Yes, they have! The Oscars of Horror, that is, with all the magic and heart-pounding excitement of Hollywood’s Academy Awards. And it all happens at the one and only CLAW AWARDS of Terror Film Festival.
With season four appearing on the horizon, TFF is now hard at work to make the 2009 festival a most prodigious event; and as part of the operational strategies this year, TFF intends to actually lower (yes, you read that right) some of the costs for clients and fans alike. TFF provides a great opportunity to see movies from around the world, network with industry professionals, and make new friends in a fantastic social environment that brings international attention, visitors, tourists, and creative artists to the great city of Philadelphia.
The spectacular third season of Terror Film Festival took place in October 2008 at the distinctive and gothic Ethical Society Building, across from beautiful Rittenhouse Square in center city Philadelphia. The five day event, hosted by the lovely PRINCESS HORROR and Festival Director CLAW, featured 62 stellar films from the USA and around the globe, and culminated with the prestigious Claw Awards, also nicknamed, "The Oscars of Horror".
Shawn Cain of BlogTalkRadio's INDEPENDENT FILM UNITED flew in from Seattle to present the awards along with Princess Horror. “You could actually feel the anticipation and excitement in the air as the attendees eagerly moved through the week of films and finally gathered for the Claw Award ceremony on Saturday night. It was all very electric, kinetic", states Marketing Director Peters. And as one guest remarked, "I was at the American Music Awards, and this was better!”
Receiving a Claw Award has become a life changing experience for many creative artists, with recipients literally coming to tears as they accepted their accolades onstage. One of the high points of the ceremony was the first Terror Film Festival Lifetime Achievement Claw Award bestowed on Hollywood's very own Alan Howarth, two-time Academy Award winner with a string of box office hits to his credit (Halloween 2-6, Escape from New York, Star Trek 1-5, The Thing, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Army of Darkness, etc). Howarth also received Best Original Music Score for the movie BASEMENT JACK and his acceptance speech, which included a surprise onstage message from friend Bruce Campbell (Spiderman 1-3, My Name Is Bruce, Bubba Hotep, Evil Dead 1-2, Army of Darkness) brought the entire audience to a standing ovation. "It was so heart-warming to see this kind of response, and it truly was a memorable experience", states Peters. Terror Film Festival was also chosen as the Philadelphia promotional provider for Campbell's awesome new film MY NAME IS BRUCE with an exclusive sneak peek of the movie trailer. The film opened in Philadelphia two weeks later with two sold out screenings and a third screening added to accommodate the overflow of fans. “It’s good to be the king”.
Winning a Claw Award has clout and can often be the catalyst for an unknown filmmaker or screenwriter to start their careers and find distribution for their film or a green light for their script. Indeed, Terror Film Festival can boast that all three of their Best Feature Film winners for the last three years have acquired distribution (ALIEN RAIDERS Warner Home Video 2008, SIDE SHO Lionsgate Films 2007, and THE MURDER GAME Warner Home Video 2006), with several screenwriting winners closing script option deals.
"As an independent film festival, we're noticing a growing number of studio films being submitted to us which already have DVD distribution in place. They're choosing the festival pre-release run as a strategy to gain international exposure and to get the buzz started before the DVD street date hits. Savvy filmmakers know that film festivals are sometimes the only opportunity the public will have to see these films on a big-screen and in a theatrical release type of setting, without spending incredible amounts of ad dollars", states Peters. Another case in point, Terror Film Festival was happy to partner with Summit Entertainment (Twilight, Michael Clayton, Disaster Movie) in presenting the international release of TRAILER PARK OF TERROR, a ‘killer’ new horror flick with a rocking southern-fried soundtrack and a devilish sense of humor.
The 2008 Best Feature Film winner, ALIEN RAIDERS, a creative fusion of horror and sci-fi, is a powerful testament to the Hollywood art of sci-fi/action films. Shot in 15 days, Director Ben Rock of Los Angeles whips up a masterful blend of suspense and imagination in a clever and action-packed story, and instead of relying on expensive, time-consuming special effects, shows his cinematic prowess with technical skills through smart cinematography, inventive sound and lighting designs, and strong performances from his actors. The film stars Carlos Bernard (24) and Matthew St. Patrick (Six Feet Under), and Alien Raiders is slated for a February 2009 release by Warner Home Video's Raw Feed division.
