A crowd shot at Horror Fest

There are two ways to solve any problem. You can throw money at it or you can get creative. Heavy Hitting HorrorFest is all about the second option. Says Whistler Filmmaker Feet Banks

Billed as an orgy of gore-soaked cinema and DIY mayhem the Heavy Hitting HorrorFest celebrates its 13th incarnation this October 30 as 1100 costumed fans and filmmakers will congregate in the Fairmont Chateau Whistler Resort to watch 21 local and independent short horror films on four giant screens.

As Banks says, “Budgets may be low but creativity will be high”.

Photo collage from Whistler HorrorFest.

Costumes, awards, fun and, of course, horror aplenty at the Whistler HorrorFest.

(Whistler artist) Chili Thom and I started this as an excuse to make a movie and inspire other people to make movies. It was really just an excuse to have fun and try stuff and learn to make better movies by making better movies.

It worked. Combined with far-less-bloody-but-equally-creative Whistler film events like the World Ski & Snowboard Festival 72-Hour Filmmaker Showdown, Horrorfest has helped the Sea to Sky filmmaking community blossom into a respected and award-winning group of artists.

HorrorFest alumni and born-and-raised Whistler kid Peter Harvey screened some of his first films at HorrorFest before moving on to produce feature films. In 2012 Harvey returned home to the Whistler Film Festival and his film, Picture Day, won the Borsos Award for Best Canadian Feature.

That kind of thing is what really keeps the Fest going. It’s always been a labour of love and a hell of a lot of work to put together but when you see local talent like Peter Harvey, or Lauren Graham who won the first ever Horrorfest, or Merritt Patterson, who is a crazy-awesome actress now… to know that our little festival played a role in helping them succeed, that is what really keeps us going.

Whistler-born actress Merritt Patterson.

Whistler-born actress Merritt Patterson.

Much of the power and appeal of the Heavy Hitting HorrorFest lies in those filmmakers who submit and the local fans who support it. “My first year was mind-blowing,” says Vancouver filmmaker and 2013 HorrorFest champion Gigi Saul Guerroro. Guerrero was just a 19-year-old film student when she submitted and attended the festival in 2010 and got her first taste of the rabid Whistler audience. “I have never been to a place where people are so passionate to watch a movie. They scream and yell and cheer, it just pumps you up. And the local filmmakers are not afraid to just be totally out there, to throw their film to a whole different level.”

Guerroro and her team at LuchaGore Productions returned and took “Best in Show” honours (and the coveted Silver Skull Trophy) in 2013 and their success continued at film festivals around the globe.

This year she’s back in Whistler premiering a new film that’s bigger, bolder and bloodier than anything she’s ever done. Guerrero explains…

There is a bit of everything in this festival. Some lower budget films and some that have a bit more, but the one thing they all have in common is the quality of entertainment, and that is one thing I appreciate. That is the goal of a horror film if you can make the crowd cheer then you did the job right.

With 21 films slated for 2014’s Revenge of the Heavy Hitting HorrorFest, Gibbons Life is helping coordinate the event and beefing up the “Best In Show” award. Some lucky filmmaker will be taking home a briefcase full of cash, $2000 in total – that buys a lot of homemade blood ingredients.

– Juan Hitta

Head on a table at Horror Fest


Gibbons Whistler

Gibbons has been celebrating with people since 1979. We operate venues, run festivals, brew beer, talk travel and throw parties.