In life there are ‘certainties’ and then there are ‘near certainties.’ Whilst the former might be represented by the rising and setting of the sun, the latter is most fittingly represented by Adam Green’s on and off the screen FrightFest attendance record. With a slight sense of amazement he reflected, “Every movie I have ever made has played here… every single one… its crazy.” In 2014 the trend is set to continue as the lights fade in the Discovery Screen 1 on Saturday evening for Digging up the Marrow!
So as Green prepares for his eighth FrightFest in nine years [abstaining from FrightFest 2012 not by free will and with an amusing story to the value of $75,000 to follow] he took us behind the story of one filmmaker and one festival.
Hatchet had world premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York, and whilst it did great, Tribeca is not a genre festival. So the reviews were awesome, and we started to get offers. But then I think it was Alan Jones who contacted me and asked if they could screen it here? I was so excited because I had never even been on a plane for more than five hours in my life – I had never been out of the country, and they said, “Oh no we’ll fly you here.” But I was terrified that I’d get off the plane and I wouldn’t know anybody.
That night I was sitting next to Edgar Wright, and Pan’s Labyrinth opened the festival. Hatchet was next and I was so excited until I got half way through Pan’s Labyrinth and I realised I had to follow that. I was literally shitting my pants, and Edgar who was sitting next to me said, “Oh it’ll be fine – this audience appreciates the difference.”
So Guillermo was speaking about how when he was a child a pawn would visit him at night, and then they stopped him and said, “We are going to bring up Adam Green from the United States” and I’m just like, “Don’t, don’t…” They handed me the mic and all I said was, “My movie is not as good as that one.” Everyone started laughing and then I said, “But it has tits in it” and everyone cheered. That was the night that Hatchet was born, because as great as it did in Tribeca, this was the first time the audience that it was made for saw it, and they cheered and they screamed.
Immediately after that every festival in the world came calling for it, and I stayed on the road for around eighteen months before it was released. But because of that I have always had affection for FrightFest, and then the next year was my movie Spiral, and then Grace played at Glasgow and Frozen also played at Glasgow, but I got stranded in a New Jersey airport for three days which was awful. Then Hatchet 2 opened the festival, and Chillerama played here.
Joe Lynch and I then started making these little shorts called The Road to FrightFest, which were just a gift to the festival. They went over so well that we did them again next year, and then it started to become a job where every year we had to figure how we were going to do another FrightFest. So we did three years of those – sixteen shorts altogether. Then we just didn’t have time to do it anymore, and so we stopped. But that was also what led into Holliston, because those became very big on the internet even for those people who couldn’t come to FrightFest.
FrightFest understand and appreciate horror and genre as a broad context, and is not something that is there to only terrify. Across the five days they thoroughly explore the boundaries of genre cinema.
That’s why it works, because one minute you are watching Martyrs and the next minute you are watching Trick ‘r Treat. So that’s why you are able to watch as many movies as you do over the course of five days, because they keep changing, and there’s room for all of them. The co-ordinators just do a fantastic job with the way they programme it.
You’ll be surprised how many movies you can take, because at home I can’t watch three movies in a row – I’ll fall asleep. But at FrightFest something just kicks in, and you’re like alright let’s do this! They just fly by, and before you know it the day’s over and you’ve watched five or six movies… it’s crazy.
There is nothing else like FrightFest. The fact that people come from all over the world and they sit in the same seat for five days straight, and watch almost every single movie – there is nothing else that can compare to it. I’ve only missed one FrightFest in seven years, because even if I don’t have a movie playing I’ll just go as a fan. I’ve made so many friends there, and it really is a community.
What is so great about the festival is that you get to be a fan even though you are one of the filmmakers. You get to sit and watch the movies with everyone else, and then go outside where you get to discuss them. You are just treated like family, whereas at other ones they keep you separated, and you can only sign autographs at a particular time. Here people can come up to you all day long, and you actually get to meet your fans face to face and spend time with them, and it means so much to the filmmakers.
It is the only festival that I go out of my way to make sure I have time to go to, and 2012 was the first time I missed one, which was awful, but we were shooting. Joe and I were trying to figure out a way to stop production for five days, but the producers were like, “If we do that it’s going to cost the production over $75,000 – do you understand that?” We were like, “Yeah” but they were like, “No.”
You wanted to spend $75,000…
Of somebody else’s money… and to us we could totally rationalise it – “Well we’ll be better onscreen because we’ll be happier if you let us go to FrightFest.”
It’s the best festival in the world, and other festivals get mad when ever that gets said or whenever I do that, but it’s no offence to them whatsoever. It’s just because I feel this is where I started. As much as Tribeca was the world premiere of Hatchet, this was the first time that the people I made the movie for saw it, and then everybody else started calling me. But there really is no other festival like this. There are obviously much bigger ones and Sundance is fantastic, but it’s spread out over so many different theatres, and I love the fact that here everything is basically in one cinema.
You can’t be a horror fan and not go to FrightFest – you can’t… it’s so good… so, so good.
Tomorrow Adam Green returns to HeyUGuys for the second part of the interview, focusing on his film playing this year, Digging Up the Marrow.
Check out our FrightFest 2014 coverage here.