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  • Rich

FrightFest 2023: Social Highlights

Updated: Feb 4

This is the End...


Apologies in advance: I rarely take selfies, but here are some highlights of the interactions I had. If I’ve missed anyone it may just have been too fleeting for my fuddled brain to remember you (or hear you in The Phoenix)… no offence. Apart from maybe a couple of people, everyone I met up with I’d never met before and only ever seen one another at Grimmfest, which made this experience all the more incredible. I’m generally social and personable, so I relish opportunities to just meet new people and chat. Where else do movie lovers, horror fans in particular, have this opportunity?


Any interview I do is just that and usually about the love of film. You begin to realise at these events that the thing that connects us all is the love of films. While chatting — and I don’t mean video snippets — you learn as much through who they are as creatives; their conversations and this shared connection… as much as the films themselves. FrightFest proved this to me all the more. Over the course of the five days directors and actors recognised my name via the pre-interviews and as the reviews were released. I’ll be honest, I watched one film that I didn’t like and, from my point of view, reviewing it wouldn’t have been of benefit to anyone. There was even another film I reviewed I wished I’d avoided like a barge pole. But the rest of the viewings ranged from okay to excellent. There were the odd commercial entries (Cobweb) and as others, for the whole, that were as indie as they come (Where the Devil Roams), so I tried my best to judge them on their own qualities. What did I take away from them? Did they fill my belly or my brain?


But, outside of all of the writing and coverage, here were some of the people I had the pleasure of talking to...


Alex Zane. Pretty much the Tom Cruise of British interviewers (minus the stunts); Alex just happened to be having a casual drink, unrelated to FrightFest, so it was a genuine coincidence to have met him. There’s a reason he’s so good at what he does and that’s because he immediately connects with you. It was good just to get some San Francisco advice from him but looking forward to hopefully chatting movies again with him at some point. His podcast A Trip to the Movies with Alex Zane is ace.


Phillip Escott. I’ve written a few essays for Second Sight — the latest for Crimes of the Future out September 11th — and so finally meeting Phil in person was one of the best moments of FrightFest. There was so much to talk about and there was nothing he couldn’t refer to or make links from. A major reason you’re seeing all of the glorious releases on one of the best boutique labels out there.


Sarah Appleton and Jasper Sharp. My new favourite couple. Not just a fountain of knowledge (and an affable duo) but also a genuine laugh. Some of my favourite (like-minded) people I have met via the boutique label talent and love being in the vicinity of them. Please check out their latest documentary The J-Horror Virus, it’s superb.


Josh Saco. One of many people Sarah introduced me to. Josh runs the London branch of the Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies and, for me, was a really important contact to have made. Hopefully, at some point, I’ll be able to fit a talk in. Ya know… 20 years lecturin’ ‘n’ that.


Mark Woodyatt. I met Mark at his own festival that he did for the much-missed podcast Skip to the End. One of the most pleasant guys I have ever listened to on his shows and always effortless to talk to. He’s the real deal: kind, thoughtful and one of the hardest-working people I know. So glad things are working out for him and that nine years of podcasting (with millions of downloads) are paying off. Check out the Mark and Me podcast his latest Fantasy Bizarre.


Neil Marshall. I’d met Neil briefly before back last November at Grimmfest and although didn’t have time to chat a great deal, I knew I’d bump into him again at some point. He is one of the most down-to-earth people I have met within the industry, and, as you would expect, very knowledgeable about film and thirsty to see the latest releases. We didn’t have time to chat in-depth because a screening was about to start, but there were a few recommendations he asked for and then we raved about John Sayles and how good Alligator is. Speaking of which…


Tim Scaping. One of my most rewarding film experiences (certainly retrospective) was seeing Alligator in 4K which will be released by 101 Films late this year/early next. Again, I write a lot for 101, so was good to catch up with Tim Scaping after the screening and put a face to a crucial contact I have had writing for film. Loved his brief intro and it’s clear when meeting him in the flesh why 101 is always stepping up and expanding. Some of the upcoming releases are phenomenal, including a couple of early Christopher Nolans… and four more I’ve contributed towards so far.


Janine Pipe. What a bubbly and warm soul Janine is. She’s also one of the most enthusiastic people I’ve met; that really is immediate and I wish her all the best with her short, "Footsteps", which is even closer to shooting now. Hope it makes it to next year’s festival.


Andy Nyman. I think there was an impromtu signing from Andy, which I missed, but was lucky enough to have met him outside of a screening. I bloody adore the Ghost Stories film that he co-wrote and co-directed with Jeremy Dyson and is genuinely one of the best British horror movies. No surprise he's a hound for horror and know full well he'll have watched as much as possible. His book with Jeremy Dyson, The Warlock Effect, is superb and really taps into their love of magic with an incredibly authentic history to the story. I didn't have the opportunity to talk too much, just meet in the flesh after a brilliant chat on horror and cult cinema we had; the interview of which will be published in November.


Paul Davis. Unexpectedly I met the writer and director of one of my favourite film documentaries, Beware the Moon for An American Werewolf in London. He has that many stories to tell, he’s still telling them to me right now as I type. Amazing guy and mega talented. You should check out the short film "Him Indoors" he made in 2012 with Reece Shearsmith and Pollyanna McIntosh; written, funded, shot, and presented at FrightFest within six weeks. Incredible.


Graham Humphries. Who isn’t a fan of Graham’s work? Our FrightFest artist is responsible for some of the most iconic movie posters of all time dating back to the ‘80s. Glad I’ve finally met him and can’t wait for his latest book to be released: A Nightmare of One Sheet.


