From the events calendar
The Houston film festival that's guaranteed to offend: Get your comedy on (withbeer)
Don't let the tacky fliers fool you.
The Houston Comedy Film Festival, which plays on Alamo Drafthouse West Oaks' screens Wednesday night through Saturday, will surprise you.
Heels to the Pavement director Zachary Mattson (Omaha, Neb.):
The Buck Johnson Story director Blake McCray (Gainesville, Fla.):
America the Beautiful director Nick Keene & Nathan Harlan (Austin, Texas):
Local filmmaker Mikel Fair came up with the idea for his film festival after entering his comedies at larger festivals, where his films would be misplaced in genres like drama and action adventure.
"I didn't feel like there were any festivals with comedy-friendly categories, so I just decided to create one," Fair says. "We posted calls for submissions on Craigslist, Mandy, the Houston Film Commission and the Texas Film Commission."
This is the festival's second year. Last year, 400 films and 90 screenplays were submitted.
"This year we dropped the screenplay category because it was too time-consuming," Fair says. "This year we had 415 films submitted."
Fair describes comedy as a genre that doesn't rely on technical aspects or professional makeup — it's a genre that relies less on the polish and more on the writing.
"It has more latitude," Fair says. "I've got films that are shot by high schoolers with $500 cameras from Best Buy, and their films get as many laughs as the others — all that matters is the comedy. They talk about stuff differently because the lingo has changed, but it's still all the same funny high school stuff."
Fair thinks comedy and science fiction share the same challenges at the Oscars.
"Like how Stars Wars never made Best Picture, out of complete disrespect for the genre," Fair says. "They're going to embrace Crash, before The Matrix. It's all snobbery, The Hangover is never going to be as highly regarded as Schindler's List."
Fair, 36, started his career in media production as an audio engineer in 2002 and from there he grew into a director and screenwriter.
According to Fair, filmmakers from the United Kingdom, Australia and Toronto sent a strong batch of submissions the first year.
"In Australia, they take comedy pretty seriously," Fair says. "This year is the first we've had a film submitted from Brazil."
If you're coming out to Alamo Drafthouse at West Oaks, Fair suggests that you come Wednesday on opening night because as the festival continues the films get more and more offensive.
"Wednesday is tame, but by Friday you're going to be like, 'Dude...,' plus a lot of more drinking will be going on Friday because that's when everyone from out-of-town will be coming in," Fair says. "Some are even carpooling from Nebraska."
Fair says he hopes the festival next year is also at the Alamo Drafthouse simply because he doesn't like the idea of having festival goers pay for parking like they would at some of the other theaters.
"You have to remember these are budding filmmakers," Fair says. "We don't have that sort of money to throw around, and we'll have to adjust for the economy as well."