horrible imaginings

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!

Catch the film next at:

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

Horrible Imaginings Film Festival

This past weekend, "Night In" screened at the Horrible Imaginings Film Festival. "Hello" screened last year and a few people emailed me to tell me how much they loved the short. So when I got in again this year, I knew I wanted to attend! Thanks to my job at Seed&Spark and the festival director enthusiastically agreeing to offer the Crowdfunding class I teach, I was able to attend the entire festival. Of the 60ish shorts, I saw 45! And I saw 4 out of the 5 in competition features. Every screening had at least 40 people in the audience, most had more. The films were all excellent. I have truly never seen better overall programming, especially at a horror festival. So much thought was put into the thematic blocks. And while I typically can't stand sitting through 10+ shorts in a row, I easily did that with these lineups because they were so engaging, fun, and thought provoking. The production quality and storytelling quality were high all around. And thankfully, unlike so many non-women-specific genre fests I've been to, there was no exploitative violence against women! That's always a worry (that often comes true) when sitting through horror lineups. My only issue is that not one of the 5 features was directed by a woman OR person of color. I know they had to work with their submissions, but considering I found the features to be the weak spot (only 2 out of 4 I saw were solid) of otherwise excellent programming, it's frustrating that they couldn't be more inclusive with them. The LGBT block feature (the strongest feature and a real show of commitment to inclusion), for instance, was not a submission but a recommendation by co-sponsors The Two Gay Geeks; so it's unclear to me why they accepted 2 mediocre (all-white and very male dominated, btw) features instead of inviting a deserving woman-directed (ideally WOC-directed) film, even if out of competition. All of that said, the shorts were wonderfully diverse and I truly loved getting to be part of the festival. I don't usually comment on the programming of a fest because I usually have negative opinions best kept to myself. But in this case, because it was so close to perfect, I had to bring this up. I hope next year is as well done but just more inclusive on the feature front! And I know Miguel Rodriguez, the festival director, will pay attention to that. He's truly a wonderful human being who has such energy and puts his whole heart into this fest. It really shows. It's one of the only festivals I've been to with no tech issues and was always on time. Miguel makes every filmmaker feel seen and appreciated. And he's just so genuine and thoughtful. He puts on a great show! And the way the community comes out to support is really inspiring and exciting.

As for my actual screening. I was in a fun block called Dark Wish Fulfillment. It had 10 shorts total and was the biggest Q&A with the highest filmmaker turnout -- 8/10 were there. We had over 60 people in the audience. Unfortunately, with such a big group in the Q&A and very little time for each film, I didn't really get to talk about my film - which was disappointing. I think being so short and in the middle of the lineup made us a bit overshadowed. But I was honored to be in such excellent company. And people did come over after to say they loved the twist. And it got HUGE laughs at all the right moments, so that was fun to watch with an audience. Overall, I'm grateful to have screened in this beautiful venue as part of such a great fest. And on top of that, I got to spend 2 days hanging out with fellow filmmaker friend Kim Garland (who recently moved from NY to LA) because her excellent short, "Body Image," also screened -- in the block before mine! I definitely hope to attend again next year!