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Victoria Film Festival Interview - "Beyond Gay: The Politics of Pride" director Bob Christie

Beyond Gay: The Politics of Pride at VFF
by Jason Whyte

“Gay people are famous for being fabulous and having lots of fun, and really that was my goal for the audience experience of Beyond Gay. So the film is definitely equal parts entertainment and education. Many people, gay and straight have become cynical about Gay Pride parades, and I hope I can put some of those criticisms to rest and get people to appreciate and celebrate the inclusiveness and diversity of Canada. I hope it’s inspirational for other countriess to see what is possible. We got into some pretty dicey situations in Russia that definitely made me appreciate my home and native land more than ever.” Director Bob Christie on the film “Beyond Gay” which is the Canadian Gala film at this year’s Victoria Film Festival.

Is this your first film at the Victoria Film Festival? Tell me about your festival experience, and if you plan to attend Victoria for the film’s screenings.

This is my first feature and it’s a great honour to be opening the Canadian program in Victoria. I’m very excited about the screening, which is already sold out so I am sure it’s going to be an incredibly fun night. I will be there for sure.

Tell me a little bit about yourself and your background, and what led you to the industry.

I was very involved in theatre in high school and continued to study acting afterwards but eventually decided that working behind the camera seemed like a more reliable career. I studied film at SFU and after graduating I started working in the television commercial industry. I also continued to work on my own projects including music videos, corporate stuff and two years working on a documentary about my father’s crazy family. Then in 2007 I started work on Beyond Gay.

How did this whole project come together?

I pitched the idea of a documentary about Gay Pride to friends who had just opened a production company called Transmission. They were looking to expand from commercials into other parts of the industry and got behind the project right We started shooting a month or so later. Other than a small Canada Council grant, it’s been privately funded through them all the way.

Please tell me about the technical side of the film; your relation to the film’s cinematographer, what the film was shot on and why it was decided to be photographed this way.

We shot on HD, sometimes just with small consumer cameras so as not to draw attention to ourselves. We also tried to shoot with more than one camera as often as we could, so that we could cut together a really dynamic story that felt more like a road movie than a traditional documentary.

Out of the entire production, what was the most difficult aspect of making this film? Also, what was the most pleasurable moment?

The whole experience of making this film has been overwhelmingly rewarding so it is difficult to choose the “best” moment. I think marching in Warsaw’s Equality Parade was the most empowering and exciting of all the events we went to. Sao Paulo was overwhelming in its size, but Warsaw felt very special. In Moscow we were too frightened to appreciate what was happening.

Other than financing it, the most difficult aspect was the editorial process. I had a wonderful editor Steve Schmidt, who really crafted a really visually stunning film, but choosing what to include - how to shape the story, and getting the tone right with the message, proved to be much harder than anticipated. It was also a huge asset to have Aerlyn Weissman come on for that part of the process.

Who would you say your biggest inspirations are in the film world (directors, actors, cinematographers, etc)? Did you have any direct inspirations from filmmakers for this film in particular?

Nettie Wild is awesome and I love her work.

How has the film been received at other festivals or screenings? Do you have any interesting stories about how this film has screened before? What do you think you will expect at the film’s screenings at Victoria?

Audiences are clearly moved after seeing the film. We’ve had a few standing ovations and that’s just so rewarding. So many people say that I’ve changed their attitude towards Pride and that’s what I had hoped for. It gets people excited, and inspired and overall people’s reaction to it has been totally positive.

If you weren’t making movies, what other line or work do you feel you’d be in?

I haven’t thought about doing anything else in such a long time …. I’d probably still be bartending.

How important do you think the critical/media response is to film these days, be it a large production, independent film or festival title?

I think it’s hugely important no matter what.

If your film could play in any movie theatre in the world, which one would you choose?

I would like to see it screen at the United Nations in New York.

If you could offer a nickel’s worth of free advice to someone who wanted to make movies, what nuggets of wisdom would you offer?

Surround yourself with people that you trust and really like a lot.

What do you love the most about film and the filmmaking business?

Making people see the world in a new way.

A question that is easy for some but not for others and always gets a different response: what is your favourite film of all time?

I’m going to say “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.”

This is one of the many films playing at this year’s Victoria Film Festival. For showtimes and further information visit

Be sure to follow instant happenings of the festival and updates on my Twitter @jasonwhyte!

Jason Whyte,

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originally posted: 01/31/10 03:14:57
last updated: 01/31/10 03:16:14
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