A Conversation w/ Jordan Coulombe and Alexandre Grégoire
The following email conversation took place in August 2015, upon the acquisition of Moon Trail (2015) directed by Alexandre Grégoire and Jordan Coulombe for active Video Out distribution. This work was presented at the eighth installment of Video Out’s New Additions Series which was held on August 12th 2015 from 7:30pm – 9:30pm at VIVO Media Arts Centre, 2625 Kaslo St.
SJD: Shauna Jean Doherty
AG: Alexandre Grégoire
JC: Jordan Coulombe
SJD: How did the collaboration between you two on this video come about?
JC: Haha. I actually met Alex through our mutual ex-boyfriend a few years ago and quickly began to admire his work. When I was tasked with creating a short film to promote the Jack & Jacques initiative for ACCM, he was the first person that came to mind.
AG: Jordan likes me aesthetic and my work in general and thought I would be the perfect candidate for this promotional film. It was my first documentary and I didn’t know how it would end up looking. It ended up being a great collaboration.
SJD: How is Moon Trail associated to AIDS Community Care Montreal?
JC: Moon Trail was produced by ACCM and funded by the Montreal department of Public Health to promote the Jack & Jacques web initiative, which sends testing reminders to men who have sex with men and helps them locate sexual health resources.
SJD: Did you model this film on any video works that you had seen before?
AG: I was inspired by the early work of Gregg Araki, especially his faux documentary Totally Fucked Up. I wanted to have that 90’s videotape feeling that is different from the look of digital video.
JC: We were interested in how a lot of queer film sort of positions the city it’s set in as a character. New York and San Francisco get a lot of this attention, but we figured Montreal offered a distinct and intriguing gay urban lifestyle that would be interesting to see showcased in a short film.
SJD: Alexandre, can you describe your production company AY Films?
AG: AY Films is about home-based and DIY productions, promoting artists from outside Montreal mostly with that particular lo-fi and colourful aesthetic. I started using the AY Films logo as a brand that I stick to whatever talks to me in terms of image and subject.
SJD: Alexandre and Jordan, do you often explore ideas of queerness in your work, whether through writing or video?
AG: I do all the time in every aspect of my work. Most of the time I don’t even realize it but it’s something that’s close to me and inspires me a lot. My next film is about an asexual teenage girl who’s obsessed with a very feminine homosexual boy.
JC: This was my first time working in video aside from a few amateur projects, but I publish an independent magazine for confessional, queer creative writing called Crooked Fagazine. Queerness is really explicitly addressed throughout it, especially in terms of confronting shame and owning certain transgressive queer experiences. This work around confession informed Moon Trail, as I had some background in getting people to share intimate experiences around sex that are not always openly discussed.
SJD: What informed your decision to choose the lo-fi aesthetics in Moon Trail? What do you think it adds to the narrative?
AG: I think it helps entering the reality of the men we interviewed and it give a dreamy touch of what summers look like in Montreal during a heat wave. It also refers to the early 90’s when AIDS was still a “new” thing and people were trying to fight it as much as possible.
JC: I’d recognized a bit of a gap in our ability at ACCM to reach youth, so working through a poppy lo-fi, music video aesthetic, seemed like a good way to reach out to younger audiences and hopefully make regular STI testing seem like something that is cool.
SJD: Did you use Super8 film for Moon Trail or were the aesthetic effects added post-production?
AG: I used a Hi8 handy cam, the same we used to film summer vacations on the beach when we were kids. It’s not film or digital, it’s videotape. Nothing was really changed except some colouring in post-production,
SJD: How did you meet the men in Moon Trail? They all seem really relaxed in front of the camera.
JC: Each interview subject in the film is either a friend of mine or Alex, or both. This certainly contributed to the relaxation that comes across in the film. The subjects’ dialog isn’t completely unlike conversations we’d have normally without cameras around.
SJD: Where has Moon Trail screened before?
JC: Moon Trail premiered at Image+Nation last year and was also screened at the Rendez-Vous du Cinema Quebecois. It was also recently in competition at the In&Out LGBT film festival in Nice, France.
SJD: This is touched upon in the film but, what is unique to Montreal’s queer scene as compared to other cities’?
JC: Well, the first thing that comes to mind for me is the fact that Montreal is a significantly more affordably city than other major cities in Canada. This means young, non-professional queers who are interested in art and alternative lifestyles tend to flock here. The more affordable education means Montreal queers are also often pretty educated and political. The political/linguistic history of Montreal has also created a sort of landscape that is welcome to discussion and debate, as well as full on argument sometimes. In general, I find it’s a pretty safe city though, which nurtures a greater diversity of people feeling comfortable expressing their individuality and queerness. The other really distinct thing is the weather. Seeing as we spend a lot of winter barricaded indoors, this tends to mean that Montreal summers are on fire.