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Screen gems

By LEVI AGEE SPECIAL TO THE DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE

This article was published January 20, 2012 at 2:06 a.m.

— With the Little Rock Horror Picture Show kicking off next month, I sat down with the coordinator and founder of the event, Justin Nickels of the Little Rock Film Festival.

Q. What is the Little Rock Horror Picture Show and how did you get involved with it?

A. The Little Rock Horror Picture Show is a genre film festival presented by the Little Rock Film Festival taking place the weekend of Feb. 17-19 at Market Street Cinema. I have worked with the Little Rock Film Festival since its very first year (and I actually met my wife in year two), and after the fifth successful [festival] I [went] to [LRFF founders] Brent and Craig Renaud with the idea to do a genre film festival.

This festival is different in that it caters to a certain genre as opposed to a more ‘traditional’ festival made up mostly of dramas and art house and indie festival hits. With the Little Rock Horror Picture Show we are [offering] the same high quality level of films but focusing on horror and sci-fi films.

Another difference is that this festival is taking place at Market Street Cinema. Passes for the full weekend of films and parties are $40 and if you buy them now you will get a 10 percent discount on passes for the Little Rock Film Festival when they go on sale in April.

Q. Are filmmakers going to be accompanying any of the films showing?

A. There will be filmmakers in attendance, including the director of Madison County, Eric England, and his producer, Ace Marrero, who also acts in the film. They’re going to be on hand to do Q&A sessions after their film screens. We are really excited to be opening the festival with an Arkansas-made film, especially one getting all the buzz that Madison County is. They premiered to a sold-out crowd at LA Scream Fest [in] October and were the only film at that festival to receive an encore screening!

We are still finalizing some of the other feature filmmakers that we are bringing in, but there are sure to be more, including actor/writer/director Warren McCullough from southern Missouri. His short film Silent Night was shown at the 2010 [Little Rock festival]. He’s in the middle of post production on the feature adaptation of Silent Night and he’s going to talk about the process of turning a short into a feature.

Q. What are some of the films you are most looking forward to seeing on the big screen?

A. I’m really looking forward to seeing The Tunnel on the big screen. When I watched the submissions ... it was one that kept giving me chills, so I imagine it’ll be even better on the big screen! It takes place underneath the city of Sydney, Australia, and it follows a documentary crew as they investigate why the city won’t tap an underground aquifer. It turns the ‘found footage’ convention, which is so popular in horror films right now, on its head. Another one I’m excited about is the film Exit Humanity, a Civil War-era zombie film about a man trying get his son’s ashes across a zombie infested land to finally lay him to rest.

I’m also excited that the Arkansas Filmmakers Forum is sponsoring an event on Feb. 18 at 6 p.m. where wunderkind Les Galusha will talk about special effects and makeup and give some tutorials.

Q. What is it about the genre that attracts you to make a festival around it?

A. I’ve always loved genre films, and one of my favorite films of all time is Ridley Scott’s Alien, which is the perfect blend of sci-fi and haunted house horror. Working with the Little Rock Film Festival the past few years, I have become aware of a lot of other types of festivals all over the globe and gained a general interest in genre films.

This led me to festivals like Fantastic Fest, which is put on by the Alamo Drafthouse and has become one of the most respected in the industry. Some of our films this year were shown at Fantastic Fest in the fall (which also showed Jeff Nichols’ Take Shelter as a part of their lineup), and I realized that, as the Little Rock Film Festival has become a respected name in the world of film festivals, we should be able to also put on an event like this as we become a world-class event and organization.

Levi Agee is a programmer for the Little Rock Film Festival and the founder and host of Cameras on the Radio. E-mail him at:

levifilm@gmail.com

MovieStyle, Pages 35 on 01/20/2012

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