I’m happy to say that my tally for last year’s FilmQuest (154 feature films, short films, music videos and web-series screened) was eclipsed in 2018. My brain may be a bit fried, but I believe I took in 163 features/shorts/videos/web-series over the nine day festival.
Filmmakers, writers and press from all over the world gathered in Provo, Utah to experience some horror, some fantasy, some sci-fi and practically everything in between.
But let’s get to what you really want to see – here are the big winners of FilmQuest 2018!
Best Feature Film: The Blacksmith and the Devil
Best Documentary: The Insufferable Groo
Best Comedy Short: Lunch Ladies
Best Fantastic Short: To Catch a Fly
Best Fantasy Short: Ovum (Argentina)
Best Foreign Short: Maw
Best Horror Short: Claw
Best Sci-Fi Short: Laboratory Conditions
Best Student Short: Leviathan
Best Utah Short: Mortal Coil
Best Animated Short: Bullet Time
Best Music Video: Ricochet
Best Web Series: Pushing Skills
Best Youth Film: Dead Air
Best Director – Feature: Paul Urkijo Alijo – The Blacksmith and the Devil
Best Screenplay – Feature: Jules Vincent and Chuck McCue – Alive
Best Actor – Feature: Pedro Pascal – Prospect
Best Actress – Feature: Sophie Thatcher – Prospect
Best Supporting Actor – Feature: Eneka Sarardoy – The Blacksmith and the Devil
Best Supporting Actress – Feature: Kathleen Quinlan – Chimera TIED Suzanne Voss – Dementia Part II
Best Ensemble Cast – Feature: Lost in Apocalypse
Best Ensemble Cast – Feature (Honorable Mention): The Witch Files
Best Cinematography – Feature: Stijn Grupping – You Go to My Head
Best Editing – Feature: White Chamber
Best Sound – Feature: The Appearance
Best Score – Feature: The Appearance
Best Production Design – Feature: Top Knot Detective
Best Costumes – Feature: The Blacksmith and the Devil
Best Visual Effects – Feature: Prospect
Best Makeup – Feature: The Blacksmith and the Devil
Best Director – Short: Christopher Litten – Claw
Best Actor – Short: Ryan Patrick Welsh – Outpost
Best Actress – Short: Alana Elmer – Latched
Best Supporting Actor – Short: Kit Williamson – The Quiet Room
Best Supporting Actress – Short: Minnie Driver – Laboratory Conditions
Best Screenplay – Short: Kevin Sluder – Heartless
Best Ensemble Cast – Short: Heartless
Best Cinematography – Short: Trauma Industries
Best Editing – Short: Hang Up!
Best Sound – Short: The Silver
Best Score – Short: Andromeda
Best Production Design – Short: Rab.Bit
Best Costumes – Short: The Boogeys
Best Visual Effects – Short: Outpost
Best Makeup – Short: Malacostraca
The Minerva Award: Mariama Diallo – Hair Wolf
Honorable Mentions for Physical Performances: Sarah Fletcher in Prenatal and Troy James in Look Twice
Best Unproduced Feature Screenplay:
1st Place: Night People by Soren Budge
2nd Place: Odyssey Video by William Angelico
3rd Place: Boxer by Michael Riedel and Toy Lei
Best Unproduced Short Screenplay:
1st Place: The Legacy by Jeffrey Stackhouse and Renfield Rasputin
2nd Place: Boys Like Dead Things by Michael McWhorter
3rd Place: The Farm by Allie Hanley and Daryl Kuxhouse
And with the official winners announced, here are my personal picks for the “best of fest” – features and shorts.
TOP FIVE FEATURE FILMS (in order of preference): You Go to My Head (review forthcoming), The Blacksmith and the Devil (review forthcoming), The Witch Files (review), Dementia Part II (review), White Chamber (review forthcoming)
FEATURE FILMS / HONORABLE MENTIONS (in alphabetical order): Chimera (review forthcoming), The Appearance (review forthcoming), The God Inside My Ear (review forthcoming)
TOP TEN SHORT FILMS (in order of preference): Laboratory Conditions, Compatible, Maw, Caducea, Ovum (Argentina), Hair Wolf, To Catch a Fly, Should You Meet a Lady in a Darkened Wood, The Silver, Rustlers
FIFTEEN SHORT FILM / HONORABLE MENTIONS (in alphabetical order): 3 Keys, A Doll Distorted, Brown Evil, Candyland, Delivery, Goldblooded, Heartless, Honey, I Baked Him a Cake, Malacostraca, Mr. Memento, Paprika, The Adventures of Penny Patterson, Thorn Thank You for Coming, Trauma Industries
I also added a new list of films for last year’s wrap-up article, and had so much fun doing it, I’m including this list again this year.
TOP TEN SHORT FILMS WHICH I’D LOVE TO SEE IN A FEATURE VERSION (in alphabetical order): Caducea, Candyland, Compatible, Goldblooded, Honey, Laboratory Conditions, Mr. Memento, Ovum (Argentina), Rustlers, The Silver
Next up, I’m adding a brand new (I hope fun) category to this year’s wrap-up. Like the creepy little native statue of the ‘70s classic Trilogy of Terror – horror films seem to heavily rely on objects (dolls, talismen, lockets, books) to help tell their tales – generally using heaping helpings of symbolism along the way.
Now. I’m a collector of movie objects and toys. Heck, via the kindness of an on-line friend, I have in my possession, a small piece of wood paneling from the Penney’s elevator in the original Dawn of the Dead (nerd alert!) I’ve got no room left in my home, but in the case of some of the film props seen here at FilmQuest – well, I’ll work it out.
