This year marks the 7th Annual Hammond Horror Festival, a series of events taking place in and around downtown Hammond. The Hammond Horror Festival was established in October of 2011 and was designed to showcase the work of local professional and student artists in an alternative celebration of the arts in the form of Halloween entertainment. The Hammond Horror Festival includes a spread of different exhibits, for example: theatre, music, visual arts, dance, poetry/spoken word and film.
A popular aspect of the Hammond Horror Festival is the 48-hour film competition. This film competition has only been around for two years but it is already a big hit among students and locals who join in on the Halloween festival fun. Each contestant or team is given the following information that must be used somewhere in their film: a theme for the film, a prop, and a line of dialogue. After the teams are given the pieces needed to complete the horror film they then have 48 hours to write, shoot, act and edit their films before turning them in for the competition.
In 2016, only 17 percent of the people working on Hollywood films were women and one of the teams who wanted to change the way films are usually seen, specifically throughout the horror genre, purposely created a film with an all-female led cast and crew. The team was led and directed by Grace Jovanovic. Jovanovic had a lot to say with what went into making this female led film, “Rights and Rituals”.
According to Jovanovic, “I was the writer, director, and the editor. This was awesome because I was able to start and finish the project with as much of my vision as possible. Since the project was part of the Hammond Horror 48 Hour Film Festival, the entire process took place within that time period. On Friday, September 8th at seven pm, we were emailed a prompt, from that moment we had 48 hours to turn in a film. After that I wrote the script and then sent them off to the actors. By seven am on Saturday, September 9th they were in makeup with our makeup artist, Veronica Hall. We moved to set and were shooting by nine am that morning. At this point, I started to work with the actors on camera and help them delve into their characters. We wrapped at about six pm that evening, and then we started the editing process. Editing is like writing all over again. You become a visual storyteller it is also the most stressful part of the 48-hour process because you feel like you are on more of a time crunch. But in the end, it all came together perfectly.” Jovanovic was able to write the screenplay for “Rights and Rituals” in five hours while her friend and coworker, Sarah Barbier, set up the shots for the film.
Barbier, the Director of Photography, stated that it was so important to them to have an all-female led cast and crew to showcase women in all aspects of the film industry and not just the ones in front of the camera. Alexis Durante, one of the actors from the film, echoed those thoughts. “In this industry, you’ll find women are still paid less as actors than their male counterparts. As far as directors, production, writers, crew, etc. you’ll find there are very few women and very few opportunities for them, the glass ceiling in the film industry is very real. It was also so much fun to do a horror scene where I was the victim,” Durante said, “It was a new experience and a challenge as an actress to convey that terror.” The main sentiment that these women shared was that they wanted to make a point to only have women in their production and to prove that they could make this project not suffer because there was not a man on the set. The main aspect that this cast and crew wants audiences to take from their film is that the film industry no longer must be a male dominated career path.
The 48-hour made horror films will premiere on Friday, October 21st at seven pm at the Gnarly Barley in Hammond, Louisiana. The actual 7th annual Hammond Horror Festival is scheduled for October 20th through the 21st and will showcase local filmmakers and different artists around the Hammond and New Orleans area. Be sure to go out and support your local artists and students at the Hammond Horror Festival as they unleash their talents on unsuspecting visitors.