Flint Fright FilmFest 2018

When we started things in 2011 with a horror convention I don’t think any of us would have imagined where we’d be in 2018. Most groups that work on conventions either make it or don’t, and let’s be honest, most don’t make it. I don’t know if it’s strictly financial as much as it is about why they got into things. Which is not to say that there’s something blessed about being in it for the fun of it, for the fans, and not the money. There are plenty of shows that are about the money and which are successful, so it’s not just that. I think, for us, the passion to do the shows though has been what has gotten us through the hard times. It helped us see the road as it was and not as we wanted it to be. And it helped us to evolve what we did instead of just folding.

For us, we were hyper-aware of a need to face the reality of our situation. The thing for us was to do the events, to do low cost horror events for this area and when we simply ran out of money and resources to adequately do coventions in the way that made sense for us we looked within ourselves and why we were doing things and we pivoted. We wanted and still want to do conventions but we can’t, so if we can’t and still want to do these events what are we going to do?

We moved on.

We did our Monster Marketplace, a sort of mini-con and film festival and from there were switched over to a film festival. It was a natural fit for us. We had already been showing movies since our first convention and had already gotten movies from around the world in the past so we were pretty confident that we could do it again. We’d also put on the bigger shows so this would be manageable. Finally, with the help of the website Film Freeway that served as as way to promote the show and bring in the films. I tell you what, just like with self publishing, film festival work – on either side of the camera – has gotten worlds easier. When I was involved in a film festival in 2005 they used the site Without A Box, which was similar, but it was much more involved and not nearly as streamlined – the wonders of evolving technology, eh?

Last year we had to figure out how to get through nearly 1200 movie submissions, our notion of free submissions backfiring on us, but this year, with a two dollar fee to submit, the entries were just under 300 and much more manageable and honestly, just as good. We got some fantastic stuff submitted. Having made a couple shorts myself now and having submitted them to festivals, I know how rare it is to get your film accepted (none yet for me, alas) and how special that can be. Sure, there are films that get entered into tons of festivals but those are the outliers and not the norm. We know what we are, a small festival with awards and prize money that may not wow but we work to put on the best show we can and we choose the films that we think best represent what we want the show to be.

We reject a lot of films but never without understanding that we are rejecting something people worked very hard on and were passionate about. All we can do is to be true to what we’re trying to put together and hope for the best. This year we added a couple of twists to things, adding some filmmaker panels and vending to the show in the hopes that it might add something to the day. The panels and vending didn’t go over as well as we had hoped though that was due more to the attendance than anything else. That’s still the thing that confounds me. Flint is a city desperate for things to do and for events, especially that are low cost, but we are still not getting through to people.

So frustrating.

It was a good show though.

And heck, I sold a few things as well, so that’s always a bonus.

Our panels were fantastic. I love that we were able to give some people who have skill, talent, and stories to tell a chance to tell those stories. I love that we tried to bring vending in to give attendees more to do and people a chance to sell their wares and promote what they do.

I love that we got to highlight some local and regional films along with the worldwide ones.

I love the relationships and friendships that form at these shows.

We had a couple of issues, which are to be expected with any show, but we oevercame them and made as good a show as we could. More than anything I am happy that we were able to show nearly forty movies from around the world – and from our own area, so people could see what is out there. Short gain – it’s great to get a good scare and the more voices telling those stories the better. The long term gain – by listening to voices we don’t usually hear, even if they are ‘just’ telling horror stories, we start to learn to hear about the rest of the world. If we don’t hear one another, we’ll never learn that it’s only by all of us working together that the world gets better.

The hardest part of the day, for me, was the awards because the memorial awards are hard. They always will be for me. But they mean the most to me. I love all of the awards but those are personal and it’s great to be able to honor people we loved and able to reward movies that deserve recognition.

Ours is a small show, compared to so many out there, but it’s one built with passion and love and I hope that the folks that come out appreciate that and why we do what we do.

We never look past the event we’re working on so for now, the world is open. There’s an event on the calendar for April but truly, the world is open.

We’ll see what happens next.

Whatever it is.

…c…

Author: Chris Ringler

Writer, blogger, reviewer, artist, arts and cultural events coordinator, and semi-professional weirdo. Author of a heap of books from horror to fairy tale to kid's.

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