Our NYC Premiere!


Oh hai! We’re in NewFilmmakers NY!

First, the big news: we will have our New York City festival premiere at the NewFilmmakersNY screening series! Details:
Thursday, January 2nd, 9pm (series starts @ 6pm)
Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Ave. (@ E. 2nd St)
Price: $6 for the entire evening (includes two features and some shorts!)
Tickets/Info: www.newfilmmakers.com

We’ll be there with refreshments, drinks, and possibly some swag, so go get those seats! See you there!

Updating Your Promotional Materials… Without Losing Your Mind

This falls under the category of problems that are good to have. You get into another festival, or get a review, or one of your crew or cast wins an award/gets a great gig/etc. For whatever reason, you now have to update your promotional materials – your DVD artwork, posters, postcards, press kit, website, etc. Here are some tips that I’ve found for making that task a little easier. I’m still learning, so if you have some ideas, please feel free to email me!

  • #1: Use layers: Whether you use InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Quark, and/or even Word to put together your print materials and graphics, you want to keep the things that don’t change (like your film’s title and poster design) separate from the things that will (like your bio, the latest festival dates, etc.)
  • #2: Put your credit blocks, review quotes, and bios into text files: This was you can cut and paste them into whatever document or promo piece you need. You can also cut and paste them into emails as needed.
  • #3: Create a festival laurel leaf logo and save it as a separate file: Ideally, you should have this as a vector graphics file (so you can scale it up or down without creating artifacts), but if not, create or steal a large (5.5″ print size, 300dpi) size laurel leaf pattern, and save it as a separate file. Keep the left and right leaves in separate layers, so you can change their spacing as needed. You’ll need the laurel leaf at different resolutions and sizes; sometimes you’ll need a laurel with room for text inside, and at other times you’ll want to put the laurel together and place the text outside. I still use an ancient copy of CorelDraw for this, and found a leaf on the clipart disk. I brought it into Corel, edited the shape a bit, cloned it (for the right side), and then saved it. Then I exported it to TIFF and JPG files at different resolutions.
  • #4: Work in 300dpi and downsample: You’ll need to prepare print versions of your posters, postcards, flyers, and press kits in 300DPI, using a CMYK color scheme. Web graphics are only 72DPI, and use the RGB color scheme. It’s easier to work at the higher resolution and downsample as needed, than to either create separate versions or use the low-rez version and upsample (in fact, upsampling usually results in crummy-looking print graphics)
  • #5: Put all your EPK materials in one directory: This way you can burn the entire directory to a CD or DVD as needed, without having to think about it.
  • #6: Many small updates are better: I can tell you from many years of web and desktop application programming, that it’s better to do a lot of small updates than to try and update everything at once, but less often. You can get away with monthly updates to your blog and Tumblr site, but your Facebook page and Twitter feed should be updated on a weekly or semi-daily basis if at all possible.
  • #7: Remember the difference in blacks and whites: In the RGB colorspace, black is 000, white is 255/255/255. In CMYK, black is 75/68/67/90, white is 0/0/0/0. CMYK colors don’t always look right on the monitor, so don’t just go by eye.
  • #8: Keep a list of your fonts somewhere: If you ever have to send something to a printshop or another artist, you’ve seen this: the design you slaved on for days looks like crap because they didn’t have the font you were using. The answer is to keep a copy of the fonts you use in your designs in a folder or ZIP file somewhere, so you can send them along with your graphics files. InDesign can take care of this for you, but Word doesn’t really care.
  • #9: Make a separate file with your film’s title logo: Your film’s title is also its logo, so it MUST look consistent across all your letters, posters, postcards, presskits, etc. On Found In Time I created a type layer in Photoshop, wrote out the title in a really large size, rendered the layer, and applied a number of filters to scratch and distort the text a bit. Rather than do this over and over again for each poster/postcard/etc. design, I saved the title to a PSD file and then rendered it to a 300DPI TIFF. This way I can insert the TIFF in all my other artwork, scale it/downsample it as needed. I recommend keeping your title it black and white, simply because those are the easiest to read. You can always color it later.
  • #10: Back Up Locally There are a number of cloud-based services for storing your work, but none of them are completely foolproof. Always make sure you have a complete local backup of your work. I’ve heard too many horror stories of work disappearing to trust non-local storage completely.

