Leader of the High Notes Movie Club
It’s no secret that Emmanuel Lopez loves movies. In fact, they saved his life. Emmanuel, who goes by the nickname Motivatorman, went through a serious bout of clinical depression in 2000. The episode lasted an entire year, and predated his diagnosis. Without medication or therapy in his toolkit, Emmanuel turned to the movies, which provided him relief on his darkest days.
“My Dad passed just before Christmas 2000,” Emmanuel remembers, “and his favourite movie was Groundhog Day. Every time it came on TV, I felt like I wasn’t alone.”
Emmanuel had always been a movie fan, from childhood memories of falling asleep during the Sound of Music in theatres (“I always thought that movie ended with the wedding scene,” he laughs), to his father regularly taking the family to the cinema, and sneaking him into Apocalypse Now.
As he grew older though, and learned more about his mental health, he started to appreciate the healing power of movies. He realized that much like Phil Connors, Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day, or Andy Dufresne in the Shawshank Redemption, he wasn’t alone going through hard things.
A talented writer and illustrator, Emmanuel turned to the internet, and made the early foray into the world of blogging. The blog quickly picked up traction, leading to an international devoted readership, and speaking opportunities with large organizations about the healing power of movies.
Emmanuel also came to better understand his own mental health issues, including Seasonal Affective Disorder, which makes Canada’s long and dark winters impossibly difficult some days. Naturally, he’s found solace in the light of the silver screen. In an ideal world, Emmanuel notes that he would rather be in a large cinema, seeing a great movie with a friend, “and the hot fresh buttered popcorn with butter layered throughout is necessary.” Yet when the pandemic hit and theatres were quickly shuttered, Emmanuel realized that watching movies at home together, even while physically separate, could help everyone feel a little less lonely.
Emmanuel had met Ingrid at a previous High Notes concert, but in 2020 the registered charity received funding to help people with mental health issues cope with isolation, and Ingrid asked Emmanuel to begin the High Notes movie club.
Very quickly the movie club built into something magical. For one hour a month, they would gather virtually to talk about movies they had watched, and the club quickly grew an international following. “We have two members from Chicago, a few from the East Coast of Canada, and even one from Bangkok,” Emmanuel explains proudly.
The club is not just restricted to movies – they’ll discuss TV shows as well, but Emmanuel is committed to making it a place where participants can be comfortable to discuss their feelings openly. When members are not feeling well enough to participate, many will email him to apologize for their absence, and tell him how much they look forward to his email follow up.
“They’ll also write to me in advance and ask me to tell everyone else in the group hello, and apologize for being unable to attend,” he adds.
“The club is life saving in so many ways,” adds Emmanuel, even for himself. “I love doing it, and there are days during the darkest moments where I’m really not feeling well, but then I get on and I see those friendly faces and I’m totally transformed.”
Today Emmanuel has transformed himself from his previous career as an illustrator to his newest endeavor as what he describes a ‘self care wellness influencer.’ He proudly uses his online persona to speak about things that boost his mood, such as food, thrift store shopping, and of course the movies.
Emmanuel may be a Self Care Superhero in real life and on your smartphone, but for him, he’s always looking up to those he enjoys watching on the big screen.