Monday, October 8, 2018

Vancouver Horror Show Seeks Shorts

The Vancouver Horror Show will hold its first annual screening this October 23, at the Cinematheque Theatre in downtown Vancouver. Twelve shorts, no features.

Yes, that's right. VHS is a "shorts only" festival.

"A short film is a delicate balance," say Team VHS (David Taylor and Meghan Hemingway). "It's challenging to strike the chord of simple, effective storytelling with enough twists and turns to keep us interested."

To keep them interested, horror shorts should have "a compelling story, a specific vision, engaging characters, attention to detail, and a unique voice/point of view. The film must evoke fear, dread, or unease, using tropes recognizable to an audience as something that one would want to escape if encountered in real life.

"We are open to any subgenre of horror, but are not as fond of horror intended to shock through gore and viscera at the expense of a good story. That being said, when gore and viscera enhance a story, the result can be moving, scary, and memorable."

They also advise tight editing. "I can't tell you how many films could have been exponentially better if they'd had more ruthless editing. Sometimes it is clear that a filmmaker loved a particular scene or performance, but it ultimately took away from the overall story.

"A good filmmaker needs to be highly self-reflective, and be willing to let go of things they might love, but ultimately do not serve their project. Bringing in a trusted, outside editing eye that is less personally invested about the material can be a huge benefit."

Team VHS also warn against vagueness. "There is a fine line between letting the audience come to their own conclusions, and not telling the story. Sometimes a little bit of fog is mysterious, but if it's too foggy the story suffers and the viewer is left dissatisfied and frustrated. Filmmakers should remember the story they set out to tell, and be sure that on that final cut, the narrative integrity is sound."

In addition to having a "great editor," Team VHS also advises filmmakers to obtain a "great cinematographer."

"At Vancouver Horror, we focus on a 'good film,' before a 'horror film', which lends itself to a freedom when curating. Each member of the team is encouraged to fight for their favorites. The only rule is that each film must have 'an element of horror.'

"We believe in the universality of fear and want to bring together artists from all over the world to bolster our global community and get inspired by each others' work.


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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