Thursday, July 22, 2010

Interview with Ken Daniels, Festival Director of Fright Night Film Fest

Every year, for the last two years anyhow, we've talked with Ken Daniels, the Festival Director of the Fright Night Film Fest as we lead up to the Fest. We spoke with him in 2008 (link here) and 2009 (link here) and if you'd like to know more about how the festivals work and what they can do for you, as a filmmaker, I'd suggest going back and reading through those. Then, after you've read them, you can read through this... our 2010 interview with Ken Daniels.

But first... my two bits. A lot of festivals out there go for the mainstream fare, some go for the convention feel and others go for the retro screenings. Fright Night does a bit of everything, but they're really about indie horror and they're about the filmmakers. Festivals like this are the ones that we need to support and keep flourishing. The industry is changing and festivals like this will be the bridge to take us all to the next level. So, attend it, submit your film, go to their site, do what you can!

Let’s just refresh our readers memories to start. Tell us about the Fright Night Film Fest.

Fright Night is the Largest Jury Genre Film Fest in Mid America. We also have one of the largest conventions in this region.

Are there any big changes or new things for this year?

Yes, we added the Inside the Filmmakers Studio. Increased our Bands, moved the Cocktail till after the Awards Ceremony. Added the after party after the Awards on Saturday.

Tell us about some of the highlights this year, what should our readers be on the lookout for?

Lookout for the Roger Corman Double Feature of Deathrace 2000 and Grand Theft Auto in glorious 35mm at the Drive-In on Friday July 30, 2010.

So, talk about the state of indie horror. Where is the whole genre at now and what’s next for it?

That's a tough question. Indie horror may be flourishing, but the quality of films is suffering. People think getting a new Hi Def camera and a crew together makes them a filmmaker. Maybe a filmmaker but not necessarily a good filmmaker. The genre is stuck right now. More unique ideas need to be brought to the screen. Zombies aren't the best subjects anymore for a horror film. Neither is the standard kids in camp, kids have sex, kids get killed be serial killer scenario. We need more unique films, with better stories. Filmmakers need to work longer on their films. Take a year and plan the whole thing from preproduction to postproduction out to the very end.

Over the last few years, the talk has been all about web-based and self distribution. Talk about how you see the process of indie horror filmmakers monetizing their films and what part do the festivals play?

We have a great panel from some very big distributers this year. They will be giving great info in the panel. In my opinion the money isn't quite there yet for most of the web based distribution ideas. There are way too many films on the market for people to make a ton of money. Film Festivals fill that gap by providing the perfect opportunity for the Distributors to meet the filmmakers and buy the films. Winning at a film festival is a very big deal. Having Laurel Leaves planted on your DVD cover is paramount to acceptance by some legitimate.

The industry has changed over the last few years, what do filmmakers need to do to keep up, as in… as far as production value is concerned, what’s the bare minimum a filmmaker needs to get in to festivals, get distribution, etc.?

Make a good film. Use proper lighting. Get better camera's. Hire better actors. WRITE A BETTER STORY. Understand how to use sound better.

So, let’s talk about the sub-genres… what’s playing best these days? Zombie movies were big for a while, Vampires have been getting a lot of play lately. What kinds of trends are you noticing?

Vampire Films are big. A new one that looks promising is "MIDNIGHT SUN" starring John Wells. It's a vampire comedy that will have a teaser trailer at Fright Night Film Fest this year.

So, when and where is this year’s festival and how can people find out more about it?

July 30-August 1st, 2010. The festival is at our favorite spot - The Inn Place on Bluegrass Parkway in Louisville, KY. Go to and hit the hotel button at the top.

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