Further Lessons On Distribution


First up: we’re going to Buffalo next week! Found In Time will make its New York State premiere at the Buffalo Dreams Film Festival!
WHERE: Dipson Theaters, Amherst I-III, 3500 Main St., Buffalo NY
WHEN: Tuesday, November 12th @ 4:30pm
TIX: Hit up the official website for tickets and schedule info.

So you’ve finished your film! That’s great. Got distribution! Awesome! Are you done? Nope. Not by a long shot. In today’s world, it’s incumbent on the filmmaker, not the distributor, to pull the audience in. Not that distributors have stopped doing that, exactly… rather, it’s that they really don’t have much incentive to do so for your film. They’re working with the old models, of “how do I push this onto an audience.” Their tools are casting and/or genre. The new model is “how do I pull the audience toward the film.” This is more exciting in some ways – we can, maybe, finally, kinda, sorta, get beyond the “star” mentality which, as Ted Hope predicted (back in 1995) would wreck the indie film world. But it also puts more pressure on filmmakers, many of whom (myself included) got into this field because we didn’t want to “buy, sell or process anything” but rather MAKE things that other people more skilled than us would then buy and sell and process.

This is part of the dilemma of making films in today’s world. You have to keep working on them after you’re “done.” The past year or so has been one of non-stop anxiety for me, as I’ve waited for each festival, sales agent, and distributor acceptance/rejection email. The hours that I’ve spent adding reviews to the website, updating the key art, burning screener DVDs, keeping the Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn feeds alive, and reaching out to schools, theaters, conventions, festivals, review sites, etc. is all time that I could have put toward my next project. And before you say “get an intern to do it,” what, exactly would keep an intern working on this for more than a week? While I have an overall strategy I’m still making this up as I go. I’d still have to do the research before I told said intern who/what to contact. I’d have to approve the line art. So what’s the time savings?

Also, I think it’s actually good to see a project through this stage. For one thing, you’ll learn how to reach out to audiences, how the distribution game works, and whether the film even fits where you initially thought it did. I initially thought I had a fantasy/indie art-house film on my hands, but it’s found it’s greatest success among sci-fi/horror fans and sci-fi-related film festivals. So I’m steered away from calling it a fantasy and emphasized the sci-fi aspects of the film. I’m also starting to target sci-fi conventions, meetup groups, and clubs – they’re my fan base, and I’m trying to reach out to them through event screenings and special Q&As.

I’m also building tools for the next project – an intake procedure for the dozens of business cards I end up with after each festival; a distribution/promotion database that will cut down on the time spent writing cover letters and make tracking screeners and phone calls easier; a more efficient method for producing “behind-the-scenes” clips and interviews; a tool for generating eblasts without having to hand-code everything; and so on. If you can leverage your experience on one film, then the next one will, in theory, go smoother.


A few things I’ve learned during this process:

  • It’s never too early to put your deliverables together. I should have cut the last two behind-the-scenes interviews and the DVD commentary together long before the distribution deal came through. Ditto with revising the DVD sleeve art. On the other hand, the poster art, stills, trailer, and almost everything else was just about ready to go.
  • Reach out to your peeps. Once you have a distribution deal (and it’s okay to announce it), drop an email to the folks at the festivals you played at. Let them know what’s going on. Do the same with the cast and crew. Once you have a street date, send another one. If the festivals have an email blast, ask if you can advertise in it, so people can go and buy your DVD/stream your film when it comes out.
  • Don’t wait to figure out your e-commerce site. I’m still experimenting with the right WordPress plug-in but I feel like I’ve got it down to one of three. These take time to set up and experiment with so don’t wait until after you get your first sell-through DVD shipment. People will want to buy your film right away if they can.

Well, that’s it for now. By next month, we will hopefully have a street date for Found In Time!

We Have Distribution For The Film!

Found In Time

First, the great news: Found In Time has been picked up for domestic DVD/digital distribution, by Green Apple Entertainment! Many thanks to our producer’s rep, Glen Reynolds at Circus Road Films, for working so hard and never giving up in the film.

Second, it’s time to take stock a bit and figure out what, if anything, we learned about distribution during the past year of trying to chase it down. This will be an ongoing process, since the actual distribution phase of the film has just started, but here are some initial thoughts.


When my girlfriend heard that the film had gotten a distributor, her first reaction was “that’s great.” Her second was, “so that means you can move on, right?” For better or worse, no.

Unless you’re one of the lucky contestants who win the jackpot – a decent all-rights deal with an actual advance – distribution is really the third act of the very long (melo-)drama that is the making of your film. Distributors want to make money. You probably want money too, but you also want other things – fans for your next film, a sustainable filmmaking career (whatever that means these days), and some exposure for your work. Sometimes exposure runs counter to income (as anyone traveling the festival circuit knows).

