The Gaze

Sick Chick Flicks Film Festival Recap

I just finished my weekend at Sick Chick Flicks Film Festival in Cary, North Carolina where “The Gaze” screened. This was my third year with a film in the festival but my first time attending. I’m glad I finally got to experience it. Overall, I had a nice time. There were only a handful of filmmakers in attendance, so while not watching films, I mostly experienced a quiet weekend exploring what turned out to be a really cute town.

As for the fest itself, you can tell it’s run by filmmakers because the picture and sound projection of all films were excellent. It’s also held in a beautiful venue, The Cary Theater. The festival is not as well attended as it should be. The festival staff seems to do a good job promoting it. But I think it hasn’t gotten the word of mouth it needs just yet. My screening had 35 people, and it was the most attended block as a whole. What’s nice, though, is that all but 5 people in the audience seemed to be locals not affiliated with the festival, so the films definitely reached people they probably wouldn’t otherwise. I hope that as the fest grows (it’s only in its 4th year) locals will come out to see the films.

My block had 11 shorts in it and I really appreciated that my film and the one other with filmmakers in attendance were programmed at the end so that they were fresh in the attendees’ minds for the Q&A. The Q&A itself was very brief, unfortunately, but I did get cool compliments one-on-one after. My favorite moment was 2 girls, one in high school and another in middle school, coming over after to tell me how much they enjoyed my movie and that they’re both aspiring filmmakers. It was also cool being reunited with Dycee Wildman & Jennifer Bonier in the same block with their short “Coming Alive.” Their previous film “Inside The House” was one of my favorites in 2017, which I saw at Ax Wound 2 years ago.

Other highlights:

  • getting to see festival director Christine Parker again, who I worked with at my old job I Was There Film Workshops

  • making new filmmaker friends, like Trinity Vélez-Justo, who gave a great presentation on the significance of sound & music in horror

  • watching 4 compelling pitches all by women in horror where the fest awarded one $400 from the festival’s ticket sales

  • and finally getting to meet & spend time with Megan Peterson, who drove from Wilmington to see my short and my Crowdfunding presentation. I helped launch her crowdfunding campaign for her feature Drought back in 2017, and she’s now joining my education team at Seed&Spark.


Local Vegan Treat:

  • I didn’t really find anything great but they at least had food options that weren’t just chains!

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Fem.Cine.Anarchy Recap

Last Thursday, I attended a screening of “The Gaze” as part of Fem.Cine.Anarchy in Portland, Maine. Fem.Cine.Anarchy is a free popup screening event celebrating "diverse, intersectional, edgy, female-driven, short narrative films, directed by female-identified persons." It’s run by Kate Kaminski, the founder and festival director of the now discontinued but well-remembered and recognized Bluestocking Film Series; and it was born out of the #DirectedByWomen celebration every September. I had such a great time at Bluestocking last year (screening “Enough”), that I knew I wanted to submit “The Gaze” and attend anything affiliated with it and Kate. I was really honored to be one of only 9 selections for the event.

It’s not an official festival, really just a single night out for locals to discover and enjoy some films that they’d probably never see otherwise. None of the other filmmakers were planning to attend, so I knew it wouldn’t be the kind of screening with a Q&A or for-filmmakers feel (though Bluestocking definitely was). It’s ultimately for film-lovers in the community, which I was totally down for because, Bluestocking aside, I also really loved the vibe in Portland last year and wanted to go back. So, I figured Justin & I could just make a min-vacation out of it with the mindset of getting a break from NYC at a time that happened to coincide with this little screening. Considering that, it really exceeded my expectations. The venue, on Slab’s outdoor patio, was great. They have excellent pizza (with an amazing vegan special), which was a surprise for us New Yorkers. And the space was really well equipped for the screening. The picture quality was solid and the sound was really good upfront where we sat. And best of all, despite it being a very chilly evening, people really turned up! There were over 50 people there who stayed through the end even though it was basically freezing below 60 degrees by the end of the evening, which is a real testament to the quality of the lineup and the communal atmosphere Kate has created over the years through Bluestocking and this pop-up. Overall, in spite of a bit of shivering, we had a wonderful time. It was so lovely to see Kate and her partner Betsy again, and to get such fun reactions from the audience as a whole.

