“Blood in the Snow”: Interview with Kelly Michael Stewart

Written for Rue Morgue.

If you’re A: Canadian, and B: the “leaving-the-house” type, you might’ve seen Kelly Michael Stewart skulking around Blood in the Snow Festival some point in its 5-year run. Stewart is the director and founder of the fest, which aims to shine a light on the best of Canadian genre films and the culture that follows them. He’s joined by Movie Madhouse’s Robert Bellamy on their new podcast, BITS Radio.

It seems everyone from established personalities like yourself to dudes who just happen to have a mic and one bar of signal are turning to podcasts to get the word out – why did now seem like a good time to put one together for BITS?

Yes there are quite a few podcasts out there but its something we’ve wanted to do a for a few years now. We have been working hard to create opportunities for filmmakers to help them year round not just for the 3 or 4 days during the festival. This is why we also have the BITS TV series, the Bloody BITS DVD compilation series and we are very active at most of the major conventions in southern Ontario throughout the year putting on panels, screenings and events. The consistent thing we hear from filmmakers after they play Blood in the Snow is that they don’t know what to do after their film has played. So we try and create as many opportunities as we can to promote their work and get it out to more people.

Your co-host is Movie Madhouse‘s Robert Bellamy. It’s clear what draws you guys together, but how did you two first meet?

Robert and his team from Movie Madhouse first came to BITS to cover the fest in 2015 and I was struck by their energy and excitement. Since then I’ve been on their show a few times and they had cover quite a few Canadian Horror films. So when I was putting together BITS Radio I felt like Robert was a natural fit to join this project. Robert tends to be the main host and I serve more as the colour commentary guy for BITS Radio. Seems to have worked well so far!

The interviews run the gamut from conversations about craft and passion to a more casual shooting-of-the-shit. Is that intentional or a happy accident?

I think the location of the first three episodes brought that out in us for sure. It is a crazy convention so we had people walking around with drinks and acting crazy throughout all our broadcasts!

But I think overall its good to have that mix because it is conversational show. That mix from craft and passion to the casual talking is pretty typical of how filmmakers talk in networking settings. In a way, the show is listening in on those conversations we have everyday in the “biz”.

Episode 1 featured guests like Hilarious House of Frightenstein‘s Mitch Markowitz and Shock Stock founder Jake Windatt, while episodes 2 and 3 seemed more focused on shorts. Do you expect the episodes to be themed?

Well the first three episode guests were based on who was attending the convention that weekend. So the common theme for those items really was being at Shock Stock than anything else. Most of the guests have done features as well but happen to talk about shorts they were working on in these episodes. In general our episodes will be largely based on what the latest news and releases that are coming out for Canadian Horror filmmakers. Episode 4 will feature the filmmakers from White Raven and Alysa King, star of Bed of the DeadHoly Hell and Berkshire County that just got released on DVD and VOD.

BITS Radio is 3 episodes in, and it feels like the show is already starting to find its direction. How do you see it evolving from this point? Is there anything in particular you’re excited to talk about?

It is hard to say where it will go but I really hope the show become a major news source of information and education on Canadian independent genre cinema.

You’ve said you hope the podcast will bring attention to some of the promising local talent. Who’s on your radar locally right now?

Well two of the films and filmmakers that were featured on the first few episodes that have got my attention recently are DEREK LUKOSIUS who has a new feature called The Lone Paddler that looks promising and The Human Cattle concept short that we talked about with MITCH MARKOWITZ and ALEXANDER SILVERBERG will be fantastic once they get in made into a full feature.

BITS TV on Fibe TV1 had you interviewing actors and filmmakers, also from the BITS Film Festival. What makes the podcast structure different from the TV series?

Well the TV series tends to be more an overview of the career of the guest at that point. So the TV series tends to be more of time capsule of where they are that that moment. The podcast series will both be a way of giving news on that filmmaker and generally catching up with them about that they are doing right now.

How often can we expect new episodes?

There is a formal schedule but I’d like to have a new episode every 2 to 3 weeks. We have just finished episode 4 and it will be out soon.

The first three episodes were recorded at Shock Stock in London, ON and dropped on June 9. You can check BITS Radio out here, or on YouTube.

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