Once you have a distributor, you now have to put together your deliverables.


The last few deliverables contracts that we’ve seen (both for our film and others’) have specified that the projection master be delivered via QuickTime. Tape delivery (on HDCAM-SR, DigiBeta or other formats) has mostly gone by the wayside. This is great news, in that at least you don’t have to shell out for dubs at the point where you can least afford them.

On the other hand, it may mean that the distributor is fronting those costs through post house deals they have, which also means that they’re going add them to their list of expenses. Which means you may have to wait even longer to see any money. Find out if that’s what’s going on. Perhaps your post contacts can even outbid theirs?

Artwork is key. If you have a poster, postcard, DVD sleeve, etc. artwork, then make sure to provide them to the distributor, preferably as layered Photoshop (PSD) file. Don’t forget to include font files for any custom fonts you’ve used.

Make sure you get good stills, or know how to intelligently grab still frames from your film and resample them properly for print. Learn the difference between web-friendly and print-friendly graphics! If you don’t know this stuff and don’t have time to learn or just don’t feel confident that the results will be any good, find someone (and pay them something) to do it for you.

Get a music cue sheet from your composer! This is nothing more or less than a list of all the music cues in your film, named, with the beginning/end timecode of each. Didn’t get it from the composer? Track done your sound post folks. Is neither an option? Then it’s time to watch your film in your NLE and write down cues!

A timed dialog list is very helpful to have. That’s a list of every line of dialog as it was uttered by your actors (you’d be surprised how different it is from what you wrote), along with the timecode start/stop points. You also want to include title cards, written words on screen (like on someone’s phone), voice-overs/off-screen dialog, and even “human sounds” (laughter, grunts, etc).

This list will be used to create subtitles and dubs of your film, if you happen to get foreign distribution. It’s incredibly tedious to make these, but if you can stand to do it yourself you’ll save some bucks. Here’s an Excel template with some example lines from Found In Time to show you what one looks like.


Found In Time will be distributed on DVD and digitally. There’s no guarantee of what exact shape that distribution will take, or how long it will take to get the film out there. While that’s happening, we want to publicize the fact that it’s getting distribution, so that more people will still be interested in buying it when it’s finally available.

The best ways to do that:

  • Taking it to festivals
  • Four-walling it
  • Sending it to film critics (though this can work against you if you don’t have a “critic-friendly” film)
  • Using social media and your friends to evangelize
  • Connecting to fans
  • Personal connections (to the cast, crew, vendors, mentors, helpers, friends)

We’ve taken the film to festivals and critics, and have used Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and our monthly e-blast to get the word out. We could be doing more with social media, but honestly there aren’t enough hours in the day.

We’ve also sent out personal emails to people we know and love, letting them know about the film, and offering quid pro quo if they’ll get the word out. So if they have something going on they’d like us to publicize, we’ll be happy to do it. Not only is this good networking, it’s also a decent way to be.

One of the things we’re considering right now is whether to do some kind of limited theatrical distribution. We could use an intermediary, who will charge a service fee; or use a company like Tugg, that does ‘event-type’ screenings and doesn’t cost very much up front; or do something non-traditional. We’re considering the latter option right now. Since we made a sci-fi film, we’re reaching out to sci-fi conventions to see if they’d screen it as part of their film sidebar (if they have one).


Our strategy is evolving, and we’re still learning, about this amazing (and sometimes frustrating) game. But we’ll post more details – and of course, the street date for the DVD and streaming – soon. Until then!

Found In Time At LoneStarCon3

LoneStarCon3 Film Festival

Found In Time will next screen at the upcoming 71st LoneStarCon3, one of the largest and oldest sci-fi conventions in the U.S., down in San Antonio TX! Details:

DATES: Thursday, August 29th, 4pm
WHERE: LoneStarCon3, Marriott Rivercenter – Room 13-14
TICKETS: Hit up LoneStarCon3’s registration page for details on day/weekend passes!

ALSO: here’s a review (in French) + an interview with director Arthur Vincie, from the website Fantasticmovies: Fantasticmovies

Found In Time Hits GenCon Tomorrow


This is a busy August! The 45th GenCon starts today! Located in Indianapolis, IN, it’s the oldest and largest role-playing game convention in the U.S. And Found In Time will be playing at the Indy Film Festival event! Director Arthur Vincie will be on-hand for both screenings!

