First Award This! Ceremony Shines Light on Independent Filmmakers
February 21, 2020
For independent filmmakers like 37-year-old Jared Cohn, making movies is life. Cohn doesn’t do it for praise and recognition; he creates films to tell stories, motivate change and to inspire others.
Cohn has been directing, producing and writing films in Hollywood for 17 years. Some of his works feature big stars like William Shatner, but most are completely devoid of the headline-grabbing Hollywood elite. Although his work has received some minor accolades throughout the years, 2020 became the year Cohn received his first major award: Devil’s Revenge, a 2019 horror that Cohn directed, won Best Indie Horror Film at the Award This! ceremony. The event was created and produced by Film Threat, an online publication that focuses primarily on independent film.
“There were some really talented directors and films in the category, so I wasn’t sure if I was going to win,” Cohn said.
“But the film I was part of did, and I was happily surprised and appreciative.”
Devil’s Revenge, produced by Cleopatra Entertainment, is about a down-on-his-luck archaeologist who returns from a cave expedition that contains a cursed relic that's also a portal to hell. He discovers that the only way to stop the curse on his family is to go back to the cave and destroy the relic. It was one of nine choices in the indie horror category at Award This! and Cohn was excited to win.
“It is really cool that Film Threat put something on for independent films,” he said.
“I think independent films come from a place of more heart sometimes and to shine a light and support them is really cool.”
The event was a no-brainer for Chris Gore, publisher and editor of Film Threat and the mastermind of the Award This! ceremony.
“I’ve had this idea for years,” Gore said.
“Every year I look at the landscape of films being awarded and it’s a ton of awards shows awarding the same film. I wanted to create an awards event that wasn’t filled with the kind of elitism the other awards shows have and to recognize all the independent films and filmmakers.”
The journey to Award This! began in 2019 when Gore and his team experimented with an online awards event on YouTube. He hosted it from his couch on the same evening as the Oscars®. During the show, Gore and a few others did live commentary, and on the commercials they announced awards to independent filmmakers.
“It was done as a goof, but the filmmakers took it seriously and celebrated their wins online,” Gore said.
“So it went from a couch to a movie theatre in Glendale and we plan to grow the event next year.”
The 2020 Award This! ceremony was held Wednesday, Feb. 5 at the Studio Movie Grill in Glendale. The evening included food and drinks, comedy and networking followed by an exciting few hours recognizing some of the best in independent filmmaking. Two hundred people attended and there was standing room only. The ceremony had 17 award categories; everything from Indie Movie of the Year to Socially-Relevant Documentary to Indie WTF is this Movie Even? Gore refers to those nominated as “unsung heroes” and “diamonds in the rough” within the mass media landscape.
“I just feel gratified,” Gore said.
“It was great to see the looks on the filmmakers faces — filmmakers who work just as hard as filmmakers at any awards show. Just to see them get recognition and see how much it means to them, it feels great.”
Film Threat reviews approximately 3,000 independent films every year. For the ceremony, the publication reviewed 86 movies across 17 different categories. Most films were made in the U.S. but Gore hopes to expand international categories in the future.
Film Threat’s writing team of more than 30 people based all over the world chose the nominees with the help of an advisory board. For eligibility, all films nominated must have been reviewed by Film Threat and must be commercially available.
“I hope sponsors come to support us because what they are doing is supporting true independent films,” Gore said.
“We are looking for more sponsors so 1,000 people can attend, so we can use PR resources to help promote the films.”
At the end of the 2020 ceremony, Gore said, actor Hal Sparks took to the stage to say, “Use these nominees as your watch list now because all of these films are worth your attention. Whether they won or not is irrelevant.”
It’s a list that includes Cohn, who is ecstatic to have received recognition at Award This! and who hopes it will help him continue to find meaningful work.
“Attention producers out there, hire me and your film will potentially win an award,” Cohn laughed.
“And thanks to Award This! for making this possible.”
To find out more information about the rules and regulations for the award ceremony, visit their website.
Written by: Allison NorlianAllison Norlian is a three-time, Emmy-nominated journalist who has worked as a television reporter and anchor in markets around the country. She has covered a variety of stories from the riots in Charlottesville, Virginia to President Trump’s travel ban in the fourth circuit court of appeals. Allison has also won AP awards for her work and a Catalyst For Change award from the Arc of Virginia for her reporting on the disabled community. Allison just moved to Los Angeles with her screen writer husband and two cats and is excited for all LA has to offer!