SHORTS: THE THRILL OF THE CHASE
SAT NOV 17, 19:00 HACKNEY HOUSE | 8,30 min | SOLD OUT
A journey through Toronto’s chilly cruising scene, and the pain and brutality that got the police so hot and bothered.
Hey Mark, thanks for talking to TNC, how is everything going?
Thanks very much for the interview! I’m about to dive into post-production on a new project: a queer horror short film.
Your short film Outside will be screened at Fringe! Queer Film Fest this November, what does it mean for you to be at the festival?
The programming at Fringe! is always bold and exciting, confronting important issues and showcasing provocative artists. I am honoured that ‘Outside’ has been selected to screen as part of this year’s festival.
How important is it for LGBTQ+ films like yourself to have a platform like Fringe! Queer Film Fest to be screened?
Though ‘Outside’ is a documentary, it is also somewhat experimental in form. It has had a difficult time fitting into the short film programs of other festivals, so I am very happy it has been embraced by Fringe! “The Thrill of the Chase” shorts program seems like the perfect home for ‘Outside’- an eclectic and stimulating collection of work on the topic of cruising.
Do you think these types of film festivals open up LGBTQ+ lives and stories to a wider, perhaps mainstream audience?
The lack of queer representation in media is still an issue. The opportunity to share our stories and showcase our work at film festivals like Fringe! is meaningful and vital to the artists, our community and yes, to a wider, perhaps mainstream audience.
Tell me a little bit about Outside, how did this film come about?
‘Outside’ was created with the support of the RT Collective. They invited selected artists to choose a topic to explore in the Canadian Lesbian + Gay Archives and make a short film based on this research. I was disturbed by Project Marie (a 2016 undercover police sting operation targeting men allegedly seeking consensual sex with other men in a Toronto park) and I wanted to make a film about it. Instead, I discovered a long, shameful past of Toronto police cracking down on cruising, regulating and targeting men seeking sex with men in the city’s parks and my film expanded in scope to chronicle this history. ‘Outside’ was produced with the assistance of the Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto and long-time collaborator Conor Fisher.
What was it about the cruising scene in Toronto that interested you as a filmmaker?
My hometown of Toronto has a reputation for being queer-friendly. ‘Outside’ opens with a description of the city relating to the LGBTQ+ community that one might expect. It is labelled a safe place of diversity, tolerance and acceptance that even hosted World Pride in 2014. But this voice-over is interrupted and cut off by outrageous facts and details of incidents involving police targeting the community for cruising throughout the years, right up until Project Marie. I couldn’t believe police went to the lengths of patrolling and surveilling a public park, even having plainclothes officers soliciting men for sex, then ticketing or arresting them, in this supposedly queer-friendly city in 2016. It infuriated me, and I wanted to make a film that not only exposed this history but fought back.
What were the biggest challenges you faced making Outside?
Shooting ‘Outside’ literally outside in -40ºC weather was probably one of the most difficult filmmaking experiences I have faced.
Have you always wanted to be a filmmaker?
I was always an avid reader and interested in music and photography. Filmmaking seemed like the best way to combine my passions.
How much has your approach to film changed since your debut short?
I feel like I have grown as a filmmaker since my debut short, gaining confidence to explore and experiment with form and content.
"If you don’t see yourself reflected or represented, share your story and make your voice heard."
Do you have any advice or tips for any fellow filmmakers?
Make work that is important to you and that only you can make. If you don’t see yourself reflected or represented, share your story and make your voice heard.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from Outside?
‘Outside’ confronts institutionalized homophobia, culminating in a defiant reclamation of public space. Hopefully, the film inspires viewers to stand up to homophobia and encourages queer people to proudly take space.