Here’s a great review from Examiner.com!

DATES: Friday, August 16th, 9pm (Ballroom #4) AND Saturday, August 17th, 2pm (Ballroom #5)
WHERE: GENCON, Westin Hotel (part of the Indianapolis Convention Center complex)
TICKETS: Hit up www.gencon.com for details on passes!

Phoenix Film Festival!

Standing under the poster at the party pavilion.

The last six months have been rather wonderful. To date, we’ve traveled to four film festivals (Shriekfest, Eerie, Nevermore, and now Phoenix/IHSFF), and each experience has been a positive one. We’ve been treated well by the organizers and staff, met some great fans and filmmakers, and seen some terrific films. Phoenix was no exception.

DAY 1:

The festival itself takes place in three separate spaces, that are part of a large (huge, actually) strip-mall. The Harkins Plaza cinema is a multiplex – and very well maintained, with good seats, tasty popcorn, and decent-sized theaters. The ticket office is located a short walk away, and the main event space – the “Party Pavillion” – is in another event hall at the mall. Several vendors and companies rented tables in the Pavillion. They also ran events and kept a bar going. On Sunday, a miniature version of the local Comic Con occupied the space. Having a central hang-out is a great thing – it lets filmmakers and audience members connect more easily, and provides some space for the occasional chill-out.


At 1pm I was on an education panel, talking to about a hundred high school students about independent filmmaking. This was a lot of fun. I had no idea what to expect. Fortunately, I was in great company – Leya Taylor, the DP and producer of Found., Alev Aydin, star/writer/producer of Lonely Boy, Ben Shelton, writer/director of Waking…, and Gerry Santos (producer) and Drew Thomas (writer/director) of Channeling. The event, organized by Bob Marquis, was really focused. The students asked some really good questions. We talked about preproduction, coming up with creative solutions to budgetary problems, and the “glory and grit” of independent filmmaking. Scott Schirmer, director of Found., recorded some of it – you can find it here.


Then it was off to see a film I’d been wanting to see since meeting Scott, Leya and some of the team down at Nevermore – Found. This film is great. Our hero is a twelve-year-old boy, who’s being bullied at school and trying hard to figure out who he is. Oh, and his older brother is a serial killer. It’s a coming of age story, a meditation on the nature of horror and sexuality, and a family drama, all wrapped up in one disturbing package. Winning performances, great cinematography, solid writing – and they made it for $8000, with a tiny crew. This film is tearing up the festival circuit, and deservedly so. It won the Best Horror Feature at Phoenix!

Then I wandered over to the Party Pavilion, met up with the great folks from Sader Ridge – and hung out with them and walked the vendor booths. There were some pretty cool folks there, setting up shop, including the Arizona Film and Media Coalition (azfilmandmedia.org), who are fighting the good fight to keep production in Arizona; the Phoenix chapter of the IFP, who are doing a great job of putting educational events together (ifpphx.org); and the local Screen Actors Guild chapter.

Sader Ridge

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to check out Sader Ridge while at the festival, but Matt Medisch (writer/producer) and Jeremy Berg (writer/director) gave me a screening copy, which I watched later. This is a really terrific film! It’s also one of the more unsettling psychological horror stories I’ve seen in a long while. When Samantha inherits a house from the family she never really knew, she takes a trip to inspect it and the surrounding property. But as soon as she arrives her memories start coming back to her – or are they hallucinations? Her friends start acting strangely – or is she witnessing normal 20-something jealousy? As her sanity starts to unravel, she has to figure out what’s real and what’s not, and where this trip down memory lane is leading her. It’s done really well, with an emphasis on building tension. The film features some really strong performances, and beautiful cinematography, music and sound design. It’s also having good luck on the festival circuit.

After checking into the hotel, freshening up a bit, and grabbing a quick bite of *delicious* Mexican at Filiberto’s, it was off to the Friday night screening of Found In Time. The film got a good reception, and the audience asked some great questions afterward.

DAY 2: Lonely Boy

I managed to drag my ass out of bed early for the 9am screening of Lonely Boy, and I was very glad I did. This is a wonderful film. Written and starring Alev Aydin, directed by Dale Fabrigar, and produced by Alev and Troy Daniel Smith, this was a beautiful portrait of Frank, a man who’s trying to date while in the middle of job, family, and psychological crises – he has schizophrenia. This film somehow threads the needle – it portrays Frank, the lonely boy, as a real human being, and not just as an object of horror, ridicule or slapstick humor. The performances, editing, music, direction – it was all totally there. Good stuff.


