News Column

Starks Gets Key Role at ScareFest

May 14, 2013

Angela Oliver

May 14--This year's ScareFest will offer something new, and local filmmaker P.J. Starks will be a part of it.

The sixth annual horror convention, hosted at the Lexington Convention Center, will now include a film festival. John Thompsett, chief sponsor of the convention through his macabre art gallery, Izzy's Little Creepers, said he reached out to Starks after learning of the River City Festival of Films, which Starks founded in 2011.

"He's done great with that, and I was confident he'd be able to help since I've not done this before," Thompsett said. "I also wanted someone who could reach the talent in areas I might not know of."

Starks is co-coordinator of the film festival. ScareFest will also feature vendors, panels of horror and paranormal industry celebrities, midnight movies at the Kentucky Theatre and seminars on such topics as costuming, role playing and special effects.

"In the indie film world, horror is one of the most prevalent genres," Starks said. "It's easier to get into because it deals directly with the human condition."

Starks said he's aware of a few horror films currently being shot in the area. He's using social media and other tools to find interested filmmakers for the first submission deadline, July 15. The convention is Sept. 13-15 and will likely screen 15 to 20 short and feature-length films.

ScareFest was founded by certified ghost hunter Patti Starr and her company, Ghost Hunters International. Past appearances include "The Walking Dead" actor Chandler Riggs and "Candyman" series star Tony Todd.

About 14,000 people attended in 2012, Starks said.

"I'd read and heard a lot about ScareFest in horror magazines," he said. "It's a big deal in that industry, so to be approached to help with it is very validating. It means a lot to me."

Starks and Thompsett said they hope the film festival addition will encourage more filmmakers to attend the other aspects of the convention.

"It'll be a chance to build networks and learn from the other parts of the industry," said Thompsett, who is also a photographer and has been an extra in a few films. "You never know if someone in the audience will be able to take your project to the next level."

To enter the film festival, email or For more information on ScareFest, see


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