Halloween has always been my favorite holiday, way more than Christmas, and its never been about the candy. To me, Halloween is about becoming someone else for just one night, in your home made costume, running around silly in the darkness, and sharing that love of all things spooky with your friends and neighbors. Whatcom County¬†has a number of Halloween festivities to choose from, but none are quite like the Bleedingham horror short film festival.
About six years ago, after attending a disappointing music video film festival,¬†Bleedingham co-founders Gary Washington and Langley West were discussing what could have been done to make the¬†festival better if it had been up to them. That conversation quickly led to their shared passion, the horror film genre. Gary had studied film at Western Washington University’s Fairhaven College and Langley had worked for years as a practical effects specialist on a number of horror films. By the time their conversation concluded, Bellingham’s horror film festival, Bleedingham was born.
Fall 2016 marks the fifth year for the horror short film festival hosted by Bellingham’s independent theater, Pickford Film Center. Michelle Barklind and Casey Schmidt round out the planning committee¬†that have put on the festival each year. Over the years, the festival has garnered both a loyal local following and an expanding number of out-of-town visitors.
Bleedingham’s¬†mission is simple: to provide Northwest filmmakers the opportunity to compete for a $500 to $1000 prize and gain critical feedback on their narrative shorts from a panel of nine judges chosen for their experience in horror, filmmaking, and digital storytelling.
Many local filmmakers spend their spring and summer¬†running around Whatcom County in fake blood and monster attire to capture the footage they‚Äôll need. Bleedingham submissions under 12 minutes in length in the horror and thriller genres are accepted from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho by October 1 each year. The official selection of 10 to 15 shorts is announced in mid-October and screened at the Pickford on a¬†Saturday night before Halloween. Tickets sell out quickly so coordinators have¬†encore showings to accommodate eager fans.
In addition to screening film shorts from around the Northwest, festival attendees also have the chance to win door prizes donated by the more than 60 local business sponsors.
The planning committee tries to change up and expand their offerings each year to keep it¬†new and fresh and address increasing demand. In 2016 a Festival of the Macabre on the Friday evening of the 3-day event, which is the equivalent of a mini horror comic convention or comic con. Local artists and businesses that connect with the horror, paranormal, and related genres can show their wares, find new customers, and enjoy the company of the like-minded. Demonstrations, panel discussions, and a spooky vibe are highlights of the evening.
If that wasn’t enough, patrons¬†are invited to an after party on Sunday morning at The Shakedown.
Although Seattle has a large horror film festival in May each year called Crypticon,¬†Bellingham’s events are¬†more relaxed, vendors are very approachable, and most find it less overwhelming. Bleedingham organizers¬†hope that making Bleedingham a 2-day event will bring more fans of the darker side from out-of-town for¬†a long weekend or one week stay to fully enjoy Bellingham’s fall beauty. They also hope that more and more filmmakers will submit their creations each year, raising the bar and encouraging creatives to push themselves and up their game.
However you celebrate Halloween, be sure to consider adding a taste of Bleedingham to the mix.