Mark Kermode. Meeting Mark was really special as he’s been a constant voice of film for me, at least since my teens. A huge part of my education. He was so humble and I loved how he then just walked straight on from chatting with me and switched it on like the pro he is. Both his intro and Q&A were funny. Love his anecdotes and quick wit.


Kim Newman. Another constant growing up and have come to appreciate even more the past ten years with his commentaries and special features. I met Kim on the first day and then kept bumping into him in the press screeners where, before one of the films started, had the opportunity to discuss Stephen Bissette and Alan Moore and geek a little on comic books and place alongside movies.


The Four Horsemen. I couldn’t have been made to feel more welcome, especially by Greg, who has always been my first port of call. He’s effortless to chat with and seems to have so much time for everyone. I made sure I touched base with most of them at least once each; they are such different characters with equally different conversations. Paul was a whirlwind so only had the chance to thank him. With Ian it was interesting discussing his way into the festivals and how he links it all to his lecturing. Alan kindly primed Mark and also discussed some points of view on a particular documentary we had some feelings about. I cannot thank the Horsemen enough for allowing me the opportunity to cover as much as possible.


The Adams family. As I mentioned in my review of Where the Devil Roams, this was my first Adams family film and so, going in fresh, really added to the experience. I met Toby in passing and chatted with Lulu a couple of times at The Phoenix and Hotel, but all of them (including Zelda who couldn’t attend) immediately followed me and sent the most lovely personal messages. As I mentioned in my review, their latest film really stood out for me in terms of pure, unfiltered creativity and synergy.


George Baron. I’ve worked in education for 20 years now and, with no disrespect to anyone, it is rare I have met any 18-year-old who is so intelligent. It’s clear how: a moment never went by bumping into each other because he was fitting as many films in as possible. George is a genuine old soul and wish him all the best with the bright future he has. Please make sure you see The Blue Rose if you missed it and you’ll see how talented he is.


Keven Ignatius and Nick Psinakis. The directors of this year’s Cheat (which I still need to see) were great to chat with and look forward to catching up on their film. Again, friendly guys who immediately connect at the level of fandom before you even get to their own movie. Cheers for connecting.


Abigail Hardingham. It’s no secret that Nina Forever is one of my favourite British horror films. After I wrote a piece for Fangoria Abigail kindly retweeted with a lovely comment. Apparently, she has a film in production, but in the pub, it was literally one of those moments where I was sitting next to her (not having seen her) turned and instantly connected with the piece. Her eyes lit up and we spent a good while talking about things. A genuine sweetheart and felt as though she was asking more about what I was working on and how the writing started than I was asking her. Again, it was back and forth. A good natter. Tactile. Real… and says it as it is. Love her. Check out the Valentine’s piece: Love Bites: 10 Romantic Horror Movies To Sink Your Teeth Into that also gives you a snippet of Nina Forever.


Carl Daft, David Gregory, and Sean Hogan. I finally met the founders of Severin Films who have not only just released Sean Hogan’s new 45-minute film “To Fire You Come at Last”, but David also had his documentary screened Enter the Clones of Bruce. Loved hearing about the history of Severin and David’s Nottingham roots vs. L.A. life. Alright for some! Read the review of “To Fire…” here.


John Rosman. John is the director of New Life, which is one of my favourites of the festival. The interesting thing is that he comes from a journalism background and he seems to have surrounded himself with a crew that has all these fascinating interests up for conversation such as linguistics and how AI learns. Read his interview here.


Steven Price, Ellen Adair, Mitzi Akaha. One of the lovely things about having already interviewed talent before a festival is that often they follow and comment on your writing. Sometimes they genuinely want to meet you. I just thought a quick "Hi". Ellen, as classy as she is, just asks me down to the pub with the entire Herd family. Every one of them from her husband, Eric Gilde, to co-star Mika Akaha, the co-writer James Allerdyce, producer Matt Mundy and, of course, writer and director Steven Price. Read Ellen and Mitzi’s interview here, Steven’s is here.


Bloomquist Brothers and Catherine Curtain. Founders Day was one of the most enjoyable experiences at FrightFest. Just a fun little slasher that stabs us in the face with the current political climate. Erik and Carson were still buzzing and hugely appreciative of their interview and Catherine was so easy to chat with. If you’re familiar with her other character roles, she’s hilarious. This film should be lapped up and (hopefully) start a new slasher franchise that moves with the politics.


Stuart E. Wright. I think out of everyone at the Festival, Stuart had the most to say. This was also down to not having met him or even connecting him via BritFlicks. He has so much to discuss and look forward to chatting about movies more in the future.


Peter Fuller. One night, I forgot to buy a ticket to get into a venue so ended up outside for ages chatting to an older chap called Peter Fuller who I had never heard of before. One of the sweetest people – turns out he is a major part of helping to manage Vincent Price’s estate. My god, it was a fascinating conversation and hope to organize an interview with Victoria Price on Old Hollywood.


Rachel O’Neale. Rachel is one of those personalities that immediately makes you feel as though you have always known her. I recognized her immediately – again, she’s a warm soul who, as much as chatting away, is just interested in listening to others talk about and debate movies. She has impeccable taste. One night we were chatting for hours to an Australian… whose name escapes me, but Rachel will know.


Emma Dark. What a pleasant individual Emma is. I’ve known of Emma for a while online via We Belong Dead and since ditching Facebook missed her creative posts – especially her crazy puppets and dolls she makes. Always hands-on and playing with her film projects.

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