Eerie fest is accepting horror movie submissions

(WJET/WFXP/ — As a child, John Lyons was easily frightened. Not all movies with scary jumps were his jam. But all that has changed in recent years.

“I really get the appeal,” Lyons said of horror movies.

Lyons started attending Eerie Horror Fest simply because it was the only film festival in town, he said. He was always interested in film, but he attended the University of Edinboro for mathematics and computer science (class of 2000). It was when digital advancements arrived in the film industry and digital cameras became commonplace that his interest in filmmaking and his job as a computer scientist collided.

Lyons works at the University of Edinboro’s Technology Help Center.

“The digital age is what, thankfully, brought me back to cinema,” Lyons said. “Then I had an excuse, because if a digital camera broke on campus, I would volunteer to check it, which led to me checking gear for the weekend and making movies.”

It was the Eerie Horror Fest that opened the door to the horror genre for Lyons. He hadn’t paid much attention to it before attending the party.

“I naively thought of it (horror movies) in a way, like women in bikinis being chased,” he said. “Through the Horror Festival I started to get interested in it and realized it was a real opportunity for social commentary – ‘Night of the Living Dead’ and ‘Dawn of the Dead’ “I like films that have something to say. My films take 5 or 6 years from writing, producing and releasing. After spending so much time on a project, to me, that must be saying something.”

Lyons’ most recent film, “Unearth,” was released in 2020. According to IMDB, it’s a horror story about two farming families whose relationship is strained when one leases their land to an oil company. and while drilling, “something long dormant and terrifying”. , deep below the surface of the earth, is released. On April 19, an “ultimate edition” of “Unearth” will be released on Bluray, featuring deleted scenes and a two-hour interview with horror genre star and legend Adrienne Barbeau.

“If you look at a lot of famous filmmakers, early in their career they started out in the horror genre. Peter Jackson (“Lord of the Rings”), Sam Raimi (“Spiderman”) – everyone has a horror movie in his biography,” Lyons said. “It’s a very forgiving genre, and you can definitely have a lot of fun with it. Creativity is kind of limitless, so the sky’s the limit – anything you can think of.

Lyons admits that not everyone will enjoy horror movies.

“But from my own experience, I didn’t start out as a fan, and now I’m a festival director for a horror festival, and my last movie was a horror movie,” Lyons said. “There’s a lot of important work in the genre.”

After 5 years of inactivity from the Eerie Horror Fest, Lyons and his team brought it back to life last year. This year’s festival – officially the “Eerie Horror Film and Gaming Fest” – recently announced that it was accepting applications for the festival scheduled for October 5-8 at the Warner Theater (811 State St. in Erie).

“This year we are looking to partner with the Erie Philharmonic and host an impressive opening event featuring the theater’s new organ,” Lyons said. “It’s opening night, and there are more details to come.”

The Eerie Horror Fest serves dual purposes as both a horror convention – complete with vendors, autographs and keynote speakers – and a traditional film festival, complete with a launch party and afterparty. This year will also include a video game component.

Last year, Lyons said, a panel of keynote speakers focused on how to pitch a project and get it picked up. This year, some filmmakers will have the opportunity to present their candidacy to a panel of industry professionals.

“It’s for people who have a really good idea, they send the first five pages of the script and a pitch deck (often a pdf file with a synopsis, description and comparison films) – if you like the first five pages and the pitch deck, they will be invited to come to Erie and pitch in front of the panel of pros,” Lyons said. “We’re really excited about this.”

While Lyons is the festival director and spokesperson for Eerie Horror Fest, a whole team is working behind the scenes to bring the festival back to life this year. This includes David Bostaph (Director of Operations) and Mark Kosobucki (Creative) who have helped with the festival since before it went dormant. The first Eerie Horror Fest took place in 2004.

“We are building our judging team right now. We have all kinds of judges, not just people from Erie, but also people from the industry,” Lyons said.

Submissions accepted for screening during the October festival will receive a complimentary hotel stay.

“We want more movies to be shot in Erie, so we’re trying to get them here, get them drinking and dining, show them the area, and hopefully get them to showcase the area,” Lyons said. “We just announced the festival on Monday (March 14), and we already have a bunch of submissions from all over the United States. No international submissions yet, but we’re accepting submissions from anywhere.”

The film categories are Narrative Feature Films, Narrative Short Films, Documentary Short Films, and Documentary Feature Films.

The pre-registration deadline is April 30, the normal deadline is June 30, and the late deadline is July 31. The notification will be made on September 5.

According to a press release, “The Eerie Horror Fest is presented by the Film Society of Northwestern Pennsylvania, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. The mission of the Film Society of Northwestern Pennsylvania is to elevate the motion picture industry of Erie, to empower regional filmmakers and to foster patronage for the art of cinema.

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For more information and to submit, head to the Eerie Horror Fest website.

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