Just in time for Halloween, the third annual “Horror Film Roulette” film contest is under way, and this coming Sunday, Oct 25, you can watch all of the final film entries – submitted by local filmmakers – as a winner is chosen.
Back in 2013, local filmmakers Erik Steele and Terri Rozwadowski, along with their roommate Brandon Mata, came up with a unique idea for a Halloween filming competition. “Halloween has always been my Christmas,” Erik Steele said, who is also the Co-owner of Th3 Studio. “I wanted to throw a different type of Halloween party that actually got local filmmakers involved in a holiday that I am a huge fan of, creating a new and interesting content that everyone gets to enjoy.” Rozwadowski, who is a Video Production Specialist at BNP Media, has been with the contest from its inception. “Erik’s creativity never ceases to impress me,” she said. “The fact that he came up with this idea and saw it through is amazing.”
So what is Horror Film Roulette? It’s an annual short horror film competition based in Metro-Detroit. Teams enter the contest and then have two weeks to create a five-minute short horror film based on the genre that they randomly select, by taking a spin on “The Wheel of Horror,” an actual roulette-style wheel with choices like “Sci-Fi,” “Monster,” “Slasher,” “Zombie,” “Supernatural,” or my personal favorite: A skull and cross-bones that means you have to perform a dramatic death scene where the filmmaker is then outlined in chalk.
“What’s better than getting together with old and new friends, watching a collection of short horror films on the big screen that you created yourself?” asks Steele. “Also the night when the teams spin the wheel becomes a great meet-and-greet for filmmakers, from those making their first film to those who do it for a living. There will be teams working on projects together even though they will all be competing in the end. Some teams from our second year are currently still working together on content to this day.”
The “Spin the Wheel” day happens on October 1 of each year at Th3 Studio in downtown Utica. Team captains spin the wheel to find out what genre their film will be. Those who cannot make the event in person can still enter at horrorfilmroulette.com. And while the contest is locally based, you don’t necessarily have to be local to enter. Last year there were submissions from as far away as California.
While participation in the contest is great exposure for budding filmmakers, there are prizes and recognition at stake…and it is growing. Steele estimates that about 30 people attended the inaugural Showcase event, when only three films were submitted. Last year, that number grew to over 100 people and 17 films submitted. This year, well over 20 films were submitted and the Showcase event – this Sunday at the Sterling Inn in Sterling Heights from 8pm – 11pm – the event looks to have its biggest crowd ever.
And the popularity and success of the Horror Film Roulette has not gone without notice. This year, the Detroit Film Critics Society (DFCS) is sponsoring the event and also has offered up a $100 cash prize to the winner. In addition, members of the DFCS will act as judges this year, and their expert opinions will be factored in along with audience votes to determine the winning films and filmmakers.
In addition to the DFCS sponsorship and prize, there are other prizes as well, offered up by other local and non-local film industry leaders who are impressed by what Steele and Rozwadowski have done. Last year, prizes were donated from Matt Busch, a Star Wars artist and creator of the “Hollywood is Dead” series. Ric Viers, creator of the Detroit Chop Shop and a Michigan-born industry leader in the world of sound effects, is donating his latest sound effects library to the first place winner, in addition to his Sound Effects Bible book that he authored. Tom Savage of Tom Savage Studios will be donating his newly released comic book, “Anathema,” which was just successfully crowd-funded on KickStarter.com.
The Horror Film Roulette Showcase this Sunday is open to the public and the price of admission is $6, which will give all audience members access to over two-hours of films as well as the final award presentation.
As for the future of the Horror Film Roulette? “I just hope (the Horror Film Roulette) keeps growing, gets a wider reach, and the prizes continue to grow with the competition,” says Steele. “We have already had submissions from out of state and that is amazing to me.”
Official rules and winning films can be seen at http://www.horrorfilmroulette.com/. All contest entries can be viewed on their YouTube channel as well, just search “horror film roulette.”
The Detroit Film Critics Society (DFCS) is a professional association comprised of Detroit-based film critics and journalists working in print and/or electronic media and operating within a 150-mile radius of Detroit, MI, or whose work primarily appears in the Metro-Detroit market. The purpose of the DFCS is to honor excellence in U.S. and world cinema and to promote the film industry within the state of Michigan when possible. Their annual awards for film excellence will be announced in mid-December.