Get ready to be scared. Damnationland, Maine’s very own horror film event, is back for it’s fifth year. We spoke with David Meiklejohn, co-founder and filmmaker, about what its like to scare the bejeezus out of Mainers.
Why put on a horror film event?
The whole idea to create Damnationland was because we have a ton of filmmaker friends who were making work, and we wanted more opportunities to show it. We put it forward as a challenge to our community, but also as an effort to organize a creative event.
Are you a major horror film junkie?
Actually, not at all! Eddy Bolz (one of Damnationland’s founders) is the real horror fanatic. I’ve seen a lot of horror films at this point, though. For us, it was less about the genre and more about the challenge aspect to it. It forces you as a filmmaker to experiment, take risks, and learn. If you get too comfortable, your work starts to get stagnant.
What are the requirements for filmmakers who want to be a part of the event?
There isn’t an open submission system. In fact, maybe only one or, at the most, two filmmakers every year have made a horror film [before]. Most come from a non-horror background – from online webisodes to sketch comedies. And they aren’t necessarily avid horror fans either. The few that are make some pretty stunning horror films. The ones who don’t come from a horror background tend to be a little more artsy and a little surprising.
Is this a festival for the folks who want to be super scared – or can a scaredy cat like me handle it too?
Some of them are completely terrifying. You never know what’s going to be scary for somebody. Some people are scared by blood and gore, some by suspense, some by loud noises. Something that we’ve always enjoyed about our program is that there is a film for everybody every single year.
We’ve had everything from a fable to a super gory, hallucinogenic dub-step trip to a disturbing art film that was hard to understand but completely chilling. There is a style in there for everybody. The hardcore horror, the artsy fans, the drama fans — we appeal to everyone.