Interview with Festival Director JoAnn Thomas (FANtastic Horror Film Festival)

The FANtastic Horror Film Festival in San Diego, CA is dedicated to bringing the latest and cutting edge Indie Horror films to the local community, It is a 3 day festival over Halloween and shows 30 + Indie Horror Short and Feature films. Following the Fest we have an Award Ceremony to celebrate our award nominees and winners. We are an official event on IMDb.

For more information please go to their website:

Interview with JoAnn Thomas

Matthew Toffolo: What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

JoAnn Thomas: Our approach to the festival is that the filmmakers are also fans of Indie Horror films as well as being filmmakers. Being close to LA, we provide many networking opportunities as well. We are also an approved film festival on IMDb where we recognise our nominees and award winners.

We give out approximately 30 awards.ten for feature film, ten for short films, and 10 miscellaneous specialty awards. Of special interest is our LON CHANEY AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN INDEPENDENT HORROR FILMS, which is given to an individual in any capacity (i.e. actor, director, DP, etc) who in the past 5 to 10 years has exhibited multiple achievements in the horror genre.

We feel that providing a place to show films that might otherwise be overlooked by the public is important and we provide continuous support for our filmmakers. film, and the actors who are in those films we select. We are a family.

MT: What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2016)?

JT: Two and a half days of fun, followed by an award ceremony recognising their work.

As a filmmaker ~ obviously a lot of networking opportunities and the opportunity to acknowledge the works of other filmmakers by participating in our Award Ceremony. Participating filmmakers, producers, and actors present the awards which also shows the family aspects of our festival.

As a Fan ~ a lot of great films to see and a lot of up and coming actors to meet.

MT: What are the qualifications for the selected films?

JT: Our Official Selections are obviously horror films and sub genres. We prefer to show films that are finished within the most recent 3 years, although exceptions have been made.

MT: Do you think that some films really don’t get a fair shake from film festivals? And if so, why?

JT: My personal feeling is that many festivals forget the filmmakers and their films once the fest is over,and given the fact that most of our films are made on a shoestring budget, it behoves us to continue to promote them even after the fest is over.

MT: What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

JT: Our initial motivation came from going to other fest that were disorganised and where films rarely started on time, and we were left to sit and wait. So, we decided to treat everyone like a movie going fan. To date most of our filmmakers find this a refreshing change.

MT: How has the festival changed since its inception?

JT: Our fest only continues to grow each year. Many of our filmmakers keep returning and giving us praise. Our filmmakers not only come back, they recommend us to their colleagues.

MT: Where do you see the festival by 2020?

JT: We reached one of our goals our first year when we received our first international film submission. So, now it is on to a much bigger goal which is to become the festival that every Indie Horror filmmaker wants to attend.

MT: What film have you seen the most times in your life?

JT: I know this is going to sound strange, but I come from a musical theatre background and I am an avid reader, so it begs the question. I am a big Stephen King fan and create my own movies in my head for the most part. I am also a big Criminal Minds fan as well. Putting these things together makes me a representative for the closet horror fan.

MT: In one sentence, what makes a great film?

JT: A great story which is not predictable with good character development.

MT: How is the film scene in your city?

JT: San Diego is a great place for a film festival. Unfortunately we haven’t been around for long enough to get a big local following as our fest is not regional. We are better known at a national and international level but that is about to change.

You may find any festival information and pictures on our website at as far as my bio is concerned I would have to get back to you on that if it is necessary.


Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Fesival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

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