Welcome to another installment of 31 Days of Halloween! This is our chance to set the mood for the spookiest and scariest month of the year as we focus our attention on horror and Halloween fun. For the month of October we’ll be sharing various pieces of underappreciated scary books, comics, movies, and television to help keep you terrified and entertained all the way up to Halloween.
This year has been filled with stories of venues, theaters, sports, amusement parks, and other forms of entertainment all having to shut down. Many have reopened to little success. One of the things hit hardest was conventions and festivals. Quite simply, there was no realistic story way to safely hold the large gatherings. Virtual was the obvious way to go. But how would you replicate the unique festival feel?
Many cons and fests have tried to continue on in the virtual space. Some of them have done a great job of it. No one has done a better job of delivering fests during this time than genre film festivals. In May, the Chattanooga Film Fest was held. Using a combination of platforms, the fest did as much as possible to provide festival goers the live feel. Microsoft Teams was used to host the various panels. This was a great decision that gave attendees a chance to attend panels with others. It was different, but it still gave the opportunity to participate in events and Q&As.
Towards the end of summer, the Fantasia Film Fest took things to another level. Along with presenting a streaming option, Q&As were put on YouTube. These were free for all to watch. They also had a Discord channel that created a lobby for festival attendees to meet in. The conversation that spills out of theaters and into lobbies was recreated. Filmmakers would also enter the Discord, adding to the fun.
A Celebration of Fantastic Fest was another fun genre film fest that added a new twist. Using Scener, the event was able to capture the feel of attending an Alamo event. Movies were introduced by creators and Alamo staff, there was a chat to talk with other attendees while in the virtual theater, and they even had the fun pre show and bumpers that the Alamo is known for. It brought the theater experience that much closer to home.
Recently, five genre fests came together to put on the Nightstream Film Fest. Along with holding late night after parties and events, the fest screened films on Eventive. This app is supported by many devices and provided one of the smoothest viewing experiences of any film festival this year. Small things like having a commercial before the movie started added to the feel of being at a festival.
Entertainment has been greatly affected by the events of 2020. Genre film fests have done everything they can to support the ecosystem of independent genre film. The organizers of these events have been willing to take bold risks and try new things in order to help fans of these festivals still enjoy the events they love so much. As things continue to change, genre fests have provided a blueprint on how to ensure the show goes on.
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