So here and now, I’m going to list my must-have movie props from the films screened at this year’s FilmQuest.
MUST-HAVE MOVIE PROPS (unlimited and in no particular order — and let’s pretend I have the space):
The Blacksmith and the Devil – “Matilde” the doll
The God Inside My Ear – the gnome statue
3 Keys – some of the creature puppets
Brown Fish – the roommate’s “teeth” appliance
Bullies – the “Super Jack” action figure
Caducea – the main “tree” mask
Honey – Riley’s bee-keeping mask
Latched – the tiny forest creature discovered by the main character
Malacostraca – the baby puppet
Ovum (Argentina): the creature egg
The Bloody Ballad of Squirt Reynolds – the Burt Reynolds mask
Brown Evil – the “turd serpent” monster puppet
Compatible – one of the many sugar packets
Dual – some of the clown/bear drawings of the wheelchair-bound kid
Midnight Delivery – the tribal mask/piece received by the main character
Mr. Memento – the main photograph received by the main character
Porcelain Stare – the final porcelain doll
The Baby Whisperer – Ruby’s favorite doll
The Dollmaker – the child doll
Thorn, Thank You for Coming – the Soylent Green Bluray copy used in the film
Trauma Industries – the story’s central toy
What Metal Girls Are Into – the freezer hand
You Are the Captain – one (or two) of the VHS tapes
Along with all of the cool films, this fifth year also saw some pretty amazing panels and workshops.
Production designer Mick Strawn, who has an impressive resume in the film industry, including work on the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, Mortal Kombat and Blade. During his presentation, he showed clips from A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, as well as A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master – discussing behind the scenes tricks and fun anecdotes from his time on set. Honestly, for me, a self-proclaimed “Freddy-geek”, it was something of an emotional experience to see these favorite films from my youth dissected (i.e. it was very cool!). I picked up a copy of Mick’s book, Behind the Screams (now available at www.behindthescreamsbook.com), and can’t wait to dig in!
Six of the essay contributors (including yours truly) from the Amazon #1 best-selling book, My Favorite Horror Movie were in attendance to sign copies of the book and to sit down for an informative Q&A about their choices in the book, as well as an in-depth discussion of horror films in general.
Professor Alex Nibley of Utah Valley University, offered up a detailed examination, side-by-side with a screening of Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth.
Oscar-winning make-up artist, Joel Harlow held a workshop, where he discussed his impressive career, and did a live makeup application on actress Ashley Edner (Star Trek Beyond). Harlow has been nominated for three Oscars, winning one in 2009 for J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek. Down to earth and open to practically any question, hearing his anecdotes and seeing his talent in person – was a remarkable and exciting experience. Harlow was also presented with the Cthulu FilmQuest Legacy Award for his body of work in the industry.
There were many other panels and workshops throughout the festival’s nine days, including screenwriting workshops (with Crit Killen), discussions about how filmmakers can best take advantage of fundraising platforms like Kickstarter (with Justin Giddings) and a workshop with Christina Barsi and her presentation, “Creative Podcasting for Filmmakers”.
And brand new this year was a “speed-dating” event where participants had two minutes to connect, pitch and meet fellow actors, writers and filmmakers. I took part, and while it was insane (in a good way), it was also mighty fun and quite productive.
Outside of the panels and screenings, this year also had chill and fun events like karaoke, getting-to-know-you filmmaker luncheons and multiple after-parties. There was a trip to a local escape room and a journey up to nearby Park City (home of Sundance) for a tour of Utah Film Studios.
About midway through the festival, there was also a fantastic after-party at a local Provo place, called Boxcar Studios. In addition to food and drinks, there were tarot card readings, caricature drawings and several live burlesque acts from local artists. And my favorite – several live snakes were on hand to be cuddled.
Also a notable (and impressive) milestone for FilmQuest – Oscar-nominated actress, Kathleen Quinlan (Apollo 13) was in attendance to promote her film Chimera. Not too shabby.
As I’ve said in previous FilmQuest wrap-ups, this place, this staff, this festival and the people who come to Utah to celebrate these wonderful movie genres – are salt-of-the-earth. There is simply no place better to network, watch terrific films and meet tons of new artists.
But don’t take my word for it.
On the red carpet, I interviewed Los Angeles filmmakers, Jennifer Dorrity Sluder and her husband/producing partner Kevin Sluder – following their two wins (Best Short Screenplay and Best Ensemble Cast in a Short) for their film Heartless (check out my full review here). I asked Jennifer about her overall impression of FilmQuest (their second year attending). Here’s what she had to say:
“We come to Provo to meet more LA filmmakers… [laughs] than any other film festival. And we make friendships here. And we know we’re gonna be helping each other out and hopefully collaborating in the future, ‘cause the programming is top-notch. Everything is so well done. You’re gonna be meeting wonderful people who are making incredible films. Everyone should check out FilmQuest.”
Hey readers, it ain’t just me having a good time watching horror, sci-fi and fantasy flicks in the wilds of Utah!
FilmQuest just wrapped, but they’ve already opened up for submissions to the 2019 season. You can send your projects to them, exclusively via FilmFreeway.
And for a complete list of this year’s nominees and winners (as well as information about the festival and submitting your own film/screenwriting projects), check out their site at www.filmquestfest.com.
And again, stay tuned to this space for upcoming full reviews of some of the festival’s other features: Chimera, Lost in Apocalypse, Prospect, The Appearance, The Blacksmith and the Devil, The God Inside My Ear, White Chamber and You Go to My Head.
And who knows, there may even be a few write-ups for some select shorts.
See you in Provo next year for FilmQuest 2019!