Editor’s Notes: The following article is part of our coverage of the 2014 Fantastic Fest. For more information on the festival visit fantasticfest.com and follow Fantastic Fest on Twitter at @fantasticfest.
September 18-25 marks the 10th anniversary of Fantastic Fest. This year’s opening night film is Tusk. To mark the occasion we attended the red carpet event, took photos and spoke with Tim League (Fantastic Fest Co-Founder, CEO of Alamo Drafthouse) and Kevin Smith (Director of Tusk). The energy could be felt in the air. Both men have a lot to say, it was an honor to have a chat.
Tim League spoke with us about how the festival has grown, plans for the future and his strategy for his Fantastic Debate vs. Ti West. For those unaware, League co-founded Fantastic Fest and is the CEO of the growing theater franchise, Alamo Drafthouse.
Next Projection: Congratulations on Fantastic Fest Ten! Can you talk about the evolution of Fantastic Fest from the first to the present?
Tim League: Every year it gets a little bit crazier. I feel like with this smaller lobby we’re reaching our capacity here. I always want to keep it here. We’re going to cap attendance at this level and keep rolling. Just try keep making it better and better. In terms of evolution from the first days? We’re still very true to the idea of what we were trying to pull off back then. We wanted to bring the best of the best of international genre film and bring it to Austin. Our guest pool is a lot larger now. A lot of filmmakers come and then they come back this year without a film just to hang out and be a part of the community.
NP: What’s the one film you’re looking forward to watching with an audience?
TL: I like this movie called I Am a Knife with Legs. It’s a real small movie. But I think it’s got such incredible charm and it’s quirky and odd. I feel like this is the type of audience that’s really going to understand it. We’ll see if it blows up outta here.
NP: How are you going to beat Ti West in the Fantastic Fest debates?
TL: Oh I’m not going to beat Ti West in the debates! I think I’ve got him on the verbal debate maybe if I hold my own. But he’s a trained MMA fighter. I’m just going to try to keep standing! That’s victory for me!
Smith played up the red carpet for the photographers. He posed for pictures and smiled big. Smith’s charisma is magnetic. We only had time for a couple of questions, we hope you enjoy! Smith told us about his influences from growing up and his experience at Toronto International Film Festival.
Next Projection: Can you talk about your transition to genre films?
Kevin Smith: Easy. It has been so fun. The gasp button on an audience member isn’t all that far from the giggle button. If you can make somebody laugh you can make ‘em go, “Oh!” You can startle them and stuff. It wasn’t all that difficult a transition to make. These are the movies that I want to make more than anything else, when I was growing up. I didn’t even want to make these movies. These are the movies I watch. When I got into filmmaking the only movies I could make were like Clerks and Chasing Amy and stuff like that. 20 years in I can make a movie like this. And this is the movie that I grew up watching. It was easy to slip into it as a guy who worshipped at the alter of An American Werewolf in London and From Beyond and Re-Animator. It was almost like Dreams Come True Troma time to be able to do that myself.
NP: What was it like to watch Tusk with an audience for the first time?
KS: It was thrilling man! I had seen it with most of the cast and people that worked on it. While I’m shooting it, I’m cutting it. I’m always showing it to the cast and crew as we’re rolling. To see it with other strangers who didn’t read the script, only knew a log line **Pause** I was a little trepidatious. I was so worried that after years of people going like, “We’re tired of sequels and remakes. We want something original. I would show up with something original and they’d be like, “Not from you, you fat asshole! Someone good, like Fincher.” It was heartening at the end of the day they were like, “Well it’s from him but at least it’s different.”
A big thank you to Tim League for putting this on and talking with us about the festival that is a huge favorite for many. Many call Fantastic Fest “Christmas in September.” It’s certainly a festival that is celebrated by many and we here at Next Projection are grateful for the opportunity to participate.
Thanks also to Kevin Smith for giving us a couple of great, honest answers. It’s been interesting to watch Smith’s career steer in another direction. Like or dislike his two most recent projects, it takes a lot of guts to try something completely different as opposed to taking the safe path.