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by Thomas M. Sipos, managing editor.  [November 17, 2008]




[]. Several of 2008's Tabloid Witch Award-winning filmmakers appeared for a Q&A panel following a screening of their films at the Santa Monica Public Library on Saturday, November 15th, in the library's Martin Luther King Jr. Auditorium.

Participating filmmakers included directors Balaji K. Kumar (9 Lives of Mara), Joe Fontano (The Butterfly Hole), Peter Podgursky (Cheerbleeders), C.J. Johnson (Creepers), and Damon Packard (Chemtrails: An Investigative Report). Best Actress Georgia Chris represented 100 Tears, as its director, Marcus Koch, was on location in Texas. Ganesh Kumar was present to collect his Best Soundtrack Award (9 Lives of Mara).



Balaji K. Kumar recounted the many challenges independent filmmakers face when dealing with myriad private investors. The character of the witch "Mara" was played by two actresses. While Pollyanna McIntosh plays Mara in 90% of her scenes, Jennifer Gimenez played Mara in a few scenes, partially because one investor wanted Gimenez to do so.





Although unusual, this was possible because 9 Lives of Mara is an impressionistic "supernatural noir" tale, seen from the skewed perspective of a frightened boy. The events in the film may at various times be "accurate," or supernatural magic, or a young boy's warped imagination.


Film student Joe Fontano made The Butterfly Hole for a class project. He never expected his dark yet whimsical, animated tale of two unicorns -- one Good one Bad -- to win acclaim outside the classroom.

"But now that it has, I'm so happy!" he exclaimed.

Fontano had to leave before the Q&A session because of his retail day job in Westwood. "Why do we have to work?" he lamented. "I wish we didn't have to."

Hopefully, this talented newcomer will soon find a job more suitable to his artistic talents and aspirations.

Flying in from Florida, 2008 Best Actress winner Georgia Chris represented the gory, grindhouse film, 100 Tears. She plays a tabloid reporter in search of a serial killer, along with her partner.

"I'm not normally attracted to horror film," said Chris, "but I liked the relationship aspects between the two reporters."

The two reporters share a house, and apparently share a bed but no sex. An audience member asked what the two reporters relationship was.

"We liked to keep it ambiguous," Chris cryptically replied.

What's not ambiguous is the graphic violence in 100 Tears. Gorehounds will not be disappointed.





USC film student Peter Podgursky is not only a talented filmmaker -- he's a great audience member, laughing at, cheering, and enthusiastically applauding all the other Tabloid Witch films.

"I hope I was meant to laugh during 100 Tears," said Podgursky.

Georgia Chris assured him that she herself laughs at certain parts of the film.

Podgursky's a Heathers.type film. A "revenge of the nerds/goths" tale in which high school goths take supernatural revenge on the cheerleader and jocks.

After some people commented on Podgursky's own geeky/nerdy appearance, and linked it to his film's theme, Podgursky good-naturedly asked, "Are there any more stereotypes you'd like to hit me with?"



During the Tabloid Witch Awards' five year history, C.J. Johnson is only the second filmmaker to win in two different years. He won Honorable Mentions in 2007 for The Signal and 2008 for Creepers (which he shared with Nick Thiel.).

Paul Carty took home Honorable Mentions in 2004 and 2006, both times for animated films. Johnson's specialty is horror/sci-fi, a niche he has nearly all to himself. The Tabloid Witch sees many zombies and serial killers, but few evil UFOs or aliens.

The Signal is set before an alien invasion, and Creepers during (another) alien invasion. In both films, humans can't be sure who's an alien, and who isn't.

"I'm attracted to tales of paranoia," said Johnson. "We're all a little paranoid. We have to be. If there were a crisis, who can we trust? Can I trust you? Can you trust me?"

Producers seeking "creepy" horror/sci-fi scripts, in a paranoid X-Files vein, should consider Johnson to be the go-to guy.

Read more about the 2008 Tabloid Witch winners, and learn how to enter the next Tabloid Witch Awards!

Copyright 2008 by



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