11th Annual

Hells Half Mile Film & Music Festival

September 22, 2016 to September 25, 2016

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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CLOSED FOR THE SEASON • Information may be outdated.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.

Narrative Feature
All topics welcome. Films must be 45 minutes or longer to be considered "Narrative Feature."
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.
Documentary Feature
All topics are welcome. Documentary features must be 45 minutes or longer.
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 45 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. To be considered "Feature" length, film must be 45 minutes or longer


The Hell's Half Mile Film & Music Festival (HHM) is the perfect mix of independent film and live indie music. Still under the radar, but we’re starting to make an impact with our 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 guest.

Our taste is eclectic, everything from quirky comedies to hard hitting documentaries to emotional drama. Our goal is to find "the little film that could" -- a bunch of them actually -- 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.

"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"

The Hell’s Half Mile audience isn’t the jaded, over-exposed audience of the big festivals. They’re hungry and appreciative of great storytelling and genuinely open-minded to cinema from unknown independent filmmakers.

Over the last ten years over 100 directors, producers, screenwriters and actors have joined our growing audience. We provide travel and accommodations to a select number of filmmakers, plus all-access passes and catered receptions. All of our 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 previous festivals. We schedule events to help connect you with other filmmakers, musicians, movie fans, and our supportive local community. Our goal is to provide you with a professional, casual and fun experience during your stay with us, 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.

Once your festival experience ends, Hell’s Half Mile looks to the future. HHM alumni receive fee waivers for future projects and all-access passes for subsequent year’s festivals, whether you have a film in our program or not. We continue to support alumni projects through social media and newsletters celebrating victories and other milestones through our growing network of filmmakers and film lovers.

“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".

Guests are not left alone to fend for themselves amidst our rabid audiences and interested community members. Programmers and organizers are ever present and ready with introductions, recommendations and the occasional swift exit from oversharers. Bay City nights are filled with raw rock and roll sounds giving us the moniker of “little Detroit”, especially into the wee hours at super-secret-after-parties. Daytime in Bay City is cool Fall days with sunny riverside strolls or bike rides past historic lumber baron mansions. Or, there are always plenty of great films to watch. Its up to you!

Filmmakers are also encouraged to participate in panel discussions, receptions and other events. We continue to foster student and local filmmaking, which provides 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.

Hell’s Half Mile, ranked 27th in Moviemaker Magazine’s Top 25 Coolest Film Festivals of 2016. Just a prediction.


After ten years, Hell’s Half Mile 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, Hell’s Half Mile recognizes and rewards films with jury, programmer and audience awards, some with prizes. Prizes include a cash prize of $1000 for the Grand Jury Award, as well as other valued prizes. Grand Jury Winners include the controversial “Lamb” (2015), the Icelandic “Metalhead” (2014), and the acclaimed documentary "Remote Area Medical" (2013). Past jurors include Damien Chazelle (Whiplash), Adam Busch (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Adam Schartoff (Filmwax Radio), Jasmine McGlade (Maria My Love), Joey Kern (“Super Troopers”), Geoff Marslett (Loves Her Gun), WAW Parker (Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench), Rider Strong (Cabin Fever), Leslie Raymond (Ann Arbor Film Festival), Mark Covino (A Band Called Death), Michael Dunaway (Paste Magazine), Joel Potrykus (Buzzard) and Jeff Meyers (Metro Times).

Each year we screen 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 Neil LaBute’s “Dirty Weekend” 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 Hell’s Half Mile programmers are looking for the right mix of creative and challenging works, including those from underserved segments of the film community, 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 11th HHM Film & Music Festival is open to all genres and categories (features, animation, shorts, documentaries, etc).

All entries must be submitted with an online screener. Our preference is Vimeo, as it's usually the best quality and consistently reliable.

If you prefer to submit on DVD, some exceptions will be made. Please email don@hellshalfmile.com and request an exception. If you submit via DVD it may 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, production stills 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, 2016 (proper screening format required)

What is your preferred format for screening?

Features for screening purposes should be on Blu-Ray or DVD (DVD-R or DVD+R disc only; we do not accept dual layer DVDs) DVDs MUST be compatible with standard consumer DVD players. Shorts we request that you provide a digital download file of your film for easy compilation into our shorts programs in one of the following formats: Quicktime movie (.mov) using ProRes422 or H264 as your codec, 1920 x 1080; or 1080p. We want to use the best source for minimal degradation when compiled for our program. Please communicate file type and delivery method and request confirmation as an acceptable format before sending.

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.

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.