Tan Tolga Demirci's Turkish fantasy film GOMEDA was another monster hit at Terror Film Festival, as well. The stunning and idiosyncratic composition, brilliantly scored with the eerie and hauntingly alluring music of Seattle composer, Semih Tareen, is an adventurous exploration in surrealism. The film is mesmerizing, capturing the viewer in a chimerical dreamscape that brings them face-to-face with their hidden, unconscious fears. Gomeda could easily be classified as art-horror, stylistic, with dark, moody Freudian undercurrents. Tareen won Best Original Music Theme and the film garnered Best Sound Design. BASEMENT JACK, from director Michael Shelton and screenwriter Brian O'Toole (Los Angeles), was another crowd pleaser that gathered five awards (Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Cinematography, Best DP, and Best Music Score). Eric Peter-Kaiser portrays the lead role of Jack Riley in a hip, young and brilliantly charismatic way, while still managing to bring us a deeply scary character. Set around the Necropolitan Hotel, Basement Jack is what every great horror film should be - frightening, believable, and presenting a main character that can continue to grow legs throughout any amount of sequels.
“With such a diverse melange’ of films, and being a genre arts film festival (horror, fantasy, sci-fi, thriller, drama), there was something for everyone’s taste, and each and every film screened was outstanding", states Princess Horror. Terror Film Festival has gained a rapid notoriety in the festival community presenting a programme that highlights the best of the best. Also included on the winners list were: Best Director Tony Swansey of Chicago for SQUEAL, a truly scary and exciting horror film; Best Supporting Actor Bruce Dern in David Winning's SWAMP DEVIL, proving once again the sheer power of Dern’s abilities; Best Screenplay for EXCISION went to Richard Bates Jr. out of Bruckheimer's camp; Best Actress Mary Ann Biewener for her role as Mrs. Temple in ABSENT; Best Drama Short Film ALL FOR LOVE by Ron E. Harris of Irving, Texas; Best Thriller Short Film NOTHING FACE by Quakertown's Mitch Csanadi; Best Sci-fi Short Film ATTACKAZOIDS! by Brian Lonano of Staten Island; and, Philadelphia native Norman Macera's LUNICIDAL, a biting dark comedy similar to the early works of John Waters. Terror Film Festival 2008 also hosted Claw Award winning screenwriters Ron Albury of Cincinnati, Bo Ransdall of Tennessee, Aaron Granlund of New York, and Ron Podell of Michigan.
So, what is unique about Terror Film Festival and why do so many creative artists attend each year? "We've established a very good reputation of integrity and have a clear focus on serving our clients and fans. Our number one goal is to provide a sublime film festival experience and extremely personalized service. We literally get to know each filmmaker and fan on an intimately personal level", states Peters. "What a fantastic festival which just oozed intimacy, warmth, and intelligence. I was amazed and it was truly incredible. I urge anyone to get down there next year. It's a really, really cool fest", stated Australian filmmaker Victoria Waghorn, who flew in for the 9 minute screening of her film WHEN SALLY MET FRANK, an incredibly well-executed short film.
"With the precarious economic changes in the wind, we continue to see multiple financial opportunities presenting themselves to our festival and the creative artists. It is a very exciting time for talented and enterprising filmmakers to gain momentum in the media industry. These entrepreneurs are very adaptable and are already used to working with scarce resources, so even in the midst of economic strife, success is very possible for them. With the emerging digital technologies, the forward thinking filmmaker can market their products in a way never before possible, and TFF is dedicated to helping them in all of their marketing endeavors", states Peters.
"We have a definite maverick marketing approach and work diligently to create innovative ideas in our initiatives to differentiate ourselves from other film festivals - hence our original concepts: Princess Horror (the first film festival icon); The Claw Awards (the first full-blown genre awards ceremony); listing our submitted films on our website as additional promotion for our creative artists; and, posting video interviews of our festival attendees on our website. These are all highly unique marketing ideas and no other film festival in the world had ever explored them before us", states Claw.
Terror Film Festival takes place each year in October in Philadelphia, and film and screenplay submissions re-open each year on January 01 at 12:01 AM. Imagine...a cold, eerie night. The wind is howling. The clock strikes midnight. There’s a knock at the door. Carefully...cautiously...you open the door to find, it’s Terror Film Festival calling! There’s a new scary in town, Philly’s very own international TERROR FILM FESTIVAL. Live your dreams...or at least, YOUR NIGHTMARES.