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The International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival: The Transition Years


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I'm involved with a lot of film festivals beyond just attending and watching as many films as I can. I screen submissions, I program selections, I judge competitions and I write coverage for the press. I also review as many festival films as I can as a film critic. Recently, I've even set up my own event, the Apocalypse Later International Fantastic Film Festival.

This book grew out of a number of those roles, but especially the one of the regular attendee. The International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival has been my favourite film festival since it became my first, back in 2007, when my better half and I found a mention of it online somewhere and checked it out. We didn't understand everything that was going on but we knew that we loved it and we haven't stopped going back ever since.

The biggest problem with the festival isn't actually with the festival at all. It's what happens after the festival is over for the year and everyone gets some sleep. It also affects most festivals out there, not just this one.

Over the years, I came to realise that some of the films that I had thoroughly enjoyed at the festival had effectively and gradually ceased to exist. Film festival websites roll over to the next event and forget the last. Domains lapse, if they were set up to begin with. IMDb pages aren't always created. Features don't always land distribution deals and short films don't always get uploaded to Vimeo or YouTube. Sometimes my review of a film is the only one to be found online.

Films are made to be seen. They can't be seen if we don't know that they exist. This book, which reviews every feature and every short to play the International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival during the three years from 2011 to 2013, is a line in the sand to say that these films exist. They were made by a production company, they played at a festival, they were seen by an audience. Often their filmmakers attended and gave Q&As. Sometimes they won awards. I feel that they deserve to be remembered and by more than just me.

Hopefully this book will help to keep these films alive and remembered.

The reason for the subtitle is that I see the evolution of this festival in three year chunks:

Foreword and Afterword

I knew that this book, as a line in the sand, was even more historical in nature than my previous books, so wanted to anchor my text with a foreword and afterword by others. The choices were easy.

Mike Flanagan has become a major name in the horror genre with features like Oculus, Hush and Before I Wake. However, I first met him at the International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival, as he supported the screening in competition of his previous feature, Absentia, which is my favourite genre film of the last decade (I'm honoured to be quoted on the British DVD and BluRay releases alongside legendary critic and kazoo player, Kim Newman).

Absentia screened in 2011 and it was frought with problems. The lady who introduced it pronounced the title wrong and there were sound issues throughout the screening, bad enough that Mike had to leave his own flim. Yet, he returned in 2014 with Oculus, screening as a showcase feature just before its wide release, and everything was seamless. I felt that, from these two wildly different experiences, he'd be able to speak to the event like no other filmmaker. He wrote a wonderful foreword, which filled in a lot of gaps for me!

The afterword was always going to be by Andrea Canales, who as Andrea Beesley-Brown, the Midnite Movie Mamacita, was my gateway into the local film scene. I met her at the International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival, back in 2007, by accident, as one of her friends heard my mix of English accents and thought I was a Kiwi like her.

At the time, she was running a repertory film series in Chandler that focused on classic genre film. My wife and I promptly devoted a good part of our lives to watching as much as possible of what she threw onto the big screen. That led us directly into much of what else we've done over the last decade, including this book.

Andrea also has a major tie to this film festival because she was the program director during this period, responsible for programming the showcase features and bringing out guests. She kindly contributed my afterword, which wraps up the book nicely.

Films Covered

Here's a complete list of chapters which detail the films included:




Cover Art

Choosing a cover artist for this book was a lot easier than doing so for the last three. I only ever had one choice, Marty Freetage of Freetage Designs, who is one of the best and surely the most prominent graphic artist working in the Phoenix cultural scene.

I first encountered his work in the form of posters for the International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival, but he soon showed up everywhere. He handles the graphics for Phoenix Comicon, Phoenix FearCon, the Phoenix Film Festival, Phoenix Fear and this genre sidekick, among many others.

I wanted something that looked like a book rather than a poster, but still stood out as an image. I also wanted it to be flexible enough to be re-used with subtle differences for the other books I'll write around this festival.

I'm really happy with what he came up with. The logo in yellow stands out wonderfully, the tape that carries the subtitle is even more obvious and the bloodspattered texture behind it all gives it flavour and depth. We should be able to easily shift the background colour to a different leather shade and swap out the tape for the other books.

Layout Notes

Since my first two books, I've switched from OpenOffice to LibreOffice, but otherwise the layout details are identical. I still like free software (free as in both beer and speech), so LibreOffice on Linux is the way to go.

It's typeset in Gentium, which is a open source font, released under the SIL Open Font License, which means that it can be used, modified and redistributed for free.

Creative Commons

Current copyright law in the US tells me that I should be able to profit from my work until 75 years after I've been buried. I don't buy into that because copyright was always intended to benefit the public (not creators) by ensuring a constant flow of work into the public domain where the public could do whatever they liked with it. It's how Disney got famous! To ensure that creators kept creating, it also gave them a temporary monopoly on their work, which was originally 14 years. If I couldn't make money off a book in 14 years, then let the public have their turn.

I toyed with the idea of copyrighting my books for 14 years and then releasing them into the public domain, but quickly realised I'd never remember to do that. Instead, I chose to license my books through Creative Commons, using the CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 copyleft license. That means that you are legally allowed to copy and distribute them, with my blessing, as long as you:

Free Download

So please download a PDF of The International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival: The Transition Years from the link below, read it and share it with others so that it can reach as wide an audience as possible. Remember, piracy is not the enemy; obscurity is the enemy!

Buy a Print Copy

Of course, I don't get paid anything from a free download so, if you enjoy the book, please consider buying a print copy to show your appreciation and help me pay my bills. If you don't have room for dead tree products, then please consider buying a print copy for a friend or donate one to a library instead. Either way, I get paid and someone gets to read a good book.

New copies are available for $17.99 at Amazon.com.

If you're in the UK, the book is £12.99 at Amazon.co.uk. It should also become available from the various other Amazon sites.

Signed copies are available from the Dog Eared Pages used bookstore in Phoenix. Trust me, it would not be a hardship for me to travel to a great used bookstore to replenish my stock!

Review the Book

Even if you only read the free PDF, please consider writing a review of it on Amazon.com. Reviews are like gold at Amazon, who will promote books which have obtained enough of them. Getting fifty reviews at Amazon would be like a Christmas present to me.

Of course, the same goes for other independent authors too. If you review their books at Amazon as well as mine, you can help to make it Christmas every month in indie world and we'll love you all the more!

Other Details

The Transition Years is my fourth book but the third to be published. It's also the first volume in my Festival series that covers often neglected festival movies. Other technical details are:

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