Canadian Filmmakers Target the Nerd Herd for Fan Appeal

4:09 PM PST 07/25/2012 by Etan Vlessing

Canuck directors will this week be playing to the teeming hordes of fanboys at Montreal's Fantasia International Film Festival to generate buzz on the genre festival circuit.

TORONTO – Going more global with its marketing, Canadian film is having success targeting an unfamiliar fan base: nerds, dorks and fanboys on the genre festival circuit.

“Fantasia is no small festival. They’re known as taste-makers in the genre world. So to be given a gala is tremendous,” Casey Walker, director of the Canadian genre pic A Little Bit Zombie, said ahead of a Saturday night screening at the Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal.

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Walker is just back from a screening of the Crystal Lowe and Kristopher Turner-starring zombie rom-com at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

But as the international marketplace embraces genre titles, the Toronto filmmaker used his Fantasia booking for A Little Bit Zombie to snag additional invitations to the Razor Reel Fantastic Film Festival in Bruges and the Slash Film Festival in Vienna.

The current spate of Canadian genre films, including Jeff Renfroe’s upcoming The Colony, which stars Lawrence Fishburne and Bill Paxton, writer/director Brandon Cronenberg’s Anti-Viral, which bowed in Cannes, and April Mullen’s 3D horror film Dead Before Dawn, is tapping into the early roots of Canadian film with classic titles like David Cronenberg’s The Fly and Dead Ringers and Bob Clark’s 1974 slasher pic Black Christmas.

Also Fantasia-bound this week is writer/director Michael Peterson, who is coming off a round of “larping,” or live action, role-playing game, conferences to present his latest film, Lloyd the Conqueror, in Montreal.

“The (Fantasia) audience is virtually the same as the comic conventions, and better, because it’s soley film,” Peterson said after earlier screenings of his indie film at TooManyGames, Wizard World, and other genre festivals.

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“It’s basically direct access to our core audience – gamers, comic book fans and larpers,” he added of his tour of larping conventions in North America and Europe.

Lloyd the Conqueror, which stars Brian Posehn, Mike Smith and Evan Williams, portrays three male college students donning costumes to do battle against a dark wizard to pass their Medieval literature class.

“I’m not Stan Lee, but there’s some appreciation of not just being given a comic book or a DVD, but meeting some of the people behind the film, interacting and asking questions,” Peterson said of his Fantasia screening this week in Montreal.

Mixing humor and horror is very much been part of the current wave of Canadian genre titles, after the success of the 2006 indie zomedy Fido, by director Andrew Currie, the 2009 vampire comedy Suck, by writer/director Rob Stefaniuk and starring Jessica Paré (Mad Men), and Eli Craig’s festival favorite Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil.

A Little Bit Zombie’s Walker expects the Fantasia gig to open yet more doors on the festival circuit.

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“In the Fall, we’re getting into another festival in the U.S.. I wouldn’t be surprised if it plays in 30 U.S. festivals,” he added, after Phase Four Films picked up the U.S. home entertainment rights to the Canadian indie.

The Fantasia International Film Festival is running through to August 9.

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