Where did the inspiration for Hirsute come from? Is there any work on time travel that you enjoy or used as reference?
I am a fan of many time travel films, from Primer to 12 Monkeys, but my fascination with time travel really began with Back to the Future. Not only did I love the film growing up, but it had so many logical inconsistencies that I couldn’t help imagining various alternate scenarios and contradictory timelines – fodder for twisted sequels. I actually became rather obsessed and even wrote a paper in university on what I called my “Many Martys” theory. The thesis being that logically the Back to the Future universe implies various timelines in which the Marty character would multiply via time travel and be forced to confront alternate versions of himself. Needless to say, the theory gets convoluted…
But it was this idea of potentially meeting alternate versions of oneself that really intrigued me. I started to wonder what I would think if I met myself at a different age, or perhaps more importantly, what he would think of me? Would we even get along? This all came to a head when I realized I was gay. I was forced to rationalize this undeniable chasm between my previous view of who I was and my current understanding of myself. I realized that if these two “versions” of myself ever met, they definitely would not get along and the consequences could be disastrous.
Hirsute combines a light, comedic side with a very dark, morose side—what’s the key to holding together a multi-dimensional story like this?
My aim was to make a comedic film in which your laughter gets increasingly more uncomfortable until you question whether you should be laughing at all. It’s a delicate balance and one that depends a great deal on the audience (at some screenings, people laugh right to the end). The concept for the film had a lot of potential for comedy and absurdity, but I tried to keep it all grounded in a subdued, semi-realistic world so that at the end I could dip into the darker potential of the story without it feeling forced. Even in the film’s lightest moments there is a tension between the characters that leaves the door open for things to go horribly wrong.
The film has run through a number of well-known but perhaps not big game festivals, what’s been your strategy for posting Hirsute online?
My main goal is to find the right audience for the film. You learn quickly as a young filmmaker that it is a very subjective business and bizarre, idiosyncratic films such as Hirsute will certainly not appeal to everyone. The key is to focus on the festivals and audiences that do connect with your work. We were very fortunate to premiere the film at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2007 and have toured over 50 festivals since then. The film was picked up by Logo TV in the states last fall, but I always felt that posting the film for free on the internet was the best way to open the film up to an even wider audience. However, now that the film is online, we are discovering that the real trick is convincing people to actually watch it!
What makes a great online film? Do you have any favorites?
On a technical level, a computer is usually not my ideal environment for watching a film. But the reality is that I consume more and more media this way. As a result I tend to appreciate online films that have interesting ideas behind them as opposed to epic story lines and lavish production values that cannot be appreciated in lower resolution. The films that stand out online are usually short, clever and eye catching, such as the delightful inanimation of PES. Other recent online discoveries include Daniel Askill’s mesmeric We Have Decided Not to Die and the chilling Bugcrush by Carter Smith.
What’s in the works? Any future collaborations with Jamie Travis, or is the directorial hat something you wish to continue wearing?
Having produced and edited a number of successful short films in the past (especially with director Jamie Travis), I have decided to focus solely on writing and directing my own films from now on. I am currently in the early stages of developing my first feature film and have several short film ideas on the back burner pending funding, including The Circumcision, a true story about a nine-year-old boy and the fate of his foreskin.