Festival relieves genre fans spring fever


This past weekend I attended the 4th annual Toronto International Spring of Horror and Fantasy Film Festival; 10 features 24 shorts and 9 music videos, comprised this year’s offerings.  The festival opened with the touching Chinese Drama LAST SUNRISE (Screening with ANIMALS and JOG), some notable moments during the festival were the Scream Queen/King competition before Saturday’s midnight screening of the Tarantinoesque, cel-shaded animation styled THE NEXT KILL(REVENGE OF THE SLASHER), hightlight of the shorts block HELSINKI MANSPLAINING MASSACRE, and the closing night comedy/horror anthology THE FINAL RIDE (COCKROACH BRAIN, THIRD WHEEL, AND THE CHICKEN’S REVENGE).

In an interview with festival founders Jon Lewis & Lari Teräs, I learned the motivations behind the creation of TISH, the lessons learned along the way, and what the future holds for this fledgling festival.  They both watch every film which is submitted to the festival from the beginning all the way to the end credits, because the filmmakers put all that effort into it and they like to treat each submission as if it is their own film.  As neither founder has any drawing ability, their iconic logo was sketched out by friend Ashley Macdonald, and finalized by Tyler Burry.

During the past four years, the festival has received over 900 film submissions, from every continent except Antarctica (Teräs jokes, maybe they’ll screen the THING one year), with plans for expansion in the future, this festival is not going anywhere; expect year five to be even bigger and better.  Follow TISH for updates, and watch for ticket sales next year, because you don’t want to miss out on some great genre films from around the world.

Here is the interview in its entirety.  It was recorded during a working lunch so apologies for the background noise & interruptions from the waitress.

Gamers help raise funds to help sick and injured kids

On April 1, I had the chance to sit down with Matt Bryan, one of four committee leads for the Toronto guild of Extra Life, part of the Children’s Miracle Network, it’s a fundraiser which uses gaming (primarily D&D locally) to help people raise money for their local hospitals. When signing up to join, members can choose from over 150 hospitals across North America to support, irregardless of where they live.

Since its inception in 2008, Extra Life has raised more than $50 million for sick and injured kids.  The idea is that we’re going to play games anyways, so why not raise money to help improve these kids lives.  While Matt has been doing this for 7 years, the Toronto guild was only founded four years ago, and since then it has raised over one million dollars for Toronto Sick Kids Hospital.  You also do not have to live in the GTA to support the guild; according to Bryan, their biggest fundraiser is a streamer who lives in Sudbury, ON.  If you are looking for more information you can check out Extra Life the Toronto Guild or look them up on Discord.  If you would like to help but you’re not a gamer, you can look up a community member and donate to their page; click here to help me reach my goal for Sick Kids in Toronto.

There was a great deal more information I received during this interview, so I have included it here for those of you who would like to give it a listen in its entirety. Please excuse my lack of editing skills, I’m still learning 🙂

A weekend of Horror & Fantasy

Spring is in the air, and so is the scent of terror with TISH, (the Toronto Int’l Spring of Horror & Fantasy Film Festival), which begins It’s fourth Year on Friday, April  and is set to run until Sunday April 7; at Imagine Cinemas Carlton Cinema.

Founded in 2016, by film aficionados Lari Teräs and Jon Lewis, the aim of TISH is to showcase the best genre films from around the World. The focus is on new voices and creativity over big budgets. In addition to dedicated short film blocks, the festival schedules each feature with short films and a genre appropriate music video at the beginning to set the mood.

Local gaming convention is the perfect way to BREAKOUT of winter

On the 15-17 of March I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to attend Breakout Con in Toronto, ON.  Never have I been to an event which had such a welcoming, friendly, and inclusive environment.  Just from the looks on the attendees faces, you could tell that they were truly enjoying themselves.  Of note were the number of independent game developers(who were more that happy to demonstrate their game) in attendance, the buy and sell auction area, where you could grab more games than you needed, the open play room, the 24-hour gaming room, and an amazing group of organizers and volunteers.

