KHFF Director William Mahaffey on Grindhouse “Grind-out” and the short film festival that has exploded into a yearly must for Horror enthusiasts!
What sets your festival apart from other festivals?
One thing that sets our fest apart is that we place a big emphasis on short films. We started out as a short film fest only and have slowly grown into showing features. We also focus on making sure all of the films we play are fun in one way or another, so the audience has a good time spending their whole weekend in a movie theater. We try to think of a film screening as an event and not just watching a movie.
Do you have a favorite film that has showcased at your Festival?
We've shown so many films that have gone on to become personal favorites, that it's hard to say. If I had to chose one I would say "Excision" from director Ricky Bates. It's a favorite on one hand because it's just an excellent film and on the other because we showed the short film version at our very first fest and then went on to show the feature and this year we're showing the director's second feature, "Suburban Gothic." So it's been fun personally to see a filmmaker grow and continue to show his work as he does.
Is there something in particular that you look for in submissions? Or are there multiple factors?
As I said earlier, we try to take into consideration that people are going to be sitting in a theater for large amounts of time, watching multiple films. Because of this you have to consider not only how the film plays on it's own, but how it will play in the grand scheme of things. You have to balance it all out so the audience doesn't get bored or tired and not enjoy themselves.
What is your goal for your festival?
We would like to continue to grow the fest and eventually and be able to have a festival as large and fun as something like Fantastic Fest in Austin, Midnight Madness in Toronto, Beyond Fest in LA or one of the many other great genre festivals.
Do you have an interesting story that has taken place during a past festival?
There have been lots of crazy fun things happen in the 6 years we've been doing the festival. Maybe the craziest is during a screening of low budget movie about monsters wrestling called "Monster Brawl," we set up a wrestling ring at the venue and got a makeup artist to turn local wrestlers into monsters so we could have live monsters wrestling before and after the movie. These wrestlers were used to playing at flea markets in East Tennessee, so they unfortunately were used employing a lot of homophobic jokes in their act. It was business as usual for them, but because they were now playing to an intelligent and artistic film crowd, it was creating an incredibly uncomfortable situation that seemed like it could escalate easily. Thankfully they didn't keep it up for too long, but it made for one of the most memorable screenings we've ever done.
How is your festival received locally?
We've had a surprisingly enthusiastic audience from the get go. When I started this fest, it wasn't planned to be a yearly thing, but it went so well right off the bat that it was clear there were a lot of people in Knoxville ready for something like this. We've had growing attendance each year. The best response we get locally s from our filmmaking competition, the Grindhouse Grind-Out. We give people 6 days and 66 minutes to make a grindhouse trailer and it is one of the most attended and rowdiest events at the festival. It's a lot of fun.
Where do you see or would like to see your Festival in 5 years?
Hopefully we'll be having a week long fest packed with guests and the best new genre films available!
Knoxville Horror Film Festival
October 24-26, 2014