Since starting GoSeeTalk in 2009, I’ve attended Fantastic Fest four times (oddly, I have been on even years since 2012), and 2018 might just take the cake. In three-and-half days I saw 11 movies, wrote 4 full reviews & 6 mini write-ups, conducted 3 interviews, slept roughly 7 hours in total, downed dozens of beers, and had the best damn time yet!
But it’s not just the quality of films that make for a great time. The more time I spend at festivals, I find what keeps me coming back are the personal experiences more than the narratives playing to die-hard genre film fans. And believe me, I have my share of stories. So check out all of the links below – highlights of my time at the Alamo over the years – to get an idea of how much fun Fantastic Fest can be.
I guess it’s best to start at the beginning. In 2012, I had my very first taste of the Alamo Drafthouse, and to this day, no other theater compares to how they exhibit films, serve guests, and cater to true cinephiles. While there, I interviewed Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill after their film, Sinister, wowed audiences. I knew they were talented, but never thought one day they would work on Doctor Strange.
Following that, I entered the Nerd Rap battle and people ate up my lyrics about Big Trouble in Little China, Army of Darkness, The Rocketeer, and other films I grew up loving. I also got to know Jen Luk and Cole Drumb, the couple who created a stellar animated short inspired by Cowboy Bebop called Post-Human.
In 2014, I had an amazing chat with Nicolas Winding Refn and wife Liv Corfixen about her doc which chronicles the creative struggle and poor reception to Only God Forgives. It’s interesting when filmmakers talk about their craft, and more so when they let their guard down. Refn also signed my vinyl copy of the score to Valhalla Rising which was awesome.
Then, two years ago, I got to have a 1:1 interview with one of my heroes, Nacho Vigalondo (he previously autographed my Mondo vinyl of Timecrimes when I talked to him and the rest of the VHS 2 directors in 2014), spoke to Tim Burton on the red carpet, as well as see the world premiere of one of my most cherished modern genre movies – a throwback ‘80s styled sci-fi tale called The Osiris Child: Science Fiction Volume One. I wrote a glowing review, and it really hit home with Australian director, Shane Abbess. He was so taken with the write up that he put my pull quote on the theatrical posters and DVD/Blu-Ray cover – it’s hard to get any cooler than that. See below…
When I started the site in ‘09, (and my wife fell in love w/ Twilight shortly after), I knew fate would one day have @kellanlutz and I grace the cover of a film…never thought it would be the amazing @theosirischild See kids, hard work pays off and dreams do come true! pic.twitter.com/7gahDZkuIn
— Marc V. Ciafardini (@GoSeeTalk) December 12, 2017
This year, my favorite movie was a very witty send-up of slasher films. When you get to speak with filmmakers (as press, or just a fan) it means a lot to them that someone gets their film. Check out our fun video interview with the creative team and review of You Might Be the Killer. Brett Simmons might be my new favorite genre director. We totally get their film, and are very willing to help promote it. In fact, our good buddy, Bryan Kluger (of Boomstick Comics), and I even mentioned it when we were interviewed by IMDb at the Fest. Fingers crossed they air it!
Also, there was a very unexpected encounter – Alamo founder, Tim League, sat right next to me during The Quake. The film is a familial affair dealing with catastrophe (again) in the sequel to The Wave. On that note, coincidentally, as we are both fathers, we had a quick talk about how our view of films changed now that we have children. Again, totally unexpected.
But film festivals are also a blast if you travel and experience these films with like-minded friends. This year I went with a bunch of Dallas film critics, an actor, a theater programmer, and videographer, and some of the best memories weren’t even from a movie. You can check out my Twitter feed to see more of the fun that happened this year.
In three and a half days, I saw many great films but really enjoyed catching up (briefly) with old friends and industry professionals, going to bed at 4:30 AM on more than one occasion, quoting Letterkenny repeatedly with our group, and laughing so damn much. This was a shot of us on the red carpet…and photo credit goes to Leonard Maltin‘s daughter, Jessie. You never know what’s going to happen at these kinds of film festivals.
It’s a blast if you can do it, and the best advice I can give (when it comes to selection of the films) is to try to see the types of things that may never find distribution, and avoid the big films that will be released a few weeks after the Fest. What you want to see is up to you, but do what works for your style, your interests and your sensibilities. I’m sure that, like me, you’ll have a fantastic time!