Speaking with two of the event creators, Rob Deobald and Kate Bullock I learned that Breakout was created to fill a need by the Toronto Area Boardgame  Society (TABS)for a place where people who played board games, role playing games, and tabletop games could meet and socialize. The current organizers were brought on to run the RPG side of things 4 years ago.  When approached by TABS, the organizers brought the Toronto Gaymers (who sponsored the lanyards this year) on board, to help ensure that the convention would be an inclusive, safe space for marginalized voices. “…it was always one of our core tenets, so we brought that with us when we came to the table”, says Bullock As one attendee put it, “…I’ve never been to such a gay con, there’s more queers here than Pride.”  When asked what the future holds, I was told Breakout isn’t going anywhere, and while shows don’t do well “going on the road”, the organizers are available to give advice on how to avoid the myriad of problems that an event organizer can run into; and that many larger cons have done.

Probably the greatest kudos I heard over the weekend came from one of the Toronto Gaymers, who is a die-hard video gamer. “Other than dabbling with D&D I’m not into tabletop gaming, and I love this convention.”  So if you have any interest in gaming at all, it is definitely worth the trip to Toronto for this unique gaming convention.

I still have interviews with developers yet to be completed, so check back regularly, as I will upload links to those as they become available.  Have a great week nerdlings.

Give Winter A Good Kick

This Saturday, March 2 a short film with a big heart will have its World Premiere at the White Water Gallery in North Bay, ON.  A completely independent production, Ghost Beaver Kick follows the story of one woodsman, his robotic friend, and a special beaver, as they must stop an evil organisation from destroying the world (think Power Rangers meets 70’s Kung Fu movies, with a dash of Red Green).

Join Ghost Beaver Kick, Sigma, and Mr. Maples as they face off against ninjas, raiders, lizardmen, and enthusiastic snowmobilers in their attempt to get from Northern Ontario to Southern Ontario, where they face off against the nefarious Moonitsu and its leader The Business.  GBK has kicks, explosions, beavers, bad accents, and an awesome soundtrack featuring The Angry Pants, David Dino White, and The Surf Zombies! Doors open at 6:30, with two showings at 7pm and 9pm. Entry is a cash donation of your choice. It is sponsored by New Ontario Brewing Co. so you can enjoy a good brew while viewing some good cinema.  Check out a trailer for the Premiere here https://bit.ly/2GJxTmJ

A story of bravery, courage, heart, and the flammability of corduroy pants; with more Canadiana than a jug of maple syrup.

See you there nerdlings

A Weekend of Gaming

Do you love tabletop gaming? I sure do, and I know where I’ll be March 15-17, 2019; at Breakout Con.  For the past four years, the Toronto gaming community has gotten together to produce one of the largest tabletop specific conventions in the country; with a Cornerstone Policy of inclusiveness and diversity throughout its events.  Held at the Sheraton Centre, Breakout is centrally located in downtown Toronto, steps from public transit; a venue which is fully accessible, and can handle the ever increasing attendance (1400+ attendees in 2018).  Aside from gaming, Breakout also offers a play to win giveaway, panels run by industry guests, and the ever popular Bring n Buy auction, where the best deals can be found on new and classic games alike.

This year Breakout will be hosting over 60 industry guests representing the various areas of tabletop (development, artists, podcasters, Youtubers, and more) including, Nikki Valens (Arkham Horror 3E, Eldritch Horror), a designer known for her advocacy of inclusiveness in gaming; John Wick Presents’ Director of Sales and Marketing Melissa Lewis-Gentry; and veteran game designer, John Butterfield (Voyage of the Pandora, Dawn of the Dead).

With all the table-top gaming you can pack in over three solid days, prizes, tournaments and industry guests planned, there’s simply no better way to close off the March Break. Hope to see you there nerdlings. To purchase tickets, or for more info, visit http://www.breakoutcon.com

Shogatsu in the Snow

As previously announced, I attended the second edition of Anime Shogatsu, held at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre in Toronto, on January 19.  Despite a full on assault by old man winter, with windchill values in the -20’s and a lot of snow, the event saw an amazing turnout.  With live dance troupe performances, a cosplay masquerade, Beyblade tournament, tabletop gaming, and a marketplace there was something for everyone. Not to mention the venue, which showcases the history of Japanese Canadians in Canada, and houses an art exhibition hall.