It’s hard to believe, but Tommy Faircloth’s Crimson Screen Horror Film Festival has been scaring the Lowcountry with indie offerings from all over the world since 2014.

“Originally, I wanted to create a festival in South Carolina that featured horror films. Being a filmmaker myself, I was able to see first-hand that horror was not a genre that was supported by the festivals in the state. So I wanted to be the first to do it,” Tommy Faircloth recalled.

This year’s roster will include feature films like the Halloween-themed anthology Bad Candy and the horror comedy Hawk And Rev: Vampire Slayers, as well as shorts from here and abroad, including Felecia Rivers’ Tiffany The Doll, Hospital Dumpster Divers, and Sigmund.

One of the festival’s first submitters, Mount Pleasant native Trent Shy, has gone on to a successful career making stop-motion and claymation videos on YouTube, including The Animator Trilogy which has  garnered over a 100 million views. His short, The Feast, will run during the festival this year. He has fond memories of being at Crimson.

“It was a life-changing experience,” said Shy. “At the time, I still hadn’t made a career out of my work and I was just animating as a hobby. I had only been animating for a year and I was still creating my films on my kitchen floor. The love, appreciation and inspiration I received at the festival was a turning point for me. At the end of that fest, I knew I could make a career out of stop motion. Tommy and all of the other filmmakers at the fest became an instant family. We still talk all the time and they still motivate me. There is an amazing community attached to Crimson Screen and I’m so glad to be part of it.”  

That social aspect of Crimson has been a boon for local creatives itching to create a film of their own with like-minded souls, like C. Michael Whaley of Turn-A-Phrase Films. He met and became friends with many other filmmakers thanks to the festival and currently has two short films, Ghost Note and On the Road Again, in the lineup. Asked about the appeal of the genre, Whaley said, “I really like being scared and scaring people. Which is funny because when I was young. I couldn’t watch anything with scary music. It wasn’t until I was older that I really appreciated horror.”

Connections at the fest help filmmakers get those ideas out of their heads and in front of audiences around the world. It’s something that makes Faircloth happy. 

“I’m proud of anyone that can complete a film. It’s a huge task. But I have seen many filmmakers in South Carolina continue to make movies and improve on their craft. There are also many filmmakers who have gone on to have their films distributed all over the world. Our sponsor, ShortsTV, has also given our filmmakers excellent exposure by playing their films on their worldwide cable channel along with Oscar-winning short films.“

Like many events last year, Crimson was affected by the pandemic. “Last year, we were a few weeks out from the festival and had to cancel,” said Faircloth. “This left no time to create a virtual event, so we refunded our customers who had purchased tickets in advance. Crimson is a competition so we still awarded our winning films and screenplays and shipped our awards and trophies to the winners.” 

The festival’s logo, featuring a TV tuned to channel 9 (to match the festival’s age) with a hand grasping a knife, represents the virtual turn it’s taken this year.

“I’m excited that we will be able to have a fest providing our filmmakers with the most exposure possible,” Faircloth said. Our audience will also get to participate by voting for their favorite films. The benefit for our ticket holders will be the option to watch all of our official selections at any time during our three-day event from the comfort of their home. The benefit for the filmmakers will be having an audience from all over the world.”

Faircloth hopes the virtual approach will  give others a chance to see what the appeal is. ”I’ve seen all the films in our lineup of course and I’m excited for the audience to see how diverse horror films can be.”

Crimson Screen Film Festival runs May 21-23 at South of Broadway Theatre in North Charleston. For more information, visit crimsonscreenfilmfest.org.