If you thought the spooky season was over, you thought wrong. 16 indie horror, sci-fi, fantasy and thriller films will take over the Foundry Room in the Oliver Exchange Building on November 16 and 17 for the first YIKES Film Festival. The festival will feature 16 films from local and international filmmakers and was organized by filmmaker and NAIT alumni Daniel Chamberlin. Chamberlin, who is working with NAIT Radio graduate and Nugget alumni Roy Navarro to coordinate the festival, has partnered with NAIT’s Radio and Television Program to promote the event to like-minded people.
YIKES is an extension of the Halloween season and aims to support indie artists. “We want people to extend their spooky season with the ultimate Halloween hangover,” Chamberlin said. “Above all, the festival is focused on fun of the attendees, so think less of a red carpet experience and more watching unique movies with your friends.”
Along with an array of indie films, the festival will incorporate spooky vendors and live music. Chamberlin explained that YIKES is meant to have “more of an underground vibe and less of a corporate gala award” feeling.
“This kind of came about with attending film festivals and seeing if we could take that idea of a film festival and turn it more into a party,” said Chamberlin. “I love film festivals, but the red carpet gala aspect can be a bit boring for some, so we’re really hoping to turn that on its head and make it a little bit different.”
Attendees can expect a “horror punk” or “metal head” themed event where they can drink beers, enjoy a photo backdrop and interact with horror cosplayers – with a viewing section to watch films made by independent artists from around the world. “Fans can expect some really cool movies, films that they’re not going to see anywhere else,” Chamberlin explained.
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At the end of the festival, audience members will get to vote for the Audience Choice winner. Chamberlin and Navarro have enlisted Edmon Rotea, Executive Producer of Skinamarink, Joe French, film enthusiast and owner of Movie World and an additional surprise guest judge to decide on awards like Best Feature Film and Best Short Film.
“[French] is the owner of Movie World out in Stony Plain, one of the last remaining movie stores in our area. So, what better wealth of knowledge than to have somebody like [French] who’s seen thousands upon thousands of movies, who his day-to-day is, no pun intended, the movie world, right?” said Chamberlin. “He’s probably seen more horror movies than most of us put together.”
Chamberlin also has a wealth of experience in films. His short film Tunnel Vision won Best Film at the 2022 Kimberley Horror Fest and Audience Choice at the 2022 Central Alberta Film Fest. Despite coming from a filmmaking background, his favourite part of the planning process was interacting with the filmmakers. “We had tons of submissions from all over the world, everywhere you can think of submitted movies,” he said. “My interactions with the filmmakers and just how awesome they’ve been [was my favourite part]. From being on that side of things a little myself, and how awesome it is to have your work recognized, it’s not only rewarding on their end, but it’s just as rewarding on our end as well.”
Chamberlin and Navarro hope to make YIKES an annual event for horror fans in Edmonton. “This is really just scratching the surface,” Chamberlin explained. “There are a couple of film festivals in the city, some very good ones, but I think if we can market ourselves as less of a sit-down experience … we can carve out our own audience and our own fan base for a festival of this type,” he said.
“We want to create an open, welcome, collaborative environment that is for the film and art community by the film and art community,” Chamberlin said. Overall, he wants YIKES to be a place where people can be themselves and have fun. “A horror fan could be anybody. A horror fan could be your grandma. It could be your neighbour, it could be anybody.”
NAIT students can check out YIKES Film Festival’s schedule and purchase discounted tickets using the code “NAIT” during checkout at yikesfest.com, or keep up with festival updates by following @yikesfilmfest on social media.