In the nine years that Austin’s Fantastic Fest has existed, the once–scrappy film festival, formed by Tim League, Harry Knowles, Paul Alvarado-Dykstra, and Tim McCanlies, has featured world premieres of There Will Be Blood, Zombieland, Frankenweenie, and countless others. Additionally, League continues to delve deeply into the aesthetics of the films he loves by commissioning striking poster art, boutique toys and more through Mondo Art Gallery. It is an impressive resumé and one that continues to grow at an exponential clip, and now he is thrilled to expand further into the world of quality vinyl releases.
To learn more about the history of the festival and to discuss the huge news that Mondo acquired Death Waltz Records, our editor in chief, Brian Walton, caught up with League at Fantastic Fest to learn more about his imperial takeover in the universe of independent cult cinema and beyond. Discussing the trajectory of Fantastic Fest throughout the past decade, what becomes apparent is that League is both modest and assiduous–he is happy about his successes, sure, but he is way more exhilarated about the prospect of continuing to collaborate with likeminded people who care as much about films as he does.
“I’m just a little itchy sometimes, and if things are stable and things are good, then I look for something else that can be fun,” League says. “But the great part about that is that I get to hire a bunch of really good people.”
Scratching his latest itch involved acquiring cult film soundtrack label Death Waltz and enlisting founder Spencer Hickman to become Mondo’s new label manager, a move that surely see an uptick in concertedly wrought 180 gram vinyl issues of film scores with beautiful gatefold artwork. During his time with Death Waltz, Hickman has released plenty of work by John Carpenter, Alan Howarth, and Fabio Frizzi, so League is understandably thrilled to be welcoming him to his team.
“I am so excited about Spencer Hickman joining us–he’s a hero. He’s doing great, great work, so the idea of doing more by building more people and all working together to do really cool stuff is, I guess, my job!”
Beyond his work with Fantastic Fest, Alamo Drafthouse, and Mondo, League expends a lot of his free time helping Seattle’s Scarecrow Video become a non-profit movie archive, as it already boasts one of the largest compendiums of VHS in the country.
“The idea that that’s in financial trouble is not tolerable. So I volunteered to be on the board of directors, and I think it’s just a change of mindset. It already is an archive. It’s one of the largest collections of movies in North America, and it’s also this fragile VHS medium… I’m super excited to be a part of it, and definitely want it to be a success.”
Even when off the clock, League still manages to keep busy with the medium that clearly means so much to him. I think we are all grateful for that. Stay tuned for more news from this cult film luminary as he further illuminates the universe that enshrouds his favorite movies.