Undead in Ohio: An award-winning weekend at The Indie Gathering.
August 30, 2011
As some of you undoubtedly are aware, my summer away from advertising has found me on the film festival circuit, where my horror script Belzec: The Made Undead is actually winning awards. Last month it received two first place trophies (best horror & sci/fi feature) at the Action on Film Festival in Pasadena and in June a second place (horror/feature) at The Waterfront Film Festival in Saugatuck, Michigan.
This week I write from Westlake, Ohio, where Belzec took first place (horror/feature) at The Indie Gathering. The Indie Gathering celebrates independent film and in particular those made in the Ohio valley. I’ve never been to Ohio before but my zombie script would not be denied! I wasn’t the only out-of-towner. Other winners came from as far way as England, South America and even New Zealand to receive awards in various categories.
While The Indie Gathering isn’t the Academy Awards and we aren’t at the Four Seasons, I’m humbled to have won here. TIG takes film very seriously and are devoted to helping unknown and aspiring film makers in their quest for the big time or, frankly, just to get work. At each festival I’ve visited the founders and producers were, to a man, conspicuously un-selfish in this regard.
Ray Szuch and Kristina Michelle (pictured above) of The Indie Gathering were no exception. These two individuals wanted nothing more than for everyone at the festival to network and find connections. (So unlike most advertising award shows, where winning and losing often feels like something out of Schindler’s List.) Kristina is also an actress; no surprise given her looks. Ray has spent decades on the other side of the camera in one form or another. He’s also a seventh degree black belt in karate. And yet here they were, putting on a 3-day show for other filmmakers…for Cleveland… for fun. There’s little chance they made any money.
You have to feel for such fierce independents. These folks bust their ass to make movies, regardless of miniscule budgets and no-name talent. Take Twisted Spine for example. Their motto: “Your Premiere Micro-Budget Experience!” Their film, Murder Machine won the People’s Choice award. I didn’t get to see it but I did view Brian Lawler’s mondo-bizarre Aquarius Rising. His Shock Star Studios also produced Legend of the Melon Heads, apparently their magnum opus.
Are these films flawed? Hell yes! But there’s something weirdly wonderful about sitting in a hotel basement screening them. For Aquarius Rising I sat directly in front of Mr. Lawlor. A big fucker, you can bet I clapped when the film was over.
Do I want to see my scripts get produced? Of course I do. That’s why I enter them into these festivals. Like my novels, I spent months, even years, writing Belzec: The Made Undead and The Happy Soul Industry. Seeing them on the Silver Screen (hell, even straight to DVD) is tops on my bucket list. Whether winning prizes at all these festivals leads to that is hard to say. But it can’t hurt. And it’s a ripping good time!
If anyone is interested in my books the links are to the right. If you want to read one of the screenplays, just ask. Next up The The Chicago Horror Film Festival and The So-Cal Film Fest, where Belzec is an official selection!
Other pics from The Indie Gathering…