With all the work Adam Lopez is doing for the Toronto After Dark Film Festival, one would think he was undead.
The 41-year-old Lawrence Park resident is finishing up the final touches on the homage to genre movies, and could squeeze in only a 15-minute chat through the phone lines.
Keeping him busier than Van Helsing after a vampire is the event’s program guides, something he was working away at while on speaker phone.
“It’s gorgeous when you see fans and filmmakers reading it at the festival, but the amount of blood, sweat and tears that goes into getting an image for every film from around the world, and you’re dealing with artists, filmmakers who maybe haven’t taken
the best shots from their movies,” he said, his English accent lurking like Nosferatu.
He’s been in Canada for 15 years — arrived via Finchley, in the north of London — and he brought with him his penchant
for horror and science fiction.
Then eight years ago he had an epiphany.
Feeling burned out from the pressures of his career in advertising — “it’s nothing as glamourous as Mad Men, I’ll tell you” — he found himself looking for something to do as a career change: “I tried teaching actually. I tried teaching marketing at Ryerson
and York University.”
He shares a flashback of his youth, watching the Universal monster work their magic in black and white, as well as the gothic tales from Hammer Film Productions.
“Teaching didn’t quite work out for me, so, I always had a passion for film, and I went back to my childhood and thought, when was I at my happiest?” he says excitedly. “When I was 13 years old, in England, I ran a sci-fi, horror movie club at my high
“I thought, why don’t I do something like that? And I looked at Toronto and asked, what would that be?”
With a little help from wife Maria, Lopez started Toronto After Dark, which originally called the Bloor Cinema home. Now, Lopez and company have moved their spooky show down to Cineplex’s Scotiabank Theatre, in the heart of the Entertainment District.
“Oddly enough, Cineplex made up a lot more alternative programming, and we just went to talk with them, because they were doing a bunch of one-off screening nights: The Evil Dead, horror and all that stuff,” Lopez relates. “We thought, well that’s our kind of crowd, so we got to talking to some effect.”
Toronto After Dark shows movies to crowds of 400-500 or more from independent filmmakers, gets 700 submissions a year and sells about 10,000 tickets.
“Someone doesn’t want to just see a zombie film, they want to see an independent zombie film from Germany,” he says, with a laugh. “And where are you going to find these people?”
Facebook and Twitter have worked really well in locating fans in Toronto, many of whom are scattered across the city, he said.
“We give them a community.”
The aim, Lopez assures, is to not only satiate fans’ needs for horror, science fiction, action and fantasy, but to help promote the flicks.
Lopez says films are not merely programmed here, but “adopted.”
“We really adopt them in terms of how much marketing and publicity we do for them. The filmmakers are really happy when they come here.”
We Are What We Are kicks off the festival on Oct. 17. It’s a sordid tale of a family that tries to hide its wanton need for human flesh from a suspicious community. Israel production Big Bad Wolves closes the festival on Oct. 25 with a total of 20 films piling
up the body count via the celluloid medium.
Lopez wouldn’t have it any other way.
“That was all a part of my psyche as a kid: gothic horror, monster horror, space travel, time travel,” he coos. “I loved it all, and to be able to have a festival where we embrace everything from time travel to aliens to zombies — all these things which I call the thrilling genres — I’m happy to have found other fans who’ll have fun every Halloween with us.”