The long-running Atlanta Independent horror film festival BAFF is back for its 13th season! Who wants an extended Halloween?
With Halloween now in our rear view mirror, don’t think the horror has ended. Did you remember to check the body? It’s still ALIVE!!! Indeed, the spooks and scares live on for at least a couple more weeks, as the Buried Alive Film Fest in Atlanta is going to take place from November 14 – 18 at the 7 Stages Theatre. BAFF is going to be showing five feature films and about thirty short films, all celebrating independent horror production. For our fans in SEC country, go ahead and make this an extended Halloween and go get yourself buried alive! I’m happy to be joined by Blake Myers, the festival director of BAFF to describe for those who will be going, what they can expect.
TST: Thanks for sharing some of your time with us, Blake! Give us an overview of the Buried Alive Film Fest. What is it about your festival that sets it apart and makes it special? What are you most proud of in this year’s event?
BM: Buried Alive is all about exploring the horror genre for new and innovative works, while also paying tribute to the classic films that made the genre so great. I’m most proud that we can present such a diverse and creative collection of films in an amazing theatre like 7 Stages and have them projected by the best projection team, Atlanta Pro AV. It’s always been important for us to make sure the films we show always look great on the big screen.
TST: I see that this is the 13th year of the festival. How has the festival changed over the years? Are you seeing the effects of the recent popularization of the genre?
BM: Many years ago it was friends inviting friends to watch fucked up movies in the basement of a bar. After that year we decided that we had to grow our small gathering into a real festival that would make our city proud. We started screening in real theaters and showing professional projection.
We made sure to find qualified judges and started giving out awesome awards like the golden shovel and the Splitizies. We seemed to be moving in step with the popularization of the genre because every year there are more films submitted and we keep on meeting more horror fans. It’s great!
TST: The lessons of independent horror directors, from the legendary Hooper, Raimi, and Romero, to the recent run of Jennifer Kent, Ari Aster, and Jordan Peele have proven that you can make tremendous low-budget horror films that can find huge audiences. It would seem that this would encourage legions of up-and-coming directors and producers hoping to be the next Blair Witch.
Now, more than ever, it seems that there is a tremendous amount of independent horror that gets made, the technology allowing even a very small crew make some really impressive material. When you put out the call for films, I assume you got a mountain of submissions. How many films got submitted for your review, and what are your criteria in identifying what you want for your festival? How did you come up with the final films in your roster this year?
BM: We had 376 films submitted to us for this year’s festival. First and foremost, we are looking for originality. We see a ton of films and you really start to see a lot of the same stuff. We like to program movies that turn the genre on its head. Then we also want well-made films with good camera work, real acting, believable effects, and audible sound. It was hard to trim down this year’s collection from the submissions, as there were a lot of good films we had to reject. I wish there was more time for sure!
TST: I was impressed with your selections for your feature films. I’m particularly a big fan of Framed, which I saw at the Portland Horror Film Festival… lots of beautiful bloody mayhem in that. The Director, Marc Martinez Jordan is an up and coming auteur for sure! You can also check out our reviews for the wonderful Grindhouse History lesson that is Survival of the Film Freaks, the midnight movie anthology Dead By Midnight (11PM Central), and the ambitious psychological bender The God Inside my Ear.
As much as I love to get screeners of the festival feature films, I have become a huge proponent of the horror short film. From festivals here in Portland, I’ve been fortunate to see a few of the films coming and would vouch that The Bloody Ballad of Squirt Reynolds is hilarious and that Claw is not for the faint of heart (So wrong, and yet so right!). With the fantastic technology available to ambitious directors, it seems like the short film is a real testing ground for proving your horror skills. Given those criteria, can you give us a couple of the SHORT FILMS that you think the crowd must see!
BM: With over 50 shorts programmed for this year’s festival it’s hard to pick out just a few, but here’s some that really stand out. Helsinki Mansplaining Massacre, directed by Lilja Rautsi, does a great job of being funny while also delivering the gore. With great nods to great horror films, it still delivers a great social commentary on women’s roles in society.
The Chairman from Frank White is a creepy tale about a corporation that is forcing psychics to help them with their business plans and torturing their family members. It reminds me of Lynch and Cronenberg.
Psycho Kino from Spain and directed by Guillem Dols, tells the story of a pair of snuff filmmakers that are torn on how to get the perfect shot for their masterpiece film. While the victim is trying his best to play the part, the two killers are coming to terms about their personal relationships and their art.
TST: I can really appreciate that the short films are such an international thing, perhaps even more than with feature films. That’s something I’m seeing in many festivals. I’ll definitely have to check those out! Psycho Kino sounds sick!
TST: Something really cool that you do is The Sinema Challenge, a competition for local artists to test their movie-making chops. How many artists do you have submitting for the challenge this year? Is this something you’ve done at your previous festivals? What can we expect to come out of this challenge?
BM: We have 14 different teams participating in this year’s 3rd annual Sinema Challenge. It’s one the festival’s most popular events. We started the event as a way to promote more local film production and it sure has taken off.
It’s great to see filmmakers getting to know each other and make more movies together. They have to draw from a collection of different horror genres and then also from a deck of Cards Against Humanity. With those two selections, they really have quite a job to make a crazy movie. We give the winners a handful of passes to the entire festival. The screening of all the films made is our opening night program and it’s always a lot of fun. It’s usually a packed house, people love seeing their hard work on the big screen.
TST: Such a great way to help set your festival apart! (I love Cards Against Humanity BTW) Let us know if and when you post the winning film, and we’ll post it. (Make sure that they reveal what the cards they drew were!)
TST: Now that Atlanta has become a huge major studio hub, for things like The Walking Dead, and Marvel films, are you seeing that influence on the filmmaking community in the City? Does that talent trickle down to the independent talent, or is there a separation of the big studio efforts and the small indie productions?
BM: Having the booming film industry in Atlanta has done nothing but make things awesome for BAFF. We see more people interested in coming to the festival and we meet more filmmakers who have moved to the city that want to be involved in local filmmaking. It’s great to have so many people want to get involved. Big productions put people to work. When they have money and more experience, they can turn around and use that to make their own films.
TST: Do you have a background in the film industry? What’s your connection to the horror movies?
BM: Yes I do. I’m in my 9th year of working for the Walking Dead as a set dresser and a Set Dec buyer. I’ve also produced, was the production designer, and have done special effects for many award-winning short films. I was a projectionist back in the day working for a local art house theatre and film festivals like Atlanta Film Fest and Slamdance. Horror movies have always been my favorite!!
TST: Congratulations on all the success of The Walking Dead! That’s quite a contribution to the horror community and a huge driving force behind the popularization of the genre! Really bummed to see Andy Lincoln leave this year. That was a hell of a run.
So, to conclude, we here at The Scariest Things just finished up our top 100 Horror films of all time, by compiling the top 25 horror movies from a number of jurors in the industry, as well as some nutty horror super-fans. On our podcast we do a breakdown of what we call our fearsome foursome, to create our talking points, so, we can’t let the opportunity pass without asking what your top four horror films are!
Blake Myers Fearsome Top Foursome:
Night of the Living Dead!
TST: Awesome! Nice call on the Beyond… that’s an original take. Don’t be surprised if we ask you to participate in our next selection jury!
And with that… it’s a wrap. Go down to Atlanta for an extended Halloween!
Tickets are on sale for BAFF 2018 now, and you can order them HERE.