10th Annual

Hells Half Mile Film & Music Festival

September 24, 2015 to September 27, 2015

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4106 E Wilder Road #283
Bay City MI 48706
Phone: 989-225-3689

CLOSED FOR THE SEASON • Information may be outdated. Add this event to your Watch List and set a Remind-Me if you want to be notified when the next Call For Entries is posted.

Full Length Feature
All topics welcome. Films must be 40 minutes or longer to be considered "full length."
All topics welcome.
All topics welcome. Films must be 25 minutes or less to be considered in the "short film" category.
Foreign Language
All topics welcome. Films can be any length and must be subtitled.
All topics are welcome. Documentary films can be of any length.
Late Night Genre
Quirky? Scary. Off-putting? You know the type of "cult-like" films that are great for late night screenings. Films must be 40 minutes or longer to be considered "full length."
Music Focused Feature
A film that has a prominent music theme, such as documentaries on bands, or narrative stories centered around music.


The Hell's Half Mile Film & Music Festival (HHM) is the perfect mix of independent film and live indie music. You may not have heard of us yet, but we’ll try to leave you with a lasting impression as we have with past guests.

"I don't remember much of my two years going to Hell's Half Mile. That's how much fun I had." – Rider Strong, “Cabin Fever” and two time HHM guest.

Our taste is eclectic, everything from quirky comedy to hard hitting documentary to emotional drama. Our goal is to find "the little film that could" -- a bunch of them -- and bring the filmmakers together to take over Bay City, MI. Our primary concern is community, and the filmmakers who attend our long weekend walk away with lifelong friends and future collaborators.

In the last nine years over 100 directors, producers, screenwriters and actors have joined our growing audience. We provide travel and accommodations to a limited number of filmmakers, plus all-access passes and catered receptions. All venues are within a few block radius and hotels are within walking distance, making it super easy to get around. Visit hhmfest.com for links to the venues and video recaps of the 2012 through 2014 festivals. We schedule events to help you connect with each other and the local community. Our hope is to provide you with a casual, fun experience, including unique outings that give you a taste of the local flavor. It’s the least we can do in return for providing our festival-goers with great independent cinema.

"I’ve been to SXSW several times, San Francisco, a bunch of smaller festivals all over the U.S.it [Hell’s Half Mile] feels like the real deal. It’s people who genuinely love film, love the independent film community. The quality and lineup is incredible” – Ashley Spillers "Arlo and Julie"

Our hope is to provide you with a casual, fun experience, including a unique outing that gives you a taste of the local flavor. It’s the least we can do in return for providing our festival-goers with great independent cinema. Once you become an HHM alum you’ll receive fee waivers for future projects and all-access passes for subsequent HHM Fests, whether you have a film in our program or not. Additionally, upon selection, your first-year submission fees are refunded, making it easy (and affordable) to submit to another festival.

“Hell's Half Mile gives me warm feelings in my heart. The warm feeling in my pants is possibly unrelated. It’s worth every minute and it's the kind of festival that you make movies for.” – Kenny Stevenson, writer and actor, "Love, Sex and Missed Connections".

Filmmakers are encouraged to participate in panel discussions, receptions and other events. Because we are beginning to foster student and local filmmaking, we provide opportunities for guest filmmakers to present a workshop or lecture focused on a specific topic or specialty. Other guests are invited to screen our student and local short films and give constructive feedback to the filmmakers. This type of mentoring helps to strengthen local filmmaking and continue our relationships with area universities.


After nine years, HHM organizers continue to strive to be an innovative festival for genuinely independent films and original music. This festival is about connecting the filmmaker and the festival-goer. Period. Well, and parties too.

In addition to relentless promotion of films, HHM recognizes and rewards films with jury, programmer and audience awards, some with prizes. Prizes include a cash prize of $1000 for the “Hell’s Half Mile” jury award, as well as other valued prizes. The 2014 winner, the Icelandic film “Metalhead”, and 2013 winner, the documentary "Remote Area Medical" are the first two recipients the cash prize. Past jurors include Damien Chazelle (“Whiplash”), Adam Busch (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”), Adam Schartoff (Filmwax Radio), and Joey Kern (“Super Troopers”).

Each year HHM screens great narrative films, like the Midwest Premiere of Terry McMahon’s “Patrick’s Day” jury award winner for Best Feature at the 2014 Woodstock Film Festival, and winner of the Hell’s Half Mile jury award for Best Screenplay. Quirky comedies like James Westby’s “Rid of Me” and “The Auteur” have been big hits with HHM audiences. Co-director Mark Covino attended with the international hit "A Band Called Death" which won the HHM "Fest Best" award. Rider Strong has been a guest at HHM with four amazing films over two years, including “The Dungeon Master,” written and directed with his brother Shiloh and winner of the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival Best (Online) Short Film. Visit hhmfest.com for complete lists of all films presented.

