William Mahaffey on The Knoxville Horror Film Festival

October 22, 2014

Knoxville Horror Film Festival Director, William Mahaffey co-founded this festival out of love for horror. It provides local genre filmmakers like himself a platform to screen their films and in the last five years the festival has grown from a one night to a full-weekend event. The 6th Annual Knoxville Horror Film Festival takes place this Friday, October 24- 26.

AudNews: How did the festival begin?

Mahaffey: We started the festival in 2009 at a small club in the Old City in Knoxville as just a short film fest; we were originally just going to have one night of short films. We had a huge response though and quickly decided to make it an annual event. After the first year we upped to two nights and included our first feature screening of the ultra low-budget film Colin.

Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 11.18.59 AM

Still from short film “Prank” courtesy of Facebook.

AudNews: What are some of your favorites films from this year’s film festival?

Mahaffey: I’m very excited about all of the films in the fest this year. Our feature lineup is really awesome. I’m particularly excited about Housebound and The Editor, which I haven’t seen yet. ABC’s of Death 2 is a dramatic improvement from the first one and is going to be incredibly fun to watch with a crowd. Out of the shorts I’m very excited about Invaders, which is a hilarious home invasion film. I’m also excited for the very strange short He Took His Skin Off For Me.

AudNews: What is something unique about Knoxville Horror Fest?

Mahaffey: One thing exciting about our festival is that we really put a focus on short films. Short films unfortunately don’t get seen very much in theaters, as there is no good way to distribute them to mass audiences besides the Internet. This isn’t as unique to our festival, but the films that we’re screening are mostly not available anywhere else besides other festivals. They haven’t been picked up for distribution yet so you can only see them at our festivals or others (most of which are nowhere near Knoxville) for quite awhile.

AudNews: What films or festivals inspired you to get involved with film festivals?

Mahaffey: Fantastic Fest in Austin, TX is my favorite festival I’ve ever attended. Music Box Massacre in Chicago and Toronto International Film Fest’s Midnight Madness in Toronto are both amazing festivals too.  I would say just the experience of seeing horror or genre films at these festivals and really enjoying the audience reaction and sense of community, which gave me the urge to try and recreate that.

AudNews: What is the most fulfilling part of working with Knoxville Horror Fest?

Mahaffey: Getting the opportunity to bring these films here for people who wouldn’t get to see them otherwise is very fulfilling and seeing young filmmakers get to screen their films alongside well-established filmmakers is also very rewarding.

We just want people to know that our festival is an insane amount of fun and we hope people will come out and join us for it. You can get tickets at brownpapertickets.com and there’s lots more info about the lineup on knoxvillehorrorfest.com.

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