PFFF 2010

MADCAP Theaters
730 S. Mill Avenue, Tempe
Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

It’s somewhat appropriate that one of our shorts was entitled Three Days Later and was about Jesus returning from the dead. For, three days after the festival, we too have returned from the dead, having spent the intervening time a) sleeping and b) nursing the aches caused by things like, oh, lugging 25 cases of Pabst Blue Ribbon into the MADCAP Theaters and up to the concession stand. We can recommend the Film Festival Diet: all you consume is bottled water, while running around like a gazelle for 19 hours straight…

Jim prepares to rise from the dead for another screening. [Pic by Scooter Harris]

We’ve now passed through the “Thank heavens that’s over” phase, and are in a happier place, where we can look back on what we think was a very successful festival. It’s hard for us to tell, since we were in the middle of the tsunami, but the feedback we have got has been thoroughly encouraging. Of course, there’s always things we feel we could improve – if there wasn’t, we’d give up, having reached festival perfection! But let’s just run through some of the things which stuck in our mind.

The MADCAP Theaters was a great venue. The location couldn’t have been better, and the concession area was converted into a bazaar of stores, artists and film-makers. Indeed, “bazaar” is the right word for the impromptu belly-dancing exhibition which broke out later in the evening. Add in a zombie fashion show, the Thrill the World dancers, Chase Archer’s juggling, make-up demonstrations, and there was always something going on, backed for the majority of the day by an ambient soundtrack from Italian musician, Mauro Fogli.

Some of our minions, in playful mood… We’ll soon beat that out of ‘em!

There’s nothing quite like 35mm. While we winced when we got the shipping bill for the print of SexyKiller [couriered overnight from Spain!], it looked really good on the big screen. We want to try and make a 35mm screening a regular focus of future events, though hope to avoid the nasty, sinking feeling experienced when we couldn’t get the projector started. That was the longest five minutes of our life, until we found the little switch that was down, when it should have been up…

Speaking of technical glitches. Apologies to Devi Snively for the aspect ratio issues which affected the start of Trippin’. That’s an area in which we have vowed to improve on next year, but she took it with…well, far better grace than we would have at our world premiere! [And please check out Devi's blog on the event, for an fascinating view of the screening and the festival, from a film-maker's perspective.]

Some of the Trippin’ posse enjoy a nice PBR.

The Q+As with the film-makers. Great to have most of the feature directors there (Trippin’ and Roman’s Bride were particularly well-represented, with additional cast and crew) and the lively discussions which followed the screenings were a lot of fun. Dan (Shellter) Donley in particular, pretty much took over running his own event, but it was clear with all of the film-makers, how much they enjoyed talking about their work. That continued in the foyer afterwards: the Roman’s Bride team hardly left there all day (apart from when their film was screening!), with star Anne Paul adding a touch of Hollywood glamor to proceedings.

Damn, that was a big Bookman’s basket. We certainly appreciated their generosity for the raffle, and also that of all our other sponsors, from Brain Damage through the New Times and Pabst Blue Ribbon, and the sterling, disturbing efforts of Bill Ward whose make-up work (below) could be seen roaming the theater, on volunteers, staff and anyone else who stayed still near his table for more than a few seconds. He then mutated into one of the tribal drummers later in the evening: clearly a man of many skills! Oh, if anyone fancies a festival T-shirt or tote-bag, Evermore Nevermore took the leftovers and will be selling them in their store in Mesa.

Zombie in progress…

Thank heavens for the volunteers. It definitely made things a lot easier, having our “minions”, who we could dispatch to collect ballots, sell merchandise, clean up the theater, operate the projector and a million and one other tasks. Especial credit to Kyle, who arrived the same time we did, before 9am, and was our sole slave for about the next three hours. Very sensible of the others to opt for the later shifts, when the heavy lifting had largely been done! But their efforts are very much appreciated, and without them, things would certainly have run less smoothly.

And while we’re thanking people… Andrea a.k.a. the Midnight Movie Mamacita and the MADCAP workers, Scooter Harris for the logos, Darren Ramage of Brain Damage Films, musical guests Thunderstump and Fancy Pants, DJ Private and his crew for running the sound, Vyle Grayvs for the loan of her hearse (or at least, one of them!) to park outside, the Republic for their marvellous article promoting the event, the vendors, all the film-makers, cast and crew, and everyone who showed up at the event. We hope you enjoyed the day as much as we did.

Anne and Michael Paul enjoy their moment in the spotlight

The voting for the Audience Favorite award was very close. And I mean, very. By the time all the responses has been tallied, there was less than one-half of a star between the top seven selections, with Roman’s Bride just coming out on top, making their trip from Iowa all the more worthwhile. But the interesting thing was, every film eligible for balloting got the complete range of scores, from zero to five stars. Those who think the horror genre is all one homogeneous lump, should take note of this wide range of opinions and views, even among fans of the genre.

The final awards. It’s a cliche, but we could have given every film a prize, as they all had something to offer. That’s largely why the judges expanded beyond the original trio of Best Feature, Best Short and Audience Favorite, with honorable mentions to a number of films, both features and shorts – we think it’s something that will likely continue in future events. Still, three film-makers got to take home sharp, pointy trophies – and for the first time, all three winners were in attendance, which was a great relief, because lovely though our hand-crafted awards are, they are real tricky to post! As you should know by now, Best Short went to John Francis Conway III for Blockhead and Best Feature to Dan Donley for Shellter.

Dan Donley, winner of Best Feature, with Brain Damage

Roll on next time! At this point, we’re not sure when that will be – we’ve done January, August and December, so only nine months left to complete the set! We did quite like being at the start of the year, as there definitely seems a dearth of horror festivals at that point. [October... It's vastly over-rated...] As soon as we’ve worked out where and when, we’ll be updating you here – we may also work on expanding the content a bit, adding a blog with movie reviews, that kind of thing. So please stay tuned to the site, for the first word on PFFF 4 – here’s to it being even more successful than PFFF 3.

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