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Phil Ilson
The Halloween Society

Short film had taken a back seat; Halloween was no longer being sent short films, and our connection with the genre was fading. I’d moved my Halloween office to a small room above the 333 club and throughout this period, small Halloween short film screenings were held in various venues from the Rhythm Factory in Whitechapel, to Dan’s Embassy bar, to the Ritzy Cinema Café, and to 333 in Shoreditch, but they all seemed half-hearted. Ironically, the Croydon Clocktower arts centre had received funding to have four Halloween events per year over a couple of years, and although audiences were tough to get in Croydon, the highpoint was the incredible sold-out American Teens event with shorts from Spike Jonze and Mike Mills. It was also a period of one-offs, which included a multi-media event at the newly opened Lux Cinema in Hoxton Square, short film screenings in pubs in Norwich with Rose Hanna who eventually founded the Norwich Animation Festival, the opening night of skateboard documentary ‘Dogtown and Z Boys’ at The Other Cinema, programming films and multi-media activity for summer music festivals such as Glastonbury, the Big Chill, and Mean Fiddler Leeds, a Hitchcock spectacular at the soon-to-be-demolished Gainsborough Studios in Shoreditch, a series of cult feature film nights at the Scala in Kings Cross, and trips to Latvia, Switzerland and Llandudno!

In 2003, Sean McClusky had brought his successful Sonic Mook Experiment club night for a short season at the ICA and asked me to supply a late night short film programme to screen in the cinema there, so as to act as a chill-out space. I programmed retrospectives of Andrew Kotting, Tim Hope and Vito Rocco, which caught the eye of ICA Head of Cinema Jane Giles, and she offered Halloween a monthly ICA cinema slot. After a few screenings, including a successful Domino Records retrospective just as their new signing Franz Ferdinand were taking off, I felt that a monthly was too much. I had started discussion with Kate Taylor about an annual film festival idea; Kate had worked with me as a temp in my final year at the British Council, and she had then gone on to study film at Farnham, and continued to become more involved in Halloween during this period.

Flyer for American Teens
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