Two independent filmmakers, Emil J. Novak and Gregory Lamberson, are organizing a new horror film festival, Buffalo Screams, which will run for four days at The Screening Room in Amherst, New York, a suburb of Buffalo, from Wednesday, October 21st – Sunday, October 24th. They are calling for entries and seeking sponsors through their website, Buffalo Screams.
Both men have lived in New York State their entire lives, and Novak, a lifelong resident of Buffalo, is the owner of Queen City Bookstore, the Main Street comic book store his father started in 1969. In recent years he wrote and directed the feature films Tesla the Accumulator and Banshee, and is currently shooting the zombie anthology Decayed.
Lamberson, who grew up in Fredonia and now lives in Cheektowaga, is the award-winning author of Johnny Gruesome, Personal Demons, and the just released werewolf novel The Frenzy Way. He also wrote and directed the 1988 cult film Slime City, and last year he directed a sequel, Slime City Massacre, around Buffalo’s Central Terminal Station. Slime City Massacre recently won the Best Film and Best Actor categories at the PollyGrind Film Festival in Las Vegas.
“We have similar interests and influences,” says Lamberson of their partnership. “We know each other’s strengths and complement each other well. Emil is a graphic artist with deep ties to the community, and the comic store is a great base of operations; I know a lot of filmmakers from around the world and have a track record for promotion. We’re both actively involved in the Buffalo filmmaking scene, love horror films, and want to create a festival that will draw attention to this region. We decided to start with a four-day festival, rather than a one or two day event, to show how serious our commitment is.”
Novak explains why the duo chose to hold Buffalo Screams at The Screening Room: “Bob Golibersush, owner of the Screening Room, is one of Western New York’s biggest supporters of indie filmmakers and indie theater. Bob has been involved in the movie business for 1over 17 years. He also hosts the BM-VM (Buffalo Movie-Video Makers) society, established in 1934. The venue is attractive and inviting; it also serves, wine, beer and soft drinks.”
According to the pair, Buffalo has a large population of horror film fans due to its long history with the genre: Harvey Weinstein of Miramax and the Weinstein Company wrote and produced The Burning here in 1981; Local cinematographer James Gribbins directed Shadow Creature in 1995; and Lloyd Kaufman made Troma Entertainment’s Poultrygeist here in 2006. In addition, the area has seen a groundswell in grassroots productions such as Gore, The Pigman, House of Horrors: The Movie, and the currently lensing productions Dusk, The Perfect House, and The Final Night and Day.
“The audience is here,” Lamberson says. “Our job is to use our contacts in the industry attract films that people here may not see otherwise, and to create a unique atmosphere that will grow the event each year. I was a guest at the Beloit International Film Festival in Wisconsin for two years, and the visiting filmmakers unanimously proclaimed it the best festival they’d ever attended because of the generous support shown to them by the festival volunteers and community. We want to generate that same buzz here, with regards to our chosen genre.”