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Phil Ilson
The Halloween Society

In discussion with Jane at the ICA, myself and Kate decided to set up the Halloween Short Film Festival to take place in January 2004; it was to be a mix of the traditional film festival model, in that we would have a ‘call for submissions’ and cinema-based screenings, but as we were Halloween and had this long history of multi-media, we would also bring in live music and events that mix film and visual, as the ICA with it’s various spaces was perfect for this. I also felt that marketing was integral to making a Festival stand out, and ironically we geared our publicity and flyers to a more punk d.i.y ethic that we’d always tried to distance ourselves from when we first started out up against the anti-corporate ethics of Exploding Cinema. Kate’s background in fanzine design was integral to this punk rock feel. After the second Festival in January 2005, as newly appointed Short Film Programmer at the Curzon Soho Cinema, I helped set up the first Short Film Summer School, as well as bringing some of the 3rd Halloween Short Film Festival in January 2006 to the Curzon, stretching it across two venues.

London 2006 definitely has a different feel to the climate when we started in 1994. Ironically, Exploding Cinema continues regular open access screenings in exactly the same organisational ways as when I first attended, and although Omsk and My Eyes My Eyes continue irregularly, the short film clubs that do exist out there are treating their screenings as a commercial enterprise. Biggest is Futureshorts who set up regular screenings in arthouse cinemas a few years ago and have now expanded worldwide and with a distribution arm, although they also programme the monthly Rock N Roll Cinema at 93 Feet East in Brick Lane which runs on the Halloween film club model with drinking and music. Bitesize Cinema also has plans to take short film programmes into the multiplexes. Halloween continues to be involved in one-offs, and maybe one of these will blossom into the next regular on-going event; for example in 2006, I’ve been heavily involved in the animate! agenda co-ordinating touring screenings and events. But the plan is to continue the annual Halloween Short Film Festival to make it bigger and better.

Phil Ilson
2004 ICA Halloween brochure cover
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