Interview With Rachel Belofsky
Ryan T. Cusick: I have always been curious, how did you get started and how did you get where you are today?
Rachel Belofsky: So I started back in 2001 after I had finished a documentary called Fast Women, it was a woman in racing documentary. I had sold it to the WE network where it was going to have its national airing and it had been in a festival before that. It was that journey that made me want to start a festival to help filmmakers have their work showcased.
RTC: Has it always been at the Chinese theatre? [6925 Hollywood Boulevard Hollywood, California]
RB: No, our first year we were at the haunted Vogue Theatre in Hollywood which is now called The Supper Club. After that, we were at The Laemmle and Universal City Walk for two years. We ended up at the Chinese in 2006, we’ve been there a long time.
RTC: That’s great. Do you have any plans on leaving?
RB: No we definitely like it at the Chinese, it has a home feel to it and it is centrally located.
RTC: If you could go back, would you change anything if you could do it all over again?
RB: That’s a hard one. No, I don’t think so. The journey has been great. I have been blessed to work with so many wonderful people and the work I have been able to showcase over the years has been fabulous. I am proud of where it is from its origin to where it is now, so, no I don’t think so.
RTC: Very good. What type of preparation goes into ScreamFest? Like prepping for next year for example. What does that all entail?
RB: We’ll have a wrap-up meeting to go over what worked and what didn’t work and we’ll look at what we can do better for the fans and for the filmmakers. After that, we spend the summer months finding the next crop of films to showcase, it’s time-consuming.
RTC: Oh yeah, it sounds like it. [laughs] Does it get easier?
RB: I think that each year has its own challenges. For whatever reason things pop up.
RTC: Most definitely, I guess it keeps you on your toes and is interesting.
RB: It does, it does.
RTC: I know there are many horror festivals around the world, even just in LA I see them pop up, horror festivals in particular. What sets ScreamFest apart from the others?
RB: We believe in champion the independent filmmakers. It is not always about putting the shiniest films out there if that makes sense. It isn’t always about tripping over ourselves to get into the spotlight, it is more of the spotlight that needs to be on the filmmakers.
RTC: What are some of your favorite horror films?
RB: Overall or in the festival?
RTC: Overall, in your personal life.
RB: The Changeling (1980), the George C. Scott film, it is pretty scary. A fun one I’ve seen, A Nightmare On Elm Street. Trick ‘r Treat (2007) the Michael Dougherty film is definitely my all time favorite.
RTC: Yeah that is definitely a good one!
RB: Tucker and Dale Versus Evil.
RTC: What has been the biggest thrill for you at ScreamFest so far? Over the years?
RB: The biggest thrill is being honored to work with, showcase, and meet so many talented filmmakers. It is such a great space where everyone can have the family experience.
RTC: I hadn’t heard about ScreamFest until just a few years ago when I attended the Paranormal Activity The Ghost Dimension premiere and I was really pleased as to how everything was set up, so definitely a good space. Have you noticed any new trends this year in the horror genre? I know that we were getting the found footage deal, has there been anything different this year?
RB: There is less of the found footage films. Everyone is really just trying to capitalize on whatever the newest stuff is.
RTC: I wonder if it will be the slasher film for next years since the new Halloween is coming out?
RB: That would be fun!
RTC: Is there any particular direction that would like to see ScreamFest go within the next few years?
RB: I really just want to continue to be the platform for filmmakers to showcase their films and to allow them to come back every year with their new films and for them to continue to be the rockstars that they are.
RTC: That is awesome. Do you have a lot of people that submit and that do not get in?
RTC: I imagine that there is probably a lot. I know that filmmakers have asked me, “Hey I got this film and I want to put it in a film festival.” I tell em, “hey why not try ScreamFest?”
RB: Thank you
RTC: The award. The ScreamFest award, the design of the skull where did that concept come from?
RB: The amazing Stan Winston!
RTC: Oh, that’s awesome!
RB: When he became my partner we had a different award, it was like a glass skull in a black vase. I wanted to have a redesign. The award just didn’t say “Oscar.” It was pretty amazing he didn’t have to bring in any help. Just how you can see the creative mind coming up an idea and working with it.
RTC: It is really awesome, it is very eye-catching.
RB: Yeah, it is like having a little piece of Stan.
RTC: Oh, definitely. Very eye-popping, especially with all the detail in it. Are those awards given out at the ending ceremony, closing ceremony?
RTC: Is that also at the Chinese Theatre?
RB: No, we will be announcing that venue shortly, we usually do it at a restaurant/bar.
RTC: I know that you are a filmmaker, do you have anything lined up for the future?
RB: Maybe, we have a few things we’re kicking around, it usually just comes down to time. It seems like we have November to early May to actually do anything and then after that, we are back into ScreamFest mode. But yeah, there is something definitely on the list.
RTC: Very good, yeah I know if it’s not time its money but time is a big one. Paranormal Activity was the big discovery for you guys back in 2007, how does it feel to have seen the franchise take off and to exceed everyone’s expectations?
RB: We are really proud! We are really proud of Oren [Peli], he is just a very nice guy. It was awesome to see him blossom from a very unknown filmmaker in San Diego to where he is today.
RTC: It is amazing to see what that series has turned out to be. Was The Ghost Dimension [Paranormal Activity] the only other from the franchise that you had at the Chinese Theaters or did you have others?
RB: Yeah just the first and this last one [The Ghost Dimension].
RTC: Thank you so much for speaking with me!
The festival runs from October 9 thru October 18th, 2018.
- Feature Image Courtesy of iHorror.com/Palumbo Photography