Review Fix chats with Chris McClennan, who tells us what makes the Phoenix FearCon Online a special event and more.
About Phoenix FearCon:
Phoenix FearCON, a staple for horror fans in the Southwest for years, bringing horror fans an eclectic variety of celebrity guests, panels and an independent film festival touting cutting-edge cinematic works of all varieties from around the globe, will now go online with a program of events and movies projected to attract nearly 1 million visitors and viewers.
Taking safety and social distancing to a new level, the ninth annual celebration of all things horror will go live starting October 16 and will continue until the end of 2020. FearCon’s virtual platform will escort their audience through a maze of visionary films from new and emerging cinematic artists as well as panels, lectures, workshops, and demonstrations from industry professionals and some familiar names.
Review Fix: What was the inspiration for this project?
Chris McClennan: In 2006, we decided to go ahead and do our own film festival with the intention of exploring independent film and film makers.
Our intentions were not just to show their films, which, if you look at statistics, a very large percentage of films shown at festivals are never seen or heard from again and we found that statistic very unfair.
At Phoenix FearCON, we have partnered up with several Film Distribution companies, who distribute on a multitude of platforms globally.
Our partnership with these companies has given us the advantage of offering the winners of our festival a promise by our partner companies to distribute their films worldwide and get the recognition they so clearly deserve.
Review Fix: What’s your process/criteria in choosing films?
McClennan: At Phoenix FearCON, we rely on the input we receive from several judges, whose opinions we trust before making a final decision. We watch all the submissions and grade them according to several factors: Storyline, Direction, FX, Actors, and Cinematography. All the factors, including budget is taken into consideration before a final decision is made.
Review Fix: What makes this festival different or special?
McClennan: Over the years, we decided to include a very interactive experience for horror film fans, and made the festival very like a convention.
We’ve included Workshops, Panel Discussions, Interactive Photo Ops with CosPlayers and Sideline Entertainers as well as a wonderful Marketplace full of unique vendors to sell their wares and collectibles to their specific target audience. All of this in addition to screening 8-10 Feature Films and 20-30 Short films. It made for a long 2-3 days as a physical event, but it was well worth it in our eyes.
In addition to their prize of a distribution contract, Chris makes the trophies herself for each of the categories, so filmmakers who win the event have a tangible, unique reminder that their hard work, the blood, sweat and tears that went into making their project was important and won’t be forgotten.
Review Fix: What did you learn about yourself through this process of turning it virtual?
McClennan: What we’ve learned along the way is that it is imperative that you are able to roll with the punches, to think outside the box and to be able to give your fans an event they will always remember. Covid-19 put a dent in the entertainment industry, but we refuse to let it take us down.
We had to learn quickly how to do everything virtually and still keep the fans interested.
Review Fix: What are your ultimate goals for the future?
McClennan: As fans of films and film making, we used to attend film festivals for years. Every time we would go, we would talk about what would make this festival, or that festival better and we started making a list: “If we ran a film festival, what would it be like?” We would add to that wish list each time we went to another festival. We hope that FearCON’s future is to eventually do a FearCON in several cities.
Our goal number is 12 cities, so that every month, there will be a FearCON happening somewhere.
We want to share the love of horror nationwide, and maybe at some point, worldwide.
We will probably continue to do the virtual con so that we can share this event Globally at least virtually for now.
Review Fix: What’s next?
McClennan:Our hope is that next FearCON for 2021 will be live and virtual at the same time. We want fans who are able to come here to experience the hands on approach, the photo ops, the CosPlayers, the entertainment, the meet and greet and also getting to meet the film makers in person and possibly seeing the start of a future genius film maker as they start their journey here. And those that are unable to come can also enjoy the event online virtually.