Suddenly it was time for Channeling, a really terrific sci-fi/thriller written/directed by Drew Thomas, and produced by Laila Ansari, Gerry Santos, Thomas, Kelly Andrea Rubin (co-producer), and Kip Brown (post producer). This is a “near-future” sci-fi film that combines a lot of different genres, and does it well. The “gimmick” is an EyeCast, a camera that works like a contact lens – it affixes itself to your eye – and livestreams what you see to the world. The more radical things you do, the larger your follower stats. A lot of eyecasters want to get sponsorship. But how far would you go to get it? When one “bad” brother is killed while EyeCasting (an accident that might really be a murder), his older sibling comes home and assumes his identity, to try and figure out who did it and why. Good performances, a really slick (in a good way) look, and a compelling story make this is a really enjoyable film.


I took a break from features to check out some shorts, and was suitably impressed. A few standouts: Life on the River, by Chris Remerowski, was terrific. On the surface it’s a gritty drama about two homeless people who end up camping out by a river, which becomes a kind of sanctuary for them. But who are they? Where did they come from? The twist is too smart to reveal here. The cast is really good and the music is haunting.

Menschen also gets a special shout-out. It was written and directed by Sarah Lotfi, whose last short The Last Bogatyr was a national finalist for the Student Academy Awards. Menschen follows an Austrian captain who’s trying to keep his remaining troops alive at the end of World War II. Desperate for shelter and recooperation, they occupy a farm. A woman and her developmentally disabled son live in the house. After a raid by partisans, the boy loses his mother. The captain, to everyone’s surprise, takes the son under his wing, and takes him with the troops. This has to be one of the most unusual World War II films I’ve ever seen, and it really works. It’s touching without being maudlin, and feels very curent despite being a period piece. And it looks damn more expensive than it cost, thanks to some very sharp technical and producing work.

After a delicious dinner at the local diner with the Found. and Sader Ridge crew, I caught Errors of the Human Body. It was a very good film, but it didn’t really draw me in. The basic idea is that a famous, but now disgraced, American cancer researcher ends up working in Germany, invited by his former grad student (and crush) to work on an exciting new tissue regeneration project. But there are other folks at the lab with less benign motives, and our hero is fighting the inner demons from his past.

After seeing the film I was able to catch up with the Channeling team a little more and talk about the film and their work. Then it was off to bed.

DAY 3: Found in Time Again and Panels

The last screening of Found In Time, at 11:55am on Sunday, sold out! The crowd was very generous and had some terrific questions. The projection was noticeably better as well – I was told later that the bulb in the other room was a bit old (it’s amazing how much of a difference these things make).

Then it was off to check out the panel discussions. First up was the “Writing Horror” panel, which featured Scott Schirmer and Leya Taylor from Found., Matt Medisch from Sader Ridge, David Pruett, director of the Dark Carnival International Film Festival, and Tara-Nicole Azarian, who at the age of fourteen has directed several award-winning horror shorts. They had some really good advice on writing horror, working on a budget, how to make it compelling and scary (instead of merely gory), and why it’s such a good genre to work in. Check out the YouTube video of the panel.

I was on a panel with Gerry Santos from Channeling and Professor Carl Varnado from Scottsdale Community College, moderated by sci-fi writer, Sci-Fi Programming director, and cool guy Mike Stackpole, on world building. This was a LOT of fun, as we dished about sci-fi films that “got it right,” those that “got it wrong,” how to build a believable world on a budget, and other topics.

There was much more to this trip – friendships started, conversations had, food eaten – but that’s all I can fit in one blog entry. The staff at the Phoenix Film Festival were just awesome, and they made us all feel very welcome. This is one of the key things about festivals – if the staff is cool, then everyone else is too. All the filmmakers I met were generous with their time, answering a ton of questions from me (where did you shoot/what did you shoot on/how long did it take you to post/etc.). I can’t say enough good things about the experience, so I’ll just stop now. Until the next festival!

To Eerie Horror Fest and Back

IMG_0519 A day on the beach at Lake Erie.

It’s been a little over a month since our last blog post, and quite a busy one at that. We wanted to touch on a few things, but just haven’t had a chance.

So let’s go back a little bit, and recap our journey to Eerie Film Festival, in lovely Erie, PA.

