March 18 2013 12:00 AM

Local filmmakers get showcases in Grand Rapids' Thriller! Chiller! festival

Wednesday, Oct. 19 — Not long ago, Chadrick
O’Maelmona and writing partner Matt Snitgen were discussing future projects and
decided to try something new with vampires. “The recent over-saturation of the
genre seemed to have split into two categories: extreme romantics, like ‘Twilight’
and also the intense horror like ‘30 Days of Night,’” O’Maelmona said. They
felt there was more exploring to do.

They created the idea
of treating vampires as “pure drug addicts,” complete with their dealers, risks
of overdosing and crippled relationships, while keeping in mind these vampires
have to cope with their addictions while living for hundreds of years. “Add in
our own wicked sense of dark humor,” O’Maelmona said, “and ‘Lost in Heaven’ was

The film, from
Haslett-based Out of Cake Films (which O'Maelmona co-founded with Michael
Szmadzinski), screens Sunday as part of the Thriller! Chiller! festival in
Grand Rapids. The annual event features horror films from all over America and
11 other countries around the world in categories including sci-fi, action,
suspense and horror. “Heaven” is a vampire comedy about a pair of friends on a
hunt to expose the truth about the entire vampire race.

“We have no formal
degrees in filmmaking, but instead prefer a mix of DIY and trial and error,”
O’Maelmona said. “It allows us to form our own unique style of filmmaking.”

The advice O’Maelmona
has for upcoming and interested filmmakers is to use your camera: “Have some
friends? Throw them in front of it and just start shooting.” O’Maelmona says
that all you need is a desire and passion for filmmaking and “you'll figure the
rest out as you go and it'll be all the more rewarding.”

O’Maelmona recommends
checking out the work of Michael McCallum from Rebel Pictures because “the
things he's accomplished as a Lansing filmmaker are truly inspiring.”

Another local Thriller! Chiller! filmmaker is Joseph Parcell from Okemos, the
director of “Curiosity.”

started as a feature film bouncing around in Parcell’s mind for a while before he
participated in the East Lansing Film Festival's 48/5 competition.

were) given a prop, a line of dialogue, a location and a genre, and given 48
hours to make a five-minute film,” Parcell said.  His team drew “thriller”
for their genre, and he remembered his idea for “Curiosity.”

original feature version was called "The Room,” and the main character was
originally a 10-year-old girl who was convinced there were monsters in her
closet and tried to persuade her father they were real.

“We had
tightened it all up to be five minutes, and were ready to turn it in for the
competition, and we couldn't come up with the name,” Parcell said. In the silence, they sat wondering and the
film's star, Erin Parcell, said "Curiosity." They immediately loved it
because of the double meaning in the film.  They won second place in the
48/5 competition, and later screened it at the Blue Water Film Festival in Port

The first
film Parcell ever made was a feature film — before he knew anything about filmmaking.
“It's hard when you're doing a creative task to give yourself credit for doing
it, because you compare it to other people's work or see all the flaws,” he

Parcell said
aspiring filmmakers should look for opportunities to get involved locally, attend
screenings to network and do their homework to get a head start in the film

“They say
in the movie business it's all who you know, and that's true,” he said. “But it
doesn't necessarily mean you have to know Steven Spielberg.”

Thriller! Chiller!

Friday, Oct. 21 to
Sunday, Oct. 23

Grand Rapids

“Lost in Heaven”
screens at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 23 at Dirk Koning Micro Cinema, inside the
Wealthy Theatre,
1130 Wealthy SE

“Curiosity” screens at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 23 as
part of the “Michigan Shorts Program II,” also
, inside the Wealthy Theatre, 1130 Wealthy SE

Individual movie and
event tickets for Thriller! Chiller! are $5 each. Day passes are $15 for
general admission, or $10 for Grand Rapids Community Media Center and West
Michigan Film Video Alliance members; all-access festival passes are $30 for
general public, and $25 for members of Grand Rapids Community Media Center and
West Michigan Film Video Alliance. Tickets are available for purchase at the
Wealthy Theatre box office, or online at, or follow @thrillchill on Twitter