Baton Rouge’s original horror film festival, Fear Fête, is back for its second year. Following the festival’s successful debut last year at Rave Baton Rouge 16, it moves to the grander Rave Mall of Louisiana 15 for another weekend of horror.
Zombies, Fear Fête executive director Derek Morris said, remain the hot things in horror. So Fear Fête is saving its Zombie Invasion block of films for last, screening the films at 5:30 p.m. Sunday.
“I think it will be one of our top blocks,” Morris said. “But so far Psychoville is our top-selling block.”
Like last year, 2012’s Fear Fête films are grouped by category. The horror begins at 7 p.m. Friday with the Die Laughing block, followed by the festival’s vampire, terror, fantasy, terror and zombie blocks.
Interest in Fear Fête from both horror fans and filmmakers has grown since the festival’s 2011 debut.
“People are coming back this year and they’re bringing their friends,” Morris said. “They’re a lot more excited than they were last year. Our Facebook traffic has quadrupled.”
The number of Fear Fête submissions grew in 2012, too, from 100 to 175. Morris estimates that 40 percent of the entries came from outside the United States. Films from the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Austria, Australia and Canada made the cut.
Two films from Louisiana also are among the 18 picked by Morris and his selection committee of Louisiana-based horror fans, actors and filmmakers.
“We didn’t choose the Louisiana films because they’re from Louisiana,” Morris explained. “We watch the submissions and score them in directing, acting, story and cinematography. I didn’t expect it, but we had some great films from Louisiana this year. They were tops in their categories.”
The judges noted an overall increase in the quality of 2012 submissions over last year’s entries.
“Not only did we get more films, the films seem to be 10 times better,” Morris said. “I think that’s because better filmmakers are finding out about us. Last year was more amateur filmmakers, or homemade stuff, which we still get and love, but more career-oriented filmmakers with budgets entered this year.”
The festival’s format worked very well last year, but one significant change was made for 2012. Instead a single $13 price for two blocks of films, the festival is offering single blocks of films for $8.
“We got feedback from people saying that sitting in the theater for five hours was too long,” Morris said.
Nonetheless, two blocks of films for $13 are still available.
The Woodshed, a 25-minute film by Kd Amond, a New Orleans filmmaker from Livingston Parish, is included in the festival’s Psychoville block. Shot in French Settlement, the LSU campus and the Laura Plantation in Vacherie, The Woodshed is the story of a girl who leaves a religious cult but then returns to rescue her brother.
Amond is a 2012 graduate of UNO’s film production program. She’s made several short films. The Woodshed previously was screened at festivals in Mississippi and California. It won a best director award for Amond at the 2012 International Television Festival in Los Angeles. An earlier Amond film, Lavender and Peroxide, screened at the 2011 New Orleans Film Festival.
“I wrote The Woodshed as a pilot for a television series,” she said. “It has a cliffhanger ending so, hopefully, everyone’s like, ‘And then what happened?’ ”
Amond has written a character bible and 10-episode outline for The Woodshed.
She sees more opportunity in TV these days for creative storytellers than in film.
“What’s successful in theaters, or what gets funded, it’s usually superheroes or gross-out comedies or sequels,” she said. “When you have an original idea, television or the independent route is the only way to go.”
Amond mostly writes dark thrillers, dramas and horror.
“I’ll write anything, but horror is my favorite genre,” she said. “A lot of people will see The Woodshed and say, ‘That’s not a horror film.’ But if you go by textbook definition of horror, it really is a horror film. Deliverance and Silence of the Lambs are horror films. A lot of people think only Freddy Krueger or Friday the 13th are horror, if you look at the circumstances in The Woodshed, it is horrific.”
Bossier City filmmaker Garyle Morgan’s five-minute film, Emily, opens Fear Fête’s Zombie Invasion block.
After being laid off from his oil industry job in 2009, Morgan studied digital film and video production.
“I asked myself, ‘What do I like to do? What am I good at? And what does all of that add up to?’ I figured it was video- and film-type stuff. So I looked around and, with my veteran’s status, used my GI Bill benefits to go to the Art Institute of Dallas.”
Morgan and some of his Art Institute friends made Emily last year for their school’s annual Horror Fest competition. It won the competition’s best film of the year honor and another award for acting.
Like Amond, Morgan has a knack for horror.
“When I was doing research for writing Emily,” he said, “I looked not at what is scary, but what makes us scared. I found out that it’s more about what you don’t show than what you do show. That’s why there’s not a lot of stuff going on in Emily. If I can allow viewers time to let their minds wander, they will scare themselves, way more than I can scare them. It’s like what Alfred Hitchcock did. You rarely saw bad guys, you rarely saw monsters.”
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