What's with the name?

In the late 1800s, a stretch of Bay City's riverfront was lined with raucous saloons, gambling houses and two-bit hotels where lumbermen (and more than a few town-folk) would partake in debauchery.

"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, two time guest

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, hotels, 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.

our nonprofit mission

Hell’s Half Mile Events is a non-profit organization dedicated to celebrating and expanding the art of independent film, music, and entertainment. We strive to exceed expectations, while inspiring our community to participate in the arts.

Provide the alternative, entertain & inspire!

the festival

Hell's Half Mile is four days and nights of independent film, music and fun in Downtown Bay City, MI taking place each year in late September. After eleven 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 filmmakers and musicians with the festival-goers. Period. Well, parties too.


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.


from garage rock to alt. country to synthpop to hip hop


The Hell's Half Mile Team is all about gathering friends in different places to talk film and music. The beach. A bar. A rooftop. A yacht club. A park. How about a vintage furniture store? Did it!

We try to keep the films screening and the music screaming throughout the year after festival has ended. Our Music Showcases brings indie music to Bay City from all around the Midwest. Our Film Series allows us to expand our independent film offering over a six month period. Both events keep our audiences engaged and continued to build it bigger and bigger.