Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Interview: Days of the Dead promoter Adolfo Dorta
The ‘ol Son of Celluloid is excited folks. Really excited. Downright giddy to tell you the truth. As a horror freak, one of the things I’ve always wanted to do but never had the chance was go to a horror convention. There has never been a horror con in Atlanta, and traveling can be a rather expensive proposition. I’d look at those ads in Fangoria and Rue Morgue and hear people talk online about what a great time they had and think “Why? Why can’t something like that come to Atlanta?” Yes, there were horror events in town, but not a convention. The closest thing we have is DragonCon. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with D*Con, but there’s very little for the hardcore horror fan there. What little there is you have to search through a jungle of superheroes, Klingons, anime, steampunk, and D&D to find.
Well folks, the prayers of the dirty south gorehounds have been answered. Finally a real horror con is coming to the Atlanta Area. March 9-11 at the Wyndham Peachtree Conference Center in Peachtree City is Days of the Dead: Atlanta. Go check out their website HERE. Guests like Sid Haig, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Bill Moseley, Barbara Crampton, Gary Busey, and Linnea Quigley will appear, along with some killer movie screenings, events, and partying with fellow horror geeks. I, for one, can’t wait! I want to see all of my Cellmates there. It’s going to be epic. I spoke with co-promoter Adolfo Dorta to get the lowdown on what kind of coolness he has in store for us.
SOC: First of all, thank you for finally bringing a horror convention here. Why do you think it took so long for a horror convention to come to the Atlanta area?
Adolfo: You know, I'm puzzled by that myself. While other, much smaller, cities have gotten horror conventions in their respective backyards a major market such as Atlanta has gone woefully neglected. With such a rich underground horror scene and close proximity to other attractive markets in the southeastern United States, Atlanta seemed like a no-brainer to us.
SOC: What was it that made you choose to come here?
Adolfo: I'm originally a Florida native and have lots of friends from the Atlanta area who I know have longed to have a horror convention in their area for years. Additionally, with the success of Indianapolis, we were looking to expand and our good friend Circus Envy (who is from the area), did a great job of selling us on the idea of setting up shop in Atlanta on account of it having such a thriving underground horror culture. Finally, you have guys like Luke Godfrey (with Gorerhound Productions) and Shane Morton who have been raising such an excellent scene there for years, really setting the precedent for something like DAYS OF THE DEAD, and we're very thrilled to be working alongside them in taking the city to the next notch on the nationwide horror ladder.
SOC: Why did you decide to hold the event in Peachtree City instead of actually in Atlanta?
Adolfo: Our exact location was more a product of finding a great host hotel. The Wyndham Peachtree Conference Center was one of several on our list of possible locations but turned out to be the one who was willing to work the most with us in bringing DAYS OF THE DEAD to the region - they went so far as to call the site of our last Indianapolis show, the Wyndham Indianapolis West, to gather as much information about us and were ready with long list of ideas on how they could best cater to our needs based on a logistical level based off what they learned. They really did their homework on what it takes to host a horror convention successfully and have really gone above and beyond for us throughout the entire process.
SOC: What has the response been like from the Atlanta horror community?
Adolfo: It's been great so far and well exceeded our expectations. We've gotten a ton of emails from people excited to finally have a great horror convention in their home town area as well as a lot of enthusiasm from the local horror personalities, film makers, and media outlets. We're very stoked to be coming into a situation where we are being so warmly embraced.
SOC: Who are some of the guests you’re particularly excited about?
Adolfo: I look forward to all of our guests but being a total special FX geek, I always get excited about meeting the guys who make the props and creatures in my favorite horror films and Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr. are about as talented as they get in the business. I also love the "Men behind the Mask" guys, such as Derek Mears, Tyler Mane, and Brian Steele. Finally, I'm very interested in meeting Laurence Harvey after his excellent performance in Human Centipede 2.
SOC: What can con goers look forward to as far as programming and panels?
Adolfo: We love to keep the fans busy and out of their hotel rooms - basically if you have any down time, we didn't do our jobs. Aside from having over 30 celebrity guests on hand to meet fans and two dealer rooms with over 50 vendors, patrons will be kept busy all weekend long with an array of events including Wickedbeard's Costume Contest, our Scream Queens and Men Behind the Mask panels, close to a dozen film screenings, a tattoo contest, and other unique shows you wont see at other conventions. The party only just begins after the dealer room and celebrity rooms close, with our Monsters Among Us Costume Ball and An Evening With Roddy Piper on Friday night, VIP Party and Girls and Corpses Beauty Pageant on Saturday, and all manner of revelry and debauchery that has come to make the first DAYS OF THE DEAD show in Indianapolis legendary among convention fans.
SOC: Yeah, I've heard about the crazy party atmosphere of the Indy DOTD. Care to elaborate on what we're in for in Atlanta?
Adolfo: Haha. The last interview that I did where I spoke about this caused a local stir and got some local officials within Peachtree City a little concerned about the kind of party DAYS OF THE DEAD is anticipated to be. As with everything else that made that show so great, I hold the fans completely responsible, albeit in the best way possible. I’m curious to see if Atlanta can party as hard as Indianapolis, which left me VERY surprised mostly due to the fact that nobody got arrested that weekend. (SOC Note: Oh, let me assure you, Atlanta can party!)