First there was the issue of the postcards we ordered, which we (for better or worse) had printed the Shriekfest screening date/time on. It took a few hours to print out and apply stickers to replace the Shriekfest screening time with the Eerie one. In retrospect, it would have been better to have ordered two separate 500-count postcard runs, one with the Shriekfest info and the second with the Eerie info, instead of getting the single 1000-count run. You never hand out as many cards as you think you will, and at the end of it you’re stuck with cards that have limited value.

On the other hand, we’d made multiple Blu-Rays of the film a while ago, so we didn’t have to worry about losing our only one at Shriekfest. And we’d also burned some copies of the EPK to DVD, which proved rather valuable later on.


The trip to Erie took a little more than ten hours each way. There were three of us – Arthur Vincie, DP Ben Wolf, and Arthur’s girlfriend Debarati Biswas. We had a couple of pit stops for food and bladder relief, and passed through some wonderfully scenic countryside. Of course we had to stop at the Twilight Diner on the way, for some coffee and dessert. The dessert and coffee were great; our only regret was having eaten too much at IHOP earlier, or we would have had dinner there.

Our first impressions of Erie, PA were that it was an industrial city that had seen better days. But it turns out that since it’s right by the lake, has three colleges in town, and is only an hour’s drive from Detroit, Buffalo, and Syracuse, the city has stayed afloat better than many others through tourism, culture, and education.


The festival wasn’t what I was expecting. The venue itself was magnificent – it was a classic movie theater, built during the golden age of Hollywood. It reminded me of the old RKO theater in the Bronx, where I first saw Star Wars as a kid. Even though I remember the RKO having a run-down look (it was shuttered a few years later), it still possessed a wonderful majesty to it, like a Broadway theater. The Erie theater had the same grandeur but had been maintained and restored, so it was a great place to see the film – on a truly big screen.

The screening of “Found In Time” itself was great. We had a smallish crowd, since it was early, but they made up for it with a terrific Q&A session afterwards. Big props to the folks from Slaughterfilm.com, who asked some of the best questions and then went on to do a really great podcast review of the entire festival (one ‘cast per day) and gave some nice mentions about our film as well.

We spent the afternoon munching food and beer, and hanging out with some of the folks from the fest, then went back in and saw Enchiridion, a really interesting period horror piece (it’s set in 1966), that’s hard to describe exactly. It’s about a priest who’s approached by a Federal Marshall to interview a captured vampire, and translate his “sacred” text. This leads down a lot of rather strange alleys. The film features some stop-motion animal puppetry that elevates the overall weirdness of the piece. Overall I have to say I liked the film, though I feel like it drifted a little in places.

Other films that were interesting were the shorts Lizard Girl, from South Korea, about a girl who seems to be running away from a group of horrible man-sized lizards. While this sounds bad, it’s not – it’s moody, well-shot and directed, and features some really good acting. I’m not sure if we’re supposed to take the lizards as metaphors for something else (criminals, businessmen, etc.) or straightforwardly as monsters, but they’re done well too.

We also liked the short film I Spyders, even though it might have gone on a touch too long. John is a cubicle slave who works long hours for crap pay, for Dave, an unappreciative jerk boss. Gee, I’m lucky I’ve never had a job like that. The one time Dave does something nice for John is when he offers him some grapes; however, a spider, hitching a ride to said grapes, climbs into John’s head. John is possessed by the multiplying spiders, but tries to manage his job until he gets his bonus, and keep from killing Dave.

The Mexican short film Shhhh might be the slickest film we saw. On the surface it’s a monster film, with a boy who’s afraid of an “imaginary monster” that of course is quite real. But the real monster is his sister, who bullies him about his “childish fears.” Until… well, it’s a great film so go catch it if you can.

There was a really good feature documentary that screened just before our film, Cryptotrip, which I started out being quite afraid of and ended up liking immensely. It’s a portrait of people who believe in and/or have seen strange creatures such as Big Foot, Loch Ness, and others (the title is a reference to cryptozoology). I was afraid the doc was going to treat these people as stupid or crass, or sensationalize the subject, but it actually takes their stories and research seriously. By and large they emerge as healthy, smart folks, who have found something that they can’t explain and have tried to cope with it constructively.


A cool building in Erie, PA

A cool building in Erie, PA

The screenings were the main, but not the only, attraction, of the festival. The lobby (which was huge) was filled with folks selling horror/fantasy/sci-fi themed t-shirts, videos, music, and jewelry. There were also some special guests from years past (including a good chunk of the crew and cast from Romero’s Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead) who were selling photos and autographs. We actually spoke with the lighting director from Night of the Living Dead, Joe Unitas, who was a really cool guy. He ended up staying for the screening and told Ben he liked the film. But this wasn’t a crass commercial enterprise – everyone who was there was really interested in connecting with other fans, talking about the local film scene, and just enjoying the films.

