Q&A du C-U: B. Wolford on DZFF

“Five for Filmmaking,” Part 3
A short interview with Bryan Wolford of the Drunken Zombie Film Festival

by Jason Pankoke

Due to production delays on our end, C-U Confidential #7 will street a little too late to give our dearest readers the advance scoop on a grouping of fall season film festivals taking place within close proximity on the calendar and geographically to Champaign-Urbana. Therefore, we counter with companion coverage to achieve the same goal, presenting exclusively on C-U Blogfidential the full conversations we had with festival representatives for the article. This is the third of five entries.

In the middle of the pack, and also the last one to commence this weekend, is the 5th annual Drunken Zombie Film Festival at the Landmark Cinemas, 3225 N. Dries Lane, in Peoria. Founder Bryan Wolford and his Drunken Zombie posse, who also oversee a year-round horror culture podcast and monthly movie double features, will present a horde of scrappy, aggressive, sometimes funny shorts and features later today, Saturday, November 2, from 12 p.m. to Midnight, and tomorrow, Sunday, November 3, from 12 to 5 p.m. Day passes for DZFF will run $15 for Saturday, $10 for Sunday, and $20 for the weekend.

We recently stopped dead in our tracks to talk Drunken with Wolford, who demonstrates through his event –the only one of its kind in downstate Illinois – an enthusiasm akin to the best dyed-in-the-wool genre fans.

Read on, MacDuff Macabre…

C-U Blogfidential: We appreciate you chatting up the next Drunken Zombie Film Festival with us, Bryan! For starters, how do you believe DZFF separates itself from the pack of horror film fests out there in the universe?

Bryan Wolford: Our festivals are all about the filmmakers. We don’t charge an entry fee to submit films. We do everything in our power to get the film in front of a rabid base of horror fans who want to see something besides what Hollywood keeps churning out.

If you attend the Drunken Zombie Film Festival, you’re guaranteed to see something you might have never known existed. We’ve had people walking out of the theater after a movie was over and asking us where they could buy them. Filmmakers all over the world are happy to tell us they had many inquiries after our festival by people wanting to buy a copy of their film. It’s really a win for everyone involved.

Despite the name of the festival, we’re actually an all-over horror festival and not just zombies!

CUBlog: From where do you unearth the selections of Drunken Zombie?

BW: We get films from Europe, South America, Asia, et cetera. Some of our favorites from years past have been foreign films.

CUBlog: Are there certain films scheduled for this year you feel are exceptional or best embody the embalmed spirit of DZFF?

BW: This year, we’re happy to say FOUND is one of the more exciting films we’ll be showing. It was filmed in Indiana and is just a gut punch of a movie. Then, on the other hand, we have a film from a frequent DZFF alum called THE GIANT SPIDER. This film comes from Christopher R. Mihm, who does these throwbacks to 1950s sci-fi and horror films. Those are always a crowd pleaser and a great, fun time.

CUBlog: Which have been the craziest films and experiences to take a bite out of DZFF to date?

BW: The craziest film we’ve shown is THE TAINT, which is a movie about a tainted water supply that turned people into zombies. But, it’s just an all-over crazy movie with exploding male genitalia. Yes, you read that right! They [eventually] got distributed by Troma Films, if that tells you anything about the tone of the film. I loved sitting in the back watching everyone’s reactions.

The craziest experience would have to be that at last year’s film festival, after a question-and-answer [session] for a short film I made, I set up an elaborate way to ask my girlfriend to marry me. She said “yes.” Thank God.

CUBlog: Looking both to the recent past and the future, what are the other Drunken Zombie-branded facets of your budding empire and how do you plan to grow or add on to them?

BW: Drunken Zombie started out as a horror-themed podcast. We would get all these indie filmmakers sending us their films, wanting us to review them, and a lot of them were really good. So, we thought about what we could do to help spread the word about these films outside of the podcast. The Drunken Zombie Film Festival was born!

Then, after we realized we had a bunch of films we still liked that hadn’t made it into the festival, we talked with our theater about doing a monthly show. They agreed and we do the Drunken Zombie Deadly Double Feature. We team one indie movie with one classic film. What we didn’t predict at our first one was that the audience would start heckling the movies out loud, and [we played the original] NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. So, they were ready to heckle anything.

Now it’s tradition at the double features to just heckle the films, creating an awesome atmosphere the audience really enjoys. We’ve had filmmakers come and heckle their own films at some of these!

This year, we were invited to take our events on the road and attend Gen Con, the huge gaming convention in Indianapolis. [We staged] a Deadly Double Feature and a “Best of DZFF.” Both went over fantastically. Outside of that, we’ve been busy building a podcast network. We have multiple podcasts running off our Web site, some offshoots of Drunken Zombie and some started by friends of ours who wanted to do a podcast but didn’t know how to start such a thing.

Every year, we’re adding new content. Things just seem to be getting bigger and better!

• Schedule:

Click here for the complete 2013 DZFF schedule!

:: Part 2 | Part 4 ::


Interview conducted October 9, 2013, via e-mail.

CUBlog EXTRA! Interview No.8 © 2013 Jason Pankoke

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