Our short time in Portland after the screening was also a treat. Our one full day there had great weather (it’s a little unfortunate that the evening before wasn’t as warm - but at least it didn’t rain), so we were able to walk around a ton. Some highlights were seeing the local passion for progress and change during the Climate Strike at Portland’s City Hall, grabbing delicious donuts at The Holy Donut (they’re made from potatoes yet so light and fluffy), spending some time by the water, and happening across an unexpected concert in the little park outside our hotel where a community dance class showed off their skills. It was a fun trip. I definitely recommend checking out Fem.Cine.Anarchy next year if you’re in the mood for a breather by the water in a cool little city with a night out featuring an entertaining and thoughtful selection of shorts. 


Local Vegan Treat:

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Horrible Imaginings Film Festival Recap

I spent the weekend at Horrible Imaginings Film Festival for the premiere of my new short “The Gaze.” Including my film, I saw 42 out of the 50 shorts and 3 out of the 5 features; and I attended the 60th anniversary screening of The Tingler (with Percepto —it was SO fun)! There’s no other festival where I could sit through that many consecutive films and still want more. Their programming beats pretty much every other festival I attend because they not only care about production value and put storytelling above all, they also make inclusion and contemporary social issues a major aspect of their programming. Every single block is put together so thoughtfully. It’s truly amazing. I walk away from every block having experienced so much engagement on an emotional and physical level, and with so much to ponder. Unlike so many (male-run) genre festivals, this one doesn’t have gratuitous violence against women or mindless exploitation flicks. It’s incredibly intentionally programmed, and I just really respect how well films are selected and paired together. I attended for the first time back in 2017 and absolutely loved it. You can read me rave about the festival as a whole in that post as well. For new aspects that stood out this year, there’s the change to a more centrally located & genre-friendly venue and, given the current state of the world and the various human rights violations happening in our backyards, the programming was particularly political, which for me led to a more thought-provoking and visceral viewing experience. So many of the films are still lingering in my mind in the best way.


The thing that makes the festival really special, though, is its director Miguel Rodriguez. During his introduction of The Tingler (a moment I hope was captured and will be posted on their site) , Miguel talked about how when watching William Castle speak at the beginning of the movie, it’s so clear that you’re watching someone who passionately loves what he does and gets such joy out of it. That’s what I feel is so evident when you see Miguel speak during every single instance throughout the festival. He clearly cares so much and is very apparently having a ton of fun despite the overwhelming amount of work that goes into running such a well-executed festival. He has such a warmth to him that immediately makes people feel like family. And his ability to talk in depth about every single film, and in such a genuine way, makes a filmmaker feel truly seen and appreciated. It is such a gift to be part of the festival. I hope to attend as often as I can in future years.

As for my actual screening, it went super well! It was an incredibly powerful lineup of shorts that all explored systemic issues in some way. I wasn’t sure what to expect out of the first Saturday screening at 11am, but it ended up being the most attended block because it not only included the most films in one (11 shorts), it also included at least 3 local films. So there were over 100 people in house (the other blocks seemed to range from 50 to 75). The downside though was that, because there were so many people on stage, there wasn’t time for a substantial Q&A. While all other blocks averaged 3 filmmakers in attendance and each got very personalized and specific questions before opening it to the audience, we, unfortunately, only got a general inspiration question with time for only a couple more from the audience. I didn’t get to discuss the craft the way I’d hoped, which was disappointing (not just for me and my film but I also so wanted to hear more from the other filmmakers on stage with me). I don’t blame the festival for handling it that way. It’s just an unfortunate tradeoff for the larger crowd. That said, “The Gaze” got some great (audible!) audience reactions, and many people came over after to compliment the film. Overall, it was an awesome premiere and such a fun weekend!


Local Vegan Treat:

  • Munchies Vegan Diner is delicious! I have to shoutout specifically, though, Mylk Nut’s Lavender Almond Milk drink. I was never a milk drinker pre being vegan, and as one I rarely want to drink milk alternatives outside of coffee or tea. But I tried this milk and I was legit addicted the whole time I was there. I wish it was sold outside of Southern California!

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P.S. Check out the festival’s wrap-up for shoutouts to the rest of their team that made it such a success!