In June I had the opportunity to interview Decay Mag founder and head Ken Artuz. We talked about horror journalism, changes in the genre, and building a brand that people recognized and trusted within the community. This was around the same time that Fangoria was announcing its return so the topics seemed beyond relevant. Unfortunately, a series of mistakes on my part kept the interview from making it to print. Fast forward to October and the Women in Horror Film Festival and I had a chance to sit down with Ken face-to-face and give the interview a second pass.
What I'd hoped for was a Q&A session that I could quickly write up. Instead I was almost immediately treated to an evening long freeform discussion that went beyond a simple interview and, in my opinion, displayed one of the most incredible traits of the horror community: open collaboration. I've written this up as a handful of topics and transcribed parts of the conversation with a little bit of paraphrasing to make it flow a bit better. Decay Mag did a livestream of the conversation that I believe you can still find on their Instagram. My own audio is woefully inadequate because, as we’ll discuss in a moment, there are varying levels of technology and aptitude at play.
So, I interviewed ken in early June and, because of some wonderfully gnarly problems on my end, lost the whole damn thing. I was happy to see I was in good company.
Ken Artuz - Technical problems plague podcasts. You’ve got people with low end equipment, high end equipment, communication errors. I’ve lost things a couple of times and it made me want to cry inside. All you can do is just learn from your mistakes and keep moving forward.
Trailers can be the most important tool in filmmaking when it comes to generating interest in a project. The Women in Horror Film Festival added a trailer category to their 2018 lineup and it offered some incredible glimpses of things to come.
Ken Artuz - Trailers are a great marketing tool. They’re really becoming an investment tool. Most indie filmmakers are still having to do that 9 to 5 to pay bills and live life and a good trailer can get some financial interest started in their project. On the DecayMag Podcast we do trailer first impressions and I’ve had a lot of people ask me “Why are you reviewing trailers?” A good trailer can show you the best of the cinematography, the acting, and even give you a glimpse at the creature concepts and special effects.
Dan - And with the current generation coming into horror, my son’s generation, marketing like that is crucial.
Ken Artuz - Absolutely. It’s very important.
Ken Artuz - Everything should be like this [WiHFF]. Coming together in settings like this, collaborating and trying to build each other up. It’s what we should be doing, especially in the independent scene. When Waylon Jordan (iHorror) and Tori Danielle (Pop Horror) won awards for their journalistic contributions to the community there was no jealousy or upset feelings. We all felt like we had won alongside them. We’re genuinely happy to see these great people building within the community recognized. I’ve been to martial arts and action film festivals but only the horror community seems to transcend and embrace all parts of the community.
Ken Artuz - With casual viewers and audiences a film festival gets dismissed so easily because of the short form and some of the low production values. But then they go to the theater and see something new and they ask “Why don’t we see this more often?” You just want to tell them to take their asses to a film festival! But that’s the culture right now in Hollywood. It’s about money over art. It’s why so much horror is rated PG-13.
The Future of Indie Horror
Ken Artuz - Indie is going to overtake Hollywood. Look at the amazing, talented filmmakers here. In five years indie is going to be the driving force and places like Netflix and Amazon are already out front. YouTube is garbage now because of the current political and social landscape and creators are already moving away from it. Instagram Live and IGTV are going to be a big part of that future. There are all these tools and technologies available now to everybody and a lot of them are free. It’s going to open it up to a lot of new filmmakers and then the sky’s the limit.
The indie scene is already taking over. With things like Seed and Spark and Patreon you can get so many projects funded and bring in money to make these films. The illusion that you can only get your story made by conceding to the big studios is falling apart.
Going into horror journalism and entertainment I had some preconceived and grossly inaccurate opinions and views on what exactly I was getting into. What I've found has been largely positive. People like Ken Artuz (and DecayMag) and events like the Women in Horror Film Festival bring out the best in the community and invite collaboration and creativity within all the different artistic mediums making up the genre and culture. You can listen to the full, at times rambling (because it’s me) audio of my interview with Ken here and you can hear us rehash all this and more during my hour long segment on the DecayMag Podcast’s 100th episode.
Dan is an author, editorialist, podcaster, and horror culture & lifestyle correspondent from the Southeast. You can find Dan's stories at Danno of the Dead Blog and through PDI Press.