IOW: Fall “Fear” grips Mt. Zion

We’ve seen the signs, dearest readers – that tell-tale chill in the air, those foreign hues tinting the leaves, the whispers of dead men’s (and women’s) parties wafting in one’s ears, and all manner of horrific entertainment options about to break loose in Champaign, Urbana, and the cemeteries beyond. In other words, welcome to October! Please consult our weekly Calendar to know which freaky films will flicker where in the weeks ahead; even though our post-New Art Film Festival daze has finally broken, we’ll have no ghost of a chance to preview all the seasonal goodness out there before month’s end. Ack!

That bemoaned, C-U Blogfidential will dip into the dark side of local film culture as we pick a few offbeat paths for you to ponder. The most immediate item on our radar is a second-year event called “The Art of Fear,” to be held from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. today, Saturday, October 10, at the Heroic Age Art Center, 135 S. Henderson St., Mt. Zion, IL, just a few miles southeast of Decatur. A renovated school building that now serves as studio space for both fine artists and media production firm Heroic Age Studios, the Center will welcome guests all day for “a Halloween-themed art show, art activities in our shops, celebrity guests, vendors, pumpkin carving contest, costuming, and panel discussions” per the event page. That last order of business is what may interest local film folk the most; subjects will include: Heroic Age creative director Eric Hector and production manager Tim Lynn on their Frightful 5000 Films” campaign (11 a.m.), monster actor Michael Koske of THE WALKING DEAD and GOOSEBUMPS (12:30 p.m.), creature make-up artist J. Anthony Kosar of the FACE OFF competition series (2 p.m.), and a screening of the Kentucky-filmed anthology VOLUMES OF BLOOD, hosted by editor Ash Hamilton and featuring several of the film’s directors (3:30 p.m.). Admission will be free to the public for this unique community outreach from Heroic Age, founded more than 20 years ago to provide digitization and colorization for comic book publishers. The company would eventually expand to offer other services, including media production, to a larger client pool; they have since created numerous award-winning commercials and industrials as well as manned grip trucks on the sets of Midwest narrative feature films.

Our “Image of the Week” is a pitch video for the “Frightful 5000 Films” concept. Supporters more or less become honorary producers for a $60 investment in the proposed “Gothic fairy tale,” per Hector, receiving a voice in selecting choice aspects (title, casting, etc.) of the project, behind-the-scenes access during filming, and an invitation to attend its premiere, among other perks. A separate but similar campaign for “Fanatical 5000 Films,” in support of a “supernatural romance” story, more directly hypes the ideal of attracting business to downstate Illinois through film production along with building a sense of pride that the area – well, Mt. Zion/Decatur, at the least – can represent well up on the big screen. Either way, the film can move forward once Heroic Age finds 5,000 individuals to invest in their vision. Are you heroic enough to take a chance on this interactive endeavor?

~ Jason Pankoke

p.s. We can’t help but remember chatting with Heroic Age about what they had intended to be their first in-house feature production, JOHNNY VIOLENCE, for an article we ran in MICRO-FILM 3. That was 15 years ago already. So, mighty Mt. Zion mavens… We plea on behalf of your producer-fans, if no one else, to please follow through no matter which campaign yields the first 5000 Film. All treat, no trick, make the damn movie once you get past the point of no return, the end. Remember, we’re pulling for you!

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