Ghosts and Superheroes: Interview with Nate Wilson and Ryan Freeman


When there’s something strange in your neighbourhood, who you gonna call? Four canny, clever and courageous women Ghostbusters step in to save New York from its ancient ghosts in the reboot of the 1980s cult comedy, screening August 9th at Parkway Forest Park. Ghostbusters will screen with Ryan Freeman’s Being Batman, a short documentary about our very own “Brampton Batman,” a local who feels a kinship to the caped crusader, and the award-winning short film Glow, directed by Nate Wilson, about a kid whose parents are possessed by ghosts.

Toronto Outdoor Picture Show invites you to journey to parks across the city for our Cinematic Cities programme all summer long.

TOPS: This year's Toronto Outdoor Picture Show programme is titled Cinematic Cities, a theme that draws bridges between vibrant and complex cities around the world while highlighting the people who make each of these cities unique. Do you have a favourite movie that captures the spirit of a city?

Nate Wilson (NW): I loved the grimy playground version of New York in the Safdie's Daddy Longlegs where a single father manages to use his awareness of its ins-and-outs to watch his kids. It's almost like an Abel Ferrara movie where nothing horrible happens. Recently, I really loved the grid-driver's apocalypse Los Angeles in Louis Malle's Model Shop. Also, John Waters always does Baltimore, but his version of it in Pecker is so warm, it's like a kids-film.

Ryan Freeman (RF): My favourite is the dream city in the movie Inception by Christopher Nolan. It shows how the human mind and imagination are limitless. In Inception, the city goes for as far as the eye can see so it’s this idea that the human spirit is capable of doing and creating anything.

TOPS: Is there a city that you dream of capturing on camera?

NW: I'd love to see Toronto as the messy, kind-of-all-over-the-place maze of a city it is. It's a pretty damn ugly thing on camera, so what else can you do there that's interesting and singular? Cincinnati is pretty cool too.

RF: I would have loved to film the walled city of Kowloon, China. It looks crazy, so far from anything I’ve seen. It has now been demolished for over 20 years, but in its glory, it was the densest place on the planet. It fascinates me and captures the best of my imagination.

TOPS: Ryan, where did you first meet Stephen Lawrence a.k.a. Brampton Batman? When did you know you wanted to document his story?

RF: I came across his Batmobile on Facebook. I knew immediately I wanted to meet this guy and document his story because it takes a unique person to buy a Batmobile replica. Little did I know how invested in the role he was. He opened up about how he suits up and goes out on patrol after work to keep the city safe and catch criminals.

TOPS: Nate, your film is paired with the recent Ghostbusters reboot, a film where the villains are ghosts. But are ghosts really that bad?

NW: Yeah, they are pretty bad.


TOPS: Ryan, your film is paired with the Ghostbusters reboot, a film about a team of underdogs finding the courage within themselves to protect their favourite city, much like your film. What role do you think dark horses have to play in a large metropolis?

RF: Being a dark horse, you bring a unique perspective to a city. It, therefore, allows for an advantage. Dark horses are usually people who aren’t afraid to be themselves, they are people who are unique and original and make up the culture and identity of a city.

TOPS: For you, what makes Toronto a cinematic city? Is there something special about Toronto that you draw inspiration from?

NW: The speed and people being kinda self-absorbed and lonely, and nobody being able to sleep too well, and everyone holding back about who they are and where they come from. The lonely rooms, and the whole city feeling like being on social media even when you're not. I grew up here and think the city is swell, but I think there's something really uncinematic about Toronto, at least from an outsider's perspective, so the job would be to really evoke the weird off-feeling of really living here.

RF: For me, “cinematic” is about telling a great story to the best of one's ability. Toronto is not short of people with powerful and inspiring stories. I guess that’s what’s most inspiring to me about Toronto. The people, really.

Glow and Being Batman screen alongside Ghostbusters on August 9th at Parkway Forest Park.