One of the standout vendors is PoetJoe Gallagher, who’s a poet, performance artist, and cool guy. He was selling t-shirts that featured roadkill on them, captioned with brief poems. While this sounds gross, it’s not – the animals are not treated as mere objects but as real creatures, who lost their lives tragically. The poems are like an ode to their spirit. His work, in a way, mirrors that of the festival in particular and of horror in general – there is a way of looking at the darker, more mysterious side of life that is neither exploitative nor condescending.


Unfortunately, with a ten-hour trip ahead of us, we had to leave before seeing too much of the fun Sunday. We stopped in to say our goodbyes, dipped our toes in the lake (which was surprisingly warm for mid-October) and headed home. We stopped off at a couple of places on the way, including The Angelica Sweet Shop in Angelica, NY. Really good sweets and nice peeps.

Many thanks to the staff and volunteers. We had a great time and you ran a great festival! And it was great meeting so many filmmakers, fans, and artists. We’re definitely going to go back next year if we can – it was a lot of fun and it’s a great area. Arthur’s also thinking about shooting his next script there. Stay tuned for more news, and happy Holidays!

To Shriekfest And Back

mina_macleodMacLeod Andrews (Chris) and Mina Vesper Gokal (Ayana) at the 2012 Shriekfest world premiere screening of the film.

The past few weeks have been a bit hectic, to say the least. We hit Shriekfest in October, armed with business cards, postcards, posters, press kits burned to DVD, and hope. What a fantastic time!

BTW: This is when getting your shit together – website, business cards, poster art, postcards, DVDs, presskits, etc. – really pays off. If you have your materials together ahead of time, getting things to the printer and/or festival on time shouldn’t be too difficult or expensive. If you have to prepare everything at the last minute, expect to bleed sweat, tears and money.

Here are some highlights and observations on Shriekfest:


We saw three days of great features and shorts. Friday night was predominantly a horror evening. The standout performance was Marta Milans’ in Devoured (dir. Greg Olliver). The film itself is pretty cool – not about cannibalism (in case you were wondering) but about a mother who’s trying to save money for her son’s operation, while working a tough job cleaning up at a restaurant, and staving off creepy guys, difficult bosses, and a lot of fear.

I confess I didn’t catch all of day 2’s films because I went out with MacLeod Andrews, his parents Jack and Matilda, and his awesome friends for dinner (thanks to MacLeod for organizing this). There were some really fun shorts – Blackout (dir. James Bushe) is about a group of safecrackers who take advantage of an alien-caused blackout to rob what looks like an antiquities warehouse. But they get more than they bargained for. It manages to be scary and funny at the same time.

She’s Having a Baby (dir. Chris and Robert Smellin) and Stay At Home Dad (dir. Andrew Kasch and John Skipp) were both pregnancy-themed shorts. She’s Having a Baby is about a woman who decides to kidnap men and use them as sperm donors. Stay at Home Dad is about a dad who decides to undergo an experimental breast implant treatment so he can stay at home and feed his daughter while mom goes off to work. Both are funny, while also highlighting just how terrifying parenthood (and children) can be.

The Sleepover (dir. Chris Cullari) was based around a wonderfully zany idea: is the baby sitter making it all up about the monsters under the bed, or is she for real? Two kids are about to find out at their first sleepover.

On the flipside, Survivor Type (dir. Billy Hanson), based on a Stephen King short story, has to be one of the most squirm-inducing films I’ve seen in a while. A successful, come-from-humble-origins surgeon, with a nice side heroin dealing side business, has landed on a tiny, barren island following a cruise-ship disaster. He has a couple of sharp utility knives, water, and some assorted items in his pack – but no food. What do you eat when the only consistent food source is – yourself? Yup… it’s told in video diary format, which is, finally, perfectly organic to the story AND the character.

DAY 3:

More shorts! Firelight (dir. Simon Brown) stood out. It’s about a post-apocalyptic landscape where aliens hunt by night, and human scavengers hunt each other by day. It’s notable for conveying the apocalypse in a very believable, smart way, on a tight budget.

In fact, that’s something I have to say about ALL the films I saw – everyone squeezed the last drop out of every dollar spent. Budding indie filmmakers should go to Shriekfest just to study how to do good stuff on a shoestring.

