What: Heavy Hitting B-Grade HorrorFest
When: Friday, Oct. 30, doors and art show 6:30 p.m. Movies 8 p.m.
Where: Fairmont Chateau Whistler
Tickets: $18.90 available at heavyhitting.com
Halloween is just around the corner, and while many people are preparing a killer costume and stocking up on snacks, the film fans among us are anxiously anticipating the pinnacle of the spooky season: the annual B-Grade HorrorFest.
This epic festival of all things gory and gruesome was founded by Feet Banks and Chili Thom of Heavy Hitting Films back in 2002 as a fun project for their filmmaker friends. It snowballed into an event that now requires a ballroom to hold all the creative teams and audience members.
"It was just supposed to be a reason for us and our friends to make some horror movies, and turns out that our friends had some friends, and their friends had some friends," Banks trailed off.
"...Chili and I never thought when we started making a movie about killer pom poms back in 2002 that it would balloon into one of the larger film events of the year."
For the first seven years they've held the short-film festival at MY Millennium Place, which holds about 250 people.
"We had a really great run there. It's such a great facility and the staff was always really welcoming to our peculiar style and our savage crowds."
But they found that once all the filmmaking teams had bought tickets to the event, there were only about 100 left for the general public.
"The problem was, it seemed like every year there were more and more people that were getting kind of angry at us that they couldn't get a ticket," Banks said.
So this year, they decided to try out a new venue that would allow them to quadruple the size of the event: the 1,000-person ballroom at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler. They've also teamed up with Whistler Creek Productions to help them facilitate the move.
"They're another good local group of guys that we knew we could count on and trust to not compromise anything that we were kind of aiming for."
The first 600 tickets sold out in just two days and now they have fewer than 200 left up for grabs. Visit www.heavyhitting.com and look for the B-Grade link to get your tickets.
From a filmmaking standpoint, there aren't a ton of opportunities to make fun, narrative films.
"There are many talented filmmakers here in town, lots of people working in ski, snowboard, mountain bike films. But this time of year a lot of the ski and snowboard films are done, the mountain bike films aren't shooting anymore and we just wanted to have an event where people could get out and use their cameras and do something totally different than what they might be used to."
Realism is not the name of the game with this festival. Think more along the lines of over-the-top costumes, ketchup blood and soundtracking made on kids' keyboards, not to mention cameos by a range of monsters, Martians, zombies and vampires. Or as Banks so succinctly describes it: "A one-night, balls-to-the-wall orgy of horrorific short films and general mayhem."
"The good thing about B-Grade is that it's very easy to slip comedy into that genre. I think that's one of the reasons we've had such a success with the festival, is that you get a bunch of people laughing their asses off, it doesn't really matter what they're doing, they're going to have a good time, and that's what it's all about."
On top of all the film offerings, the Blind Mute Productions crew is setting up a horror-themed art show to set the stage for an evening of slasher heaven.
As of Thursday, Heavy Hitting had received 15 film submissions, from within the Sea to Sky corridor, Kamloops, Vancouver and the East Coast of Canada. The entries will be judged by an esteemed panel of local industry experts, that includes the likes of Banks and Thom, two-time past winner Stu MacKay-Smith, Vancouver-based director Travis Tetreault and Kevin Little from Lux Visual Effects. They'll be selecting an overall winner based on story, production value, sound, music and overall "horrorificness." The winner walks away with the silver skull trophy (a.k.a. the Stanley Cup of Horror), a small cash prize, and a $2000 voucher from Production Services, a Vancouver-based film equipment and rental house. There's also a prize for best death scene and best nude scene, sponsored by Sandbox Productions, of course.
"It is, and continues to be, a festival for filmmakers just to have a forum to do things they couldn't or wouldn't be allowed to do anywhere else," said Banks.
And since all this HorrorFest fun goes down just a day before All Hallow's Eve, people are also being encouraged to come out in costume.
"Obviously, you're going to be sitting in a theatre, so don't go as a six-foot diameter pancake," Banks suggested.