't watch shaky cam at all anymore. I'd stay away from that, if possible."

* Continuity Matters

"I am a complete anal critic of continuity. Once there's a break in continuity (e.g., clothing, location, food, etc.) I tune out the rest of the film, looking for more faults. It's a small thing, but, in my past experience as a filmmaker and producer, I took great care to make sure the continuity was spot on. Sometimes it can be nearly impossible to do, depending on the scenes. But I like to see filmmakers try hard to keep it flowing continually."


For a behind-the-scenes look at horror film festivals and the festival directors who manage them, see Horror Film Festivals and Awards. This book also includes a directory of over 200 horror film festivals, and a list of festival award winners from dozens of festivals over several decades.

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