Another standout was the Poe adaptation The Tell-Tale Heart (dir. Bart Mastronardi), which updates the classic story to a mid-50s setting, switches genders around, and manages to convey the poetic soul of the story while being its own creation.

And of course, as a Star Wars fanboy (of the good ones), I have to give props to A Light In The Darkness (dir. Fed Wetherbee), which is better by far than anything George Lucas has done since Return of the Jedi. Set on a small mining colony that’s coming under the Imperial thumb following the assassination of the Jedi, the story follows a young boy who grows up believing that if he can just shine the right light, the distant rebellion will take notice and lend a helping hand.


Last Kind Words (dir. Kevin Barker) was really interesting. It’s a ghost story that has real heart, about a teenager who moves with his down-on-their-luck family back to their family farm (now owned by a hard-to-read family relation, played wonderfully by Brad Dourif). There he falls in love with a neighbor girl – or is she someone/something else? It’s tender, has a great sense of location, is well-acted, and moves in ways you don’t expect it to.

Nailbiter (dir. Patrick Rea) also took me by surprise. It’s a family drama, framed by a disaster, stuffed in the middle of a monster movie. A mom and her three daughters, all going through some tough issues, brave a tornado to meet dad when he comes back from Iraq. But they have to flee to shelter in the basement of a house, whose owners are… something unexpected. If this sounds ambitious, it is, but the film succeeds overall with winning performances, good writing, and people doing smart things (as opposed to splitting up/wandering off/running exactly the wrong way).


Thank you so much to MacLeod Andrews, Mina Vesper Gokal, Jack and Matilda Andrews, Stephen Bradbury’s sister and cousins, MacLeod’s friends, Mina’s boyfriend Faizan, all for coming out to the screening. We went out afterwards to a lovely place (Blue something-or-other, wasn’t it?), drank, traded stories, and ended the evening with karaoke and Wendy’s. Awesome!


One of the reasons I love going to Shriekfest is ’cause I love the company – Denise is a terrific organizer, and she sets the tone: everyone is supportive of each other, the filmmakers forget to be competitive and simply become fans. Big shout-outs to the fellow screenwriters, directors, composers, and actors who came out in support of horror, sci-fi and fantasy goodness, whether you had stuff in the fest or not.


Some quick shout-outs to Cafe Gratitude, just south of Melrose on Larchmont – a vegan cafe with awesome breakfasts, cool staff, and some great desserts. As someone who loves to make fun of vegans, I confess I was swayed (at least for a while). I also have to mention Cactus Taqueria, on Vine just off Barton – great 3AM food; and Nat’s Thai Food, just around the corner from the hotel, on Vine north of Santa Monica Blvd. A big-ass bowl of spicy Massuman curry, rice and Thai iced coffee set me back less than $10.

NEXT WEEK, we review the Eerie Horror Festival experience (in Erie, PA) – with sweetheart Debarati Biswas and DP Ben Wolf!

We Win Best Sci-Fi Feature At Shriekfest!

Found In Time at Shriekfest 2012

MacLeod Andrews (Chris), Mina Vesper Gokal (Ayana), Denise Gossett (festival director), Arthur Vincie (director)

We won the Best Sci-Fi Feature Award at Shriekfest last night! Congratulations to the cast, crew, crowdfunders, family, friends, supporters, loved ones and pets for your help, patience, and love these past years. This is just the beginning! This coming Saturday, October 13th, at 2pm in Erie, PA, the film will have its East Coast premiere at the 8th Annual Eerie Horror Festival. See you there Some photos of Shriekfest are on our Tumblr page, and stay tuned for interviews and more info! Congratulations also to our fellow winners and finalists – we had a great weekend watching some really cool films!

Found In Time At Eerie Horror Festival

East Coast Premiere Eerie Horror Film Festival

More great news! Hot on the heels of our world premiere at Shriekfest, Found In Time will have its East Coast premiere at the Eerie Horror Film Festival, in Erie, PA. Details:
Order Tickets: www.eeriehorrorfest.com
Where: Warner Theater, 811 State Street, Erie PA
When: 2pm, Saturday October 13th! But stick around for the rest of the fest if you can, there’s sure to be some great stuff screened
About Eerie: Now in its 8th year, the four-day event (October 11th-14th) includes screenings, workshops, celebrity appearances, and fun events that connect fans of sci-fi/horror/fantasy with independent filmmakers.

Thank you to the good folks at Eerie and to our fans, friends, cast and crew!