Saturday, January 21, 2017

Neil Pearlmutter (Co-Founder of the Silver Scream Festival) Talks about the Fest's Future

Over the years, Sonoma County has been known for a quite a few things, namely its abundance of the country’s most talked about Wineries & Breweries. One thing it has never been known for is a place for Genre Films & Filmmakers.

…..until now

In a recent email correspondence with Neil Pearlmutter, Vice President of the Santa Rosa Entertainment Group and co-founder of the Silver Scream Film and Comic Festival, we spoke about everything from his love of Genre Films, to his involvement in the (Roxy 14) Cult Film Series, as well as the inaugural year of the Silver Scream Film and Comic Festival in Santa Rosa, CA, which took place in March of 2015.

Photo courtesy of The Press Democrat

You are also responsible for the (Roxy 14) Cult Film Series, a Double Feature of Genre favorites & oddities at the Roxy 14 in Santa Rosa, CA on Thursday nights. As a Cult Film Series Faithful, I want to thank you for bringing this to the North Bay, as the representation of curated film nights such as this one seem to always be in or around San Francisco or Oakland. What was the original inspiration for this Film Series and what do you hope it will achieve in 2017?

The inspiration for the series really comes from the movies themselves. I grew up loving “B” movies and 80's Horror. I am lucky enough to work in an industry that provides a unique opportunity to share my specific interests with other like-minded fans. These films are fun & unique and best experienced with others. I, like many others that grew up in Sonoma County, was not able to see these movies in theatres. They typically didn’t get theatrical runs outside of the “cities” and my parents sure weren’t going to drive me to San Francisco to watch Maniac (1980) or Phantasm (1979). So now, I have the great opportunity to watch these films in a theatre, on a large screen with others…for the first time. My goal with this series (in part) from the beginning was to introduce 80’s Horror to a new generation of film-goers. I’m worried they’ll only know current day, PG-13 Torture Porn. Not the campy, practical effects films of my generation that were original and creative.

Although Sonoma County has had many different Film Festivals over the years, Silver Scream Festival was one of the first dedicated solely to Genre films. How did the idea of Silver Scream Festival come about?

Our partner in the Silver Scream Festival is Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine. The current owner and publisher of the magazine (Philip Kim) is from Santa Rosa. We share a fascination with Genre Film. It’s our opinion this region is perfect to host a yearly festival. Why not bring our two local businesses together and make Sonoma County the Sundance of Genre Film? We know filmmakers and guests will fall in love with our food, people and of course the wine.

What were your personal highlights from last year's Silver Scream Festival? What were the most difficult aspects of putting together its Inaugural Year?

Toughest part of organizing and executing an event such as this handling the stress of the last weeks leading up to show time. Trying to make all sponsors, guests and filmmakers happy, confirming hotel, transportation and restaurants, planning the schedule. Everything really comes together towards the end. Managing that very large monkey on your back can be a challenge. Personal highlights were numerous. The ribbon cutting with Robert Englund was pretty spectacular. Moderating the Wes Craven tribute on Friday night with Robert, Heather and Marianne…awesome. Meeting the indie filmmakers that came from around the world to participate was humbling and quite moving.

Recently, it was announced that Silver Scream Festival would not be returning to Santa Rosa, CA and would be assimilated into another Festival in Texas this coming May. Considering all the parties involved, what were the reasons for this?

The Silver Scream Festival will return to Santa Rosa in 2018. We realized some changes were needed to grow the festival and make it better, to add more value. In addition, we ran into a few scheduling road blocks with guests that we just could not overcome. With these two factors in play, it was decided to postpone. It is not in our best interest to put together a festival that doesn’t live up to year one. Quite honestly, I do not want people leaving the event thinking, “That was okay”. I want them leaving, excited for the next year. I just wasn’t happy with where we were at. So it was decided to postpone Santa Rosa until 2018. We’ll have a paired down version in Dallas this May in conjunction with Famous Monster’s Alien Expo. Santa Rosa will always be the home of Silver Scream Festival.

What guests would you like to have at the next Silver Scream Festival? At the most recent (Roxy 14) Cult Film Series Screening on 12/29/16, you mentioned that Jeff Lieberman (Director of Squirm, Blue Sunshine & Just Before Dawn) contacted you to be a part of the Festival!

Yes, Jeff reached out thinking it would be fun to come up. We’d love to have him. I’d like to see some more innovators of the genre, George Romero, Roger Corman, John Carpenter, Tom Savini. Perhaps a “women of horror” panel and more classic icon tributes like Lon Chaney or Boris Karloff.

Is there anything else you would like to add? Shoutouts?

I want to thank, with my deepest sincerity, our Cultists. I’ve met so many awesome people that share my love for B films. It’s the connections that have been developed that continue to drive the series. I couldn’t imagine not seeing my CULT family every Thursday. The absolute, most rewarding aspect of curating this series has been the relationships created.

The (Roxy 14) Cult Film Series appears on selected Thursday nights throughout the year.

For more information please follow their Facebook and Twitter (@roxycult) pages.

-The Ascendant

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