Hot Springs film festival brings frights, delights

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HOT SPRINGS — Bill Volland always knew he wanted to create a film festival of some kind.

“And at the time, when I was looking at what kind to do, there was already a documentary film festival that was out, so I knew mine had to be something different,” Volland said. “I also wanted to widen it to things that I like, and I like thrillers and science-fiction movies.

“And after meeting my now ex-girlfriend, Tamara Glynn, who starred in Halloween 5, she pushed for it to be a horror, thriller and sci-fi festival.”

From that initial thought process, the International Horror, Thriller & Sci-Fi Film Festival began. The festival, for which Volland is the director and founder, is scheduled to begin Thursday. The event is presented by the Hot Springs Arts and Film Institute and the Hot Springs Central Theater, at 1008 Central Ave.

Volland said the festival will feature films from all around the world, including the Ukraine, France and Spain, and all over the United States, including California and New York.

“The filmmakers will show up and do Q&A’s after the films are over, and this year, we are having a little less than a dozen seminars,” he said. “They can relate to filmmakers or even the general public.”

The festival will feature movies that haven’t been shown anywhere, but also ones that could soon be out in theaters or on Netflix, Volland said.

“Occasionally, we will have ones that come out before the festival, but last year, we did have a few get picked up,” he said.

Tony Buck — who has made masks for movies, bands and even the television show Game of Thrones — will host a mask-making seminar from 4-5 p.m. Saturday. Volland said it is best to sign up for the seminar in advance.

“People seem to really like the mask seminar,” Volland said. “Next year, we are discussing possibly making it last two days and having it possibly before the festival.

“But it will show guests how to mold and make a mask. That way, you can make your own Halloween mask or one for a movie.”

Tickets for the festival this year include a four-day pass for $55 and a 50 percent discount for some of the seminars. A day pass is $25, and tickets for a single film are $10. Volland said each seminar, which lasts at least an hour, costs $20. All of the money raised goes back into the festival itself.

“The seminars allow for a more one-on-one situation, and guests can get a lot more out of it when not everybody is asking questions,” he said.

Volland said students at National Park College in Hot Springs are making all the trophies for the festival out of a 100-year-old wood plank from the theater.

Composer Alan Howarth, who has been the sound designer for six Star Trek feature films, will perform his “world-famous soundtracks” live, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Friday. He will answer questions and sign autographs afterward.

“It is great to see these emerging markets find an audience,” Howarth said. “It is a chance for these young filmmakers to present their works.

“Festivals like Sundance have such big players in them now, so festivals like this one in Hot Springs allow opportunities for emerging filmmakers to show their stuff and get feedback, too.”

Howarth will host a Sound in Film seminar from 5-6 p.m. Saturday. He said he likes coming to the festival in Hot Springs because it is a little more causal, and there is a lot more interaction with the filmmakers.

“In this case, it is folks who actually want to participate in filmmaking and students who want to talk to seasoned professionals like myself,” Howarth said. “This is really a focus group, where we are hanging out the whole time, listening to each other’s stories and getting feedback and a chance for me to possibly take them under my wing or to find someone helpful in their area, or even back in Hollywood.”

Howarth will also screen his latest independent film, HOAX, at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Matt Allen, who was a professional assistant director, wrote the script and created the movie and asked Howarth to be a part of it. Howarth said Allen is flying in to participate in the talk and tell his story.

“None of these films is rated,” Volland said. “So if you plan on coming, be aware. We don’t accept any films that are X-rated or anything like that, but we don’t want anybody coming and being surprised by something scary.”

Volland said it is hard to tell how many guests came to the festival last year because it is four days long.

“And we aren’t seeing everybody showing up at one time,” he said. “But we have a pretty good turnout, and each year we get more and more people because people hear about it and tell their friends.”

For more information and for a full schedule of the films being shown, visit

Staff writer Sam Pierce can be reached at (501) 244-4314 or

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