During the last weekend of October, I attended the Freak Show Film Festival in Orlando, Florida — a three day screening event with some of the best independent horror features and shorts, as well as the coveted “Freaky” Awards. In an interview with Robert Massetti, the show’s owner and producer, we talked about the festival, and on opening up Fear Film Motion Picture Studios in 1999, which is now Florida’s leading independent horror production company.
Massetti has a strong background in horror, saying, “I was a huge horror fan since I was old enough to watch horror films. I guess it rubbed off from my parents who would watch horror films all the time when I was younger. My mother would watch Dark Shadows during the day, and at 3:30, there was always a Hammer Horror film being shown on TV. I would also watch Creature Feature on TV, which would show all the Classic Horror Films like Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Wolfman.” When it comes to producing his own films, Massetti refers back to the classics in horror: “Brian DePalma and Alfred Hitchcock are my two big influences. I’m inspired by the way they create suspense and terror in their films. Something that is sorely lacking in modern horror films today.”
Getting back to this October’s showcase of films, Massetti talked about the festival’s history, “We just finished our 8th year and are heading into our 9th! How time flies! [When we began], there were only a handful of Horror genre film festivals around, and I thought running a film festival would be a fun endeavor. I’m very passionate about independent horror film and wanted to help promote not only independent horror, but also help filmmakers get their work out there for the public to see.”
The Freak Show Film Festival partners with Spooky Empire’s Ultimate Horror Weekend, creating a unique experience for horror enthusiasts; it has even been named one of the twenty coolest film festivals by MovieMaker Magazine. Massetti cites many things that make this festival unique, “There is always something to do at the festival. You can, of course, watch the movies… but we also have celebrities, bands, a huge vendor room, a tattoo room, and HUGE parties. The attending filmmakers become our family by the end of the festival, as we all bond and exchange filmmaking war stories. It’s just a lot of fun for everyone. The films that were screened this year were just amazing. The films keep getting better every year, which is really great to see. The feature film we screened titled Found (Director Scott Schirmer) was a favorite to a lot of the people that attended… The film has an original story and great characters, but is also disturbing all at the same time. Also keep an eye out for the film Pieces of Talent (Director Joe Stauffer) as this film also has a great story and characters as well…”
An awards show concludes the festival, where indie filmmakers who have made a substantial contribution to the horror community receive “Freaky” awards. Barry S. Anderson, the SFX Makeup Artist for George Romero’s Day of the Dead and SFX MUA on Jeepers Creepers designed the coveted “Freaky”, and icons such as John Carpenter and Lloyd Kaufman have been recipients of the shows Lifetime Achievement Award. Massetti described how the “Freaky” began: “We are very proud of our ‘FREAKY Award’ and feel very fortunate that Barry makes all of our awards. We are the only film festival that offers not only an award, but also a piece of art to winning filmmakers. The awards show is growing every year and getting bigger as we add more and more to the show. We feel showcasing the filmmakers during the awards show is really important, as they are all winners in our mind. Being a huge fan of Barry Anderson’s work we thought it would be such an honor to have him involved with the film festival. After seeing what we were doing for the filmmakers, he was more than happy to be a part of the festival.”
Note from Robert Massetti:
The FREAK SHOW Horror Film Festival has a CALL FOR ENTRIES and is taking feature and short film submissions for the 2014 event. Go to our website for more information at www.freakshowfilmfest.com