SOC: What kind of movie screenings will there be?
Adolfo: We're very excited to be showing some great indie films from up and coming film makers in the genre, such as Joshua Hull's, Beverly Lane, and Zach Parker's, Scalene. We also have some films from local talent being featured such as Ace the Zombie and the much talked about, Dear God, No!. Finally, we also will be presenting the world premiere of The Collective: Volume 3 from Jabb Pictures, as well as a special never before shown workprint screening of Return of the Living Dead and a special midnight screening of Human Centipede 2 on Saturday night.
SOC: As a convention promoter, how important to you is using the con as a platform to help promote independent horror?
Adolfo: I’ve always said that while the mainstream celebrities are the glamour and glitz of a convention, the indie filmmakers and artists are its heart and soul. I have many of friends who are in the independent film business and their spirit well represents the future of the genre as well as film in general. As important as it is to be aware of your history, it is equally important to nurture the future.
SOC: Was DOTD Indianapolis the first con you promoted and if so, what did you learn that you instituted with DOTDA?
Adolfo: DAYS OF THE DEAD's Indianapolis show was in fact the first convention myself and Rick were involved in, however our other partner, Bill Philputt, has been doing them for many years and was even one of the people responsible for starting the HorrorHound convention in Indianapolis. While Rick and I may not have had much hands on experience going into the first one, we do have many, many years of convention going experience as fans which gave us quite a bit to draw from in terms of ideas when crafting THE ideal fan going experience. There were a few logistical hiccups in Indianapolis that we have learned from for Atlanta, but most of it is behind the scenes stuff that fans don't notice, the kinds of things were by correcting them we hope to work smarter and more efficiently as opposed to harder. It's actually flattering to repeatedly hear from many vendors, fans, and guests, that the first DAYS OF THE DEAD was one of the most organized and well run show they have ever attended.
SOC: It seems that horror cons are popping up more and more frequently in the last few years. What sets DOTD part and makes it unique?
Adolfo: It seems like many conventions out there are what I call "Coffee Shop Shows" - you walk in, make your selections, pay your money, and leave. From the onset, one of our biggest area of focus is to make DAYS OF THE DEAD a weekend long experience, almost like a mini-vacation for horror fans to enter a world outside of the one they occupy in their "normal" day to day lives. Between the film screenings, panels, guests, parties, and other events, there is plenty to do for a full 3 days. Most importantly though, DAYS OF THE DEAD is a "by the fans, for the fans" show - many other conventions may make similar claims, but DAYS OF THE DEAD truly lives up to it. Every patron is a member of our extended horror family and an individual reason as to why our show is unique and special. We provide all the ingredients for a killer reunion of horror fans and then turn it over to them to do the rest.
SOC: I've heard other con promoters/attendees talk about cons in the south having a unique atmosphere. What do you think will give DOTDA that "southern horror flair?"
Adolfo: Every show I've ever brings its own regional flavor as an influence to the overall product, from the midwest to the east coast to the south west. I don’t know that I can predict exactly what DAYS OF THE DEAD Atlanta is going to look like and I’m actually very excited to find out and be surprised by what the fans have in store for us, much as I was surprised with how Indianapolis turned out. The best we can do is set the stage, provide the tools, and then turn it over to the fans to dictate the direction in which the party goes in. In the end, it's the convention goers that represent the most important ingredient in any successful event.
SOC: What is your earliest memory of the horror genre, and what was it that made you a fan?
Adolfo: Much like most people my age, I grew up in the wonderful VHS era, where there was a mom and pop video rental store on every other corner. My mother was always strict about making sure I stayed out of the horror section lest I be stricken with nightmares by some of the ridiculous cover art that was so common back in those glory days. Despite her best attempts, I always found a way to sneak away and marvel at the gruesome, gory, and over the top imagery that adorned those beautiful boxes, and the fact that it was “forbidden fruit” made it that much more enticing. My curiosity went on to grow into a way of life, one which I have been fortunate to now turn into two really awesome projects – my website, From Dusk till Con, as well as DAYS OF THE DEAD.
SOC: If you had the power to bring in any one person, live, dead, or otherwise, as a guest at DOTDA, who would it be?
Adolfo: It would probably have to be Christopher Lee or Jamie Lee Curtis. Because as requested as they always are, I could probably retire after bringing them in. On a personal level, I would probably choose to resurrect Lon Chaney and have him as a guest. On a more realistic note, there are two living guests that would fit this criteria, and one of them will be a guest at DAYS OF THE DEAD's next Indianapolis show. The other is David Cronenberg.
SOC: Do you have any last words?
Adolfo: We're all very excited to be bringing DAYS OF THE DEAD to the Atlanta area and are hoping to have this be the first of many years of invading the Peach State. For those who haven't already, you can get your discounted advance tickets and book your hotel room at http://www.DaysoftheDead.net/Atlanta. See you at the show.