Some of the great music we’ve had over the years connects our film and music events. Matt Pond PA joined us at HHM in 2010. This same year, screening at the festival was “Lebanon PA,” with original score by Matt Pond and Chris Hansen of Matt Pond PA. Another great band that performed at HHM in 2011 was The One AM Radio, led by Hrishikesh Hirway who also did the original music for the 2012 feature film “Save the Date.” Visit hhmfest.com for lists and links of previous music performers.

HHM, a partnership with the Bay Arts Council, utilizes a unique mix of venues including Bay City’s historic Mayan themed State Theatre, the Delta College Planetarium, and a turn-of-the-century red sandstone former Masonic Temple, saved from demolition by the Bay Arts Council. Likewise, the HHM organizers are looking for the right mix of creative and challenging works to bring to our seriously appreciative audiences. We hope you’ll consider us.

What's with the name?
In the late 1800's, a stretch of Bay City's riverfront was lined with raucous saloons and two-bit hotels where turn-of-the-century loggers and shipmen would go to blow off steam and take in more than a little local color. This strip was known to locals as Hell's Half Mile. "'Hell's Half Mile' was the strip of waterfront where lumberjacks used to go boozing and whoring. Now, a bunch of us from Hollywood go there for a film festival. Not much has changed." – Rider Strong

Time has passed, but the same rough-and-tumble spirit of the day is reborn in the Hell's Half Mile Film & Music Festival. Today, the city boasts a beautiful downtown riverfront with boutiques, restaurants, theatres, pubs, hotel accommodations and other points of interest....a state of the art planetarium, art galleries, a thriving business community, and an active shipping lane for Great Lakes freighters...Downtown Bay City is alive with activity.


Alan LaFave (Festival Registrar); Don Hessell (Programming Manager); Suzette Ulman (Festival Administrator)


The 10th HHM Film & Music Festival is open to all genres and categories (full length features, animation, shorts, documentaries, etc).

All entries must be submitted on DVD. Submissions will be returned at filmmakers expense only. For submission deadlines please see schedule. Extensions for submission may be made by contacting the festival director.

All submission fees are listed in the deadline/fee schedule. We recommend that entries submit press kits including a short synopsis, a filmmakers bio, a list of the principal cast and credits, a black/white productions still and any other media information available. All photos should be clearly identified on the back and will not be returned. Any photo submitted may be used for festival promotion. Electronic files preferred.


If selected, two copies of your film must be delivered to HHM by September 1, 2015 (proper screening format required)

What is your preferred format for submission?

Films should be submitted on DVD (DVD-R or DVD+R disc only; we do not accept dual layer DVDs or Blu-Rays.) DVDs MUST be compatible with standard consumer DVD players. Please ensure that your disc plays in a standard DVD player prior to sending to the Festival.

Please use permanent marker to label your DVD. Do not use a paper label on your disc; stickers and paper may make a disc unplayable. We prefer DVD’s to be sent in a simple paper CD/DVD sleeve in order to minimize waste.

We prefer that you send us NTSC formatted DVDs, but we will accept ALL REGION DVD submissions. Clearly mark the format on the DVD.

Final format for feature length films can be Blu-Ray or DVD, however, shorts must be in DVD or downloadable digital format using websites such as Vimeo or Dropbox.

Submissions using the student fee MUST include a copy of a current student ID with the submission.

Non-English language films must have subtitles.

The number, date and time of screenings are at the discretion of the festival.

Film selection announcements will be made in mid August.


Hell's Half Mile Film & Music Festival and the Bay Arts Council are hereby granted the right to utilize an excerpt from any film submitted and accepted for exhibition at the Festival for promotional purposes.

The individual or corporation submitting the film hereby warrants that it is authorized to commit the film for screening, and understands and accepts these requirements and regulations.

The undersigned shall indemnify and hold harmless Hell's Half Mile Film & Music Festival and the Bay Arts Council from and against any and all claims, liabilities, losses, damages, and expenses (including but not limited to attorney's fees, and costs of the court) which may be incurred by reason of any claim involving copyright, trademark, credits, publicity, screening, and loss of or damage to the screening videos entered.

If a film is accepted, the programmers request the right to screen the film for educational and promotional purpose, for the period of one year. And will do so, unless directed otherwise.