[UPDATED May 23 - Workshop Dates and Details]
WHISTLER, BC – Break out the fake blood and start thinking about how to light your shower scene, Heavy Hitting HorrorFest is back. After a two year hiatus, Western Canada’s most infamous independent film festival will rise for its 15th resurrection in Whistler on Tuesday, October 30, 2018 at The Maury Young Arts Centre. Long-reputed as a no-holds-barred visual orgy of bloody, gory, and savage DIY cinema, Heavy Hitting HorrorFest will bring top horror talent from Whistler and around the world together for the ultimate one-night showcase of fun-and-frightening cinematic mayhem.
Bringing back the festival was a tough call for Heavy Hitting’s Feet Banks after the devastating loss of co-founder Chili Thom in 2016. Banks and Thom created the HorrorFest back in 2002 as an excuse to go make movies with their friends and the showcase them on a big screen. Over the years, word of the mayhem in the mountains spread to directors as far away as Spain and Brazil, and HorrorFest grew to include over 1,200 rabid fans in the Fairmont Chateau Whistler’s largest ballroom.
When Chili succumbed to cancer at age 40 in late 2016, the festival lights were dimmed indefinitely. Banks wasn’t sure he would ever bring it back without his co-conspirator by his side. “Losing Chili sucked,” Banks says. “It took a lot out of me, out of everyone involved with the Fest. But last year when Halloween rolled around, it felt kind of empty. I look back and some of my favourite memories are with my best friends out in the forest making movies for this festival. And I heard from a lot of long-time contributors who felt the same way. So I’m excited to take another kick at the can with HorrorFest and give everyone a reason to go make their own amazing memories and films.”
To ensure that intimate, familial vibe is nourished, the 2018 edition of Heavy Hitting HorrorFest is heading back to its roots. The Maury Young Arts Centre (formerly known as Millennium Place) was the initial home for the event for the first seven years. “That first year we had a projector on a table in the middle of the seats and Chili and I ran the whole show off DV tapes using our camera for playback,” Banks recalls. “It’s exciting to go back to the room where it all started and regain that intimacy of a core group of fans in a small room. When you shout at the screen in the Maury Young theatre, everyone is right there with you.”
Pegged as a “filmmaker’s Festival” from day one, the focus of HorrorFest has always been about having fun, and honing the craft, but Filmmakers do compete for the coveted Silver Skull Trophy (Best In Show) and the handcrafted oversize Peoples’ Choice Championship Belt. Other awards up for grabs include the Most Fearless Performance, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Nude Scene, Rookie of the Year, Best Effect, Best Cinematography, and Best Sound. “We’ve always referred to the Silver Skull as ‘The Stanley Cup of Horror’,” Banks says. “If the Stanley Cup was made of old table saw blades and had a hidden bottle of whiskey inside.”
Also making its bloody return to the red carpet is the Heavy Hitting Pitch-to-Screen Bootcamp, a film workshop designed to mentor young directors and screenwriters. This year’s exclusive workshop will be hosted by an industry heavyweight Jeffery Scott Lando on Saturday, June 24, 2018 at Whistler’s infamous Sushi Village restaurant. The one-day event will include story and production roundtables, and technical tips to help filmmakers progress and impress. After the Workshop weekend, filmmakers will have all summer to produce their film in time for the September 15 HorrorFest submission deadline.
“Here’s a free tip,” Banks adds. “If your movie is just an excuse for you to gratuitously torture women and there’s no story or plot, don’t bother submitting. But if you love monsters, slashers, martians, chupacabras, bigfoots, zombies, mummies, ghosts, lesbian vampires, giant leeches and real B-grade fun then this might be the festival for you. Torture is fine, so long as it is serviced by a story and plot. Otherwise, yeah…maybe go somewhere else.”
Full Heavy Hitting HorrorFest details will be announced in the upcoming months.
PITCH TO SCREEN WORKSHOP 19 + Only | Date June 24, 2018 | Register by emailing Feet@heavyhitting.com.
SUBMISSIONS: $50 Includes one ticket into HorrorFest | Open Friday, May 4, 2018 | Close Saturday, September 15, 2018 at 11:59 PM | Register, read the rules, sign the waiver & submit at heavyhitting.com/submit.
HORRORFEST TICKETS: $50 | 19 + Only | Tuesday, October 30, 2018 at 7 PM | Tickets will go on sale online at heavyhitting.com on Monday, October 1, 2018 at 4:20 PM.
Doors open at 7 PM. Movies start at 7:30 PM. Party until 12:30 AM at Maury Young Arts Centre: 4335 Blackcomb Way, Whistler, BC V0N 1B4.
For more information on Heavy Hitting HorrorFest, visit heavyhitting.com.
NOTE TO MEDIA: HorrorFest images are available for editorial use upon request at firstname.lastname@example.org