ABOUT THE FESTIVAL
The first annual Silver Scream Film & Comic Festival came into being when entrepreneur Philip Kim, who owns the iconic fanfic magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland, joined forces with a friend, who happened to be Santa Rosa Entertainment Group’s vice president, Neil Perlmutter.
[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“I had just had the privilege of exhibiting my film, Downstream at the Roxy in 2009. The VP of the company that operates the Roxy, Neil Perlmutter, had said what a huge fan he was of my magazine, Famous Monsters of Filmland. One thing led to another and we ended up with the show.” – Philip Kim[/pullquote]
Together, they created a modest event that would celebrate not only classic horror, fantasy and sci-fi flicks but also genre-based comic books and graphic novels. The film festival made its debut at the Roxy Stadium 14 (also home to the long-running CULT film series) in picturesque downtown Santa Rosa, CA on March 4 – 6, 2016.
The event screened move than 40 classic and indie horror films including Wes Craven’s Nightmare on Elm Street and John Landis’ An American Werewolf in London. Filmmakers and creators of comic books and graphic novels were invited to submit their creative works and attend screenings, filmmaker panels, Q & A sessions, signings, and award ceremonies. Special tributes were paid to the late Master of Horror, Wes Craven and Forrest “Forry” J. Ackerman, founder of the Famous Monsters trademark.
The goal of the Silver Scream Film & Comic Fest is to honor Forry Ackerman’s original vision of bringing movie magic into the lives of the audience, and to continue to discover and encourage “the new talent, the storytellers that would capture the imaginations of audiences for generations to come.”1
You can see a recent interview with Philip Kim under the Festival Talk tab. For more information, visit their “Mission Statement” page.
A BIT OF HISTORY
The magazine behind the festival, Famous Monsters of Filmland (FM), was founded by publisher James Warren and editor Forrest J. Ackerman in 1958 originally as a stand-alone magazine. It featured articles illustrated with publicity stills and graphic artwork of horror and sic-fi movies from the silent era to the current date of publication and highlighted their stars and filmmakers.
The publication, bolstered by widespread syndication of horror classics on American television, became wildly popular with the public. A second printing was granted to supply the demand, spurring Warren and Ackerman to concurrently publish regular editions. The successful magazine inspired several other publications such as Castle of Frankenstein, Cinefantastique, Fangoria, The Monster Times, and Video Watchdog, and had several spinoffs: Spacemen, Favorite Westerns of Filmland, Screen Thrills Illustrated, Creepy, Eerie, and Vampirella.
In November of 1975 and 1976, the first FM Convention took place in New York City. The popularity of this convention led to several more hosted by different locations, including Crystal City, VA, Indianapolis, IN, and Burbank, CA. In 1983, the magazine halted publication at Issue #191 after Warren became ill and was unable to carry on as publisher.
In 1993, FM was restarted by a New Jersey portrait photographer and fanboy Ray Ferry. After several years of legal battles over publication rights, the magazine’s logo and its trademark was purchased in bankruptcy court in 2007 by enterpreuner and real estate developer Phillip Kim2.
[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”We are aiming to be the Sundance of the genre film world. We want to put Santa Rosa on the map.” – Philip Kim[/pullquote]
Kim successfully revived the magazine and resumed publication of FM in July 2010 while carefully retaining the original vision of Forry Ackerman. “When I took over Famous Monsters, I knew that it came with some perks. You could spend a lot of money to start something new, but you can’t buy time. When something’s been around since 1958, you can buy that, but you couldn’t recreate that. You’d have to wait another 58 years,” he mentioned in a recent newspaper article.2
The Silver Scream Film & Comic Festival debuted in Santa Rosa, CA in March 2016. Hosted by the iconic Roxy 14 Theatre, the festival featured many original performers and supporters who were associated with Ackerman in the past such as Bela Lugosi, Jr., Rick Baker, John Landis, and David Naughton.
The 2016 Silver Scream Film & Comic Festival featured several special celebrity guests including Robert England, John Landis, David Naughton, seven-time Oscar winner Rick Baker, Heather Langenkamp, Bela Lugosi Jr., animator Eric Keyes, and special effects make up artist Walter Welsh. Rob Prior, a storyboard artist, screenwriter and illustrator who is able to paint with both hands simultaneously, sketched and painted several grisly portraits in front of an enraptured crowd of festival-goers.
The theater halls were lined with booths hosting local artists and businesses showing off their genre-related wares while ladies dressed to the bloody nines mingled with vampires, werewolves and Freddy lookalikes. Special effects makeup artists transformed humans into supernatural creatures and unleashed them into crowds of delighted fans.
I attended the festival as a volunteer. My job was to take pictures of the fans and assist them as needed. I ventured over to a booth where David Naughton sat alone, surrounded by An American Werewolf in London memorabilia. As I was not quite familiar with the classic, I didn’t recognize Naughton from the pictures surrounding him. I approached him asking who he was, and if he were a make-up artist or a director. He said, no, this is me, pointing at the autographed pictures arrayed on the table. I was all, no, who are you? He points to the shirt I’m wearing, which bears his likeness. I was so embarrassed! I apologized, and he was gracious and humorous. David Naughton, you can be sure I’ll remember you for the rest of my life!
I attended a panel for Wes Craven’s New Nightmare after watching the flick for the first time. The panel consisted of two of the film’s stars, Robert England and Heather Langenkamp as well as a few others involved with the production of the film. They engaged in a lively discussion with the audience, which completely filled up the theater, and shared their experiences working with the late Wes Craven and on the films.
The three-day event coincided with one of the wettest weekends of the year, but that didn’t stop fans from pouring nonstop into the theater. The intoxicating smell of movie popcorn wafted in the air as eager moviegoers chatted among each other and with other fans and filmmakers. Naughton, Landis and Baker even came around to mingle with the crowds.
[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]For a moment, it all became quite in my mind when I saw Rick Baker, John Landis and David Naughton sitting at a table signing and joking with their fans and people enjoying themselves beyond words. I felt happy. – Phillip Kim[/pullquote]
We watched Rob Prior paint a likeness of Frankenstein’s bride moving as if he were possessed by a monstrous creature. He was wearing earpods, so we assumed he was moving to music. Later, we asked what he was listening to. Jazz, he responded, with a sly smile.
The Silver Scream Film & Comic Festival appeared to be a smashing success. View a photo gallery of the event to explore more visuals of the event’s highlights. With the continued support of the local community, the festival collaborators hope to make this event an annual fixture in Sonoma County. I, for one, am eagerly anticipating their next show!
1. “Mission.” Silver Scream Fest. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 May 2016.
2. Taylor, Dan. “Santa Rosa Hosts Silver Scream Film Festival.” Santa Rosa Press Democrat. N.p., 24 Feb. 2016.