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by Thomas M. Sipos, managing editor [October 20, 2012]





[]  Filmmakers who want to win at next year's Shriekfest horror film festival may want to try shooting something other than "found footage" horror. That's the advice of festival founder and director Denies Gossett, as she looked back on the 12th annual Shriekfest festival, which concluded on October 7, 2012.

"We saw a ton of found footage films and scripts," said Gossett to the Hollywood Investigator. "Every year there seems to be a theme, something that everyone seems tapped into. This year it was found footage films. I think it is being overdone now. Take a break from it, guys."

Gossett has a point! In 1999 The Blair Witch Project's "found footage" style was imaginative and innovative -- but since then it's been way overdone!

Yes, there have been some decent knockoffs. The past decade has seem come good found footage horror, namely Quarantine (for its energy) and The Last Exorcism (for its complex characters that defy stereotypes, and its and innovative story twists),

Coming in behind them is the still pretty decent Cloverfield. But most "found footage" horror films are drab and derivative -- especially when combined with such unimaginative subgenres as torture porn.

Concerning this past year's Shriekfest entries, Gossett adds, "There were quite a few zombie films. This never seems to wane. And quite a few ghost films/scripts. We hardly saw any vampire flicks or werewolf movies/scripts. And not so many slashers -- but the ones we did get were brutal -- more torture porn."

The dearth of vampire entries is surprising in light of the Twilight film series' success. Perhaps the reason so many indie horror filmmakers are instead shooting "found footage" films is because it's a structure that seems cheap to produce and easy to pull off.

Don't be surprised if your film wasn't selected for Shriekfest screening this year -- the competition is fierce! Gossett says, "We accepted 26 short films, 10 features, 20 feature screenplay finalists, 10 short screenplay finalists, and 10 original song finalists. It's always extremely hard to win."

What separated winners from losers?

"Many good films didn't make the cut because they weren't tight enough in editing," said Gossett. "Just because you shot it does not mean you need to use it. If it doesn't forward the story, cut it. Start with a strong story -- don't start shooting until you have one. Really flesh out your stories. The acting can hurt a film too. Audition your actors, and keep shooting until you get what feels authentic. Light properly. Don't let small errors pull us out of your story."



Also read the Hollywood Investigator report on Shriekfest 2003.

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