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Exclusive Interview With FrightFest Man Ian Rattray
By James Whittington, Monday 16th August 2010

Ian RattrayWith FrightFest 2010 only a matter of days away our series of FrightFest interviews draws to a close with a chat to the fourth member of the FrightFest gang, Ian Rattray. Here the ever friendly Scotsman chats about his encounter with The Exorcist, his favourite FrightFest moment and the plans he has for the future.

HC: Can you recall when your interest in horror/cult cinema begin?

IR: Very clearly. It was back in 1974. As a teenager I was on my very first trip to London, I think it was for some course to do with my job at the time, and I went to see The Exorcist. The film hadn’t played back in my hometown, so full of bravado, I pitched up to a West End cinema, it was the old ABC Swiss Centre, which isn’t even there any more, to see the film. To say it made an impression on me would be an understatement. It scared me sh*tless. For the rest of the three-week course I slept with a light on.

HC: Before I ask you about your involvement with FrightFest, can you tell us about your day job?

IR: My day job is in the film industry. I’m a film booker. Basically, I book the films that play in 10 small independent regional cinemas around the UK. I also do a little bit of film distribution.

HC: So how did you meet the other members of the FrightFest crew?

IR: I met Paul in the south of France at the Cannes Film Festival. I can remember it very clearly. I can still see him walking along the street towards me with this huge bag of swag that he had collected from various film offices that he had visited that day. I obviously didn’t make such a big impression on him, because when I ran into him at a screening back in the UK, he proceeded to call me John all evening. I met Alan and Greg through Paul.

HC: When you finished the first FrightFest did you have any inkling that it would evolve into such a huge event?

IR: No idea. I think we’d managed to attract 2,500 people the first year and. It was a hobby. Something we did over the summer. We had over 23,000 people last year. It is now pretty much a full-time job me from the time that we get back from Cannes in late May through to the end of October.

HC: Does each person on the team have specific roles?

IR: Yes this is correct. As the festival has grown we have had to specialise. I take care of the website, the technical side of the event, and all the boring stuff like the accounts and the VAT. I am also the editor of our new on-line magazine, The FrightFest E-Zine.

HC: How difficult is it to choose the movies that make up FrightFest?

IR: This has become easier over the years. In the beginning it was quite hard to convince distributors and filmmakers that they should play their films with us, but as the event has grown, people will often now approach us. Also, now as we each specialise more on our own part of the festival I have become less involved in the choice of films. I still have an input, but I really only get involved now when Paul and Alan can't agree on a particular film.

HC: Do you ever fall out with each other over what should and shouldn’t be shown?

IR: Not so much now, but we all have our favourites.

HC: Was the idea of the Discovery Screen yours?

IR: You know what, I don’t know, but I’ll take the credit though. It has certainly been a huge plus for the festival. It has allowed us to show smaller films that we would not necessarily have been able to do before. It also allows us to repeat films. For example, this year, we are screening Amer again. It was one of the hits from our Glasgow event from February.

HC: In your opinion what are the five finest films that have been shown at FrightFest?

IR: In no particular order I think they are Donnie Darko, Pitch Black, Oldboy, Pan’s Labyrinth and The Host.

HC: Do you have one moment from the last 11 years of FrightFest that stands out in your memory?

IR: FrightFest 2005 without a doubt. It was our first year at the Odeon West End and we had George A. Romero over. Paul, Alan and myself were onstage after doing our introductions at the beginning of the festival. Paul and I stood back while Alan introduced George. As George walked down to the stage to join us the audience rose to their feet and the ovation that followed and the outpouring of what I can only describe as love for this industry icon, brought the hairs up on the back of my neck. I had never experienced anything like that before. The memory has stuck with me ever since.

HC: So what’s next for FrightFest and what are your own plans for the future?

IR: I want to see the festival to continue to grow, and as we grow, I want to enhance our reputation as a must attend event for fans and filmmakers like. Personally, my focus in the next year will be to grow and improve our newly launched online magazine, the FrightFest E-Zine. I’d also like to lose a few pounds and grow my hair back, but that’s not going to happen.

HC: Ian Rattray, thank you very much.


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