Passes for the 2021 Telluride Horror Show, which organizers plan to hold in-person, are on sale now. (Courtesy photo) 

In the entertainment business, it’s never too early to plan, especially after the plague year of 2020. While in-person gatherings gave way to virtual events, including festivals, local producers looked forward to the day that they would be able to welcome back the masses. 

Now, in 2021, with declining case counts and continued vaccination efforts, the entertainment industry is making a comeback, but organizers are still planning ahead. 

Ted Wilson, the founder of the Telluride Horror Show, explained that the film-centric festival Oct. 15-17 recently announced three-day pass and single ticket sales, and they’re going well so far, but his team is still creating a contingency plan in case the event must be significantly altered, or move online, like last year. 

“Our plan, or our hope, is to party like it's 2019, fully in-person. If we can pack the Palm, Nugget and Sheridan Opera House with horror fans, and give the films sold-out shows, that's what we'll do! Same with all the special events over the festival weekend,” he said this week. “Of course, we've all learned to, perhaps, expect the worst over the last year, so we are working on some back-up plans behind the scenes to have an additional venue or two if it's needed to spread people out, if restrictions come back in place. It's year 12 for us, and we'll do what we can to allow all of our past attendees to return to Telluride and not turn anyone away, if there are any capacity limits.”  

Fans of the genre festival, which is the first and biggest of its kind in the state, share Wilson’s enthusiasm, as pass sales have increased significantly, compared to 2019, the last year of an in-person horror show.

“Pass sales are up almost 50 percent to date,” Wilson said. “Any worries that people would be hesitant to come back isn't a worry right now. It's beyond encouraging to see everyone making their plans to be back in Telluride. This seems to be the case for most special events and festivals. There's a good chance we're going to have our own Roaring ’20s.”

The festival is currently accepting film submissions for shorts and features, with the next submission deadline June 30. A partnership with Vertigo Entertainment — a production company that has produced films like “The Ring” and “The Grudge” — means every short submission will also be eligible for review by Vertigo. The collaboration is a result of the horror show’s stacked short blocks, which typically sell out and have built a reputation of being the best on the genre’s circuit.

“We’re very excited to collaborate with the Telluride Horror Show and discover exciting new voices in the genre space. The festival’s programming team has great taste and a keen eye for pinpointing amazing filmmakers,” said Aengus McLoone, Vertigo’s creative executive, according to a news release. “We’ve had a lot of success working with first-time feature directors that we’ve discovered through some incredible short films, and we have no doubt this partnership will facilitate many more relationships to come.”

Wilson, along with the team of programmers, are already busy reviewing 2021 submissions, as well as planning other festival offerings like the Creepy Campfire Tales, but he’s a hardcore horror fan at heart. He shared some of the recent reads and new releases that he’s checked out. 

“Other than the hundreds of film submissions that are rolling in, finally watched ‘Marianne’ on Netflix. Highly recommend it, sufficiently creepy,” he said. “Anxious to see ‘A Quiet Place Part II.’ Come on, Nugget Theatre, we're dying for you to reopen.” 

He added that his current reading list includes “Survivor Song” by Paul Tremblay and Alma Katsu’s “The Hunger” — both are past festival participants — as well as “The Only Good Indians” by Colorado-based author Stephen Graham Jones. 

Six-pack tickets go on sale Aug. 1, and additional programming will be announced once it’s finalized. ut the goal for this year’s festival remains the same, Wilson explained. 

“The usual — have the best line-up of films we can get our hands on.  Already, we'll have new films from fest alumni, along with newcomers. Of all the years, it'll be great to have some alumni with us. They kept at their craft during the pandemic, and we're excited to showcase their work again,” he said. “I think the 2021 Telluride Horror Show will feel like a homecoming in a lot of ways.”