Interview by Robbie Reelout
Adam Garnet Jones (Cree/Métis) is a queer filmmaker originally from Edmonton, Alberta. His short films have been broadcast on television and screened widely at film festivals, including ImagineNATIVE. In 2008, Adam received the imagineNATIVE/Canwest Mentorship Award and was the recent recipient of the RBC Emerging Artist Award. Adam and his producing partner and actress Sarah Kolasky will be screening their short film LIAR in our Queer Youth Shorts evening program at 7pm Sunday, February 3rd at The Screening Room (120 Princess Street) in Kingston as well as participants in our Directing Actors & Acting for the Screen youth workshop at the central branch of the Kingston Frontenac Public Library at 1pm on Sunday, February 3rd.
Robbie Reelout: This film struck a chord with me because it seems intent on presenting this short story as fact. Was Liar based upon something you experienced/witnessed in your lifetime?
Adam: The short answer is… no. The film isn’t really based on anything that I have experienced directly. It’s pure fiction, but it draws on my own adolescent paranoia over being outed, and my own guilt and anxieties about the role that passive people can play in violent scenarios. When I was a teenager, a girl named Reena Virk was murdered in my neighborhood by a group of girls she knew. The media portrayed Virk’s death as a tragedy, but also as a kind of fluke. It didn’t seem like a fluke to me at all. The tension that I remember as a teenager, and the threat of physical violence was common. It seemed to me that it was more surprising that things like this didn’t happen more often. All of these memories came back to me when I was writing LIAR. I didn’t fully realize it at the time, but I was writing a film about someone making the choice whether to remain passive or take action.
Robbie Reelout: Each character seems to have some sort of motivation to either stand back and let the harsh events unfold or get involved with these tough issues. Which character do you think was the most important in this story?
Adam: I wrestled with the question of who was most important in the story a lot. I initially wrote the film (and ultimately shot it) with the intention that it would be a truly ensemble film, with all of the characters given the same weight onscreen. I wanted the audience to be able to place themselves in any of the characters’ shoes at any moment. When it came time to edit the film, people who watched early cuts found that without one character to focus on, they had a hard time identifying with any of the characters onscreen. The multil-character short film was a good exercise, but in reality it didn’t work out as well. We ultimately solved the problem by choosing to focus the film more on Tara’s story. Her decision to stand up to her sister and her friend (if only for a moment) seemed to speak the loudest, and involve the most emotional complexity. I considered making the film more focused on Brian, but his passivity in the end made hm more difficult to identify with. I also liked the idea of making a film about a gay bashing that wasn’t a gay bashing, that didn’t entirely side with the victim.
Robbie Reelout: Which scene/character/line best expresses what you hope to project onto audiences seeing this film?
Adam: Lying to girls fucks them up? Ha, ha. I have no idea. Probably the very end of the film, because you have the sense that even though this young girl has chosen to act in this specific moment, she has a million tough choices ahead of her, and the people in her life aren’t going to make it any easier.
Robbie Reelout: Who is the biggest liar in your film?
Adam: Stories are a series of lies that take some kind of satisfying shape, and I’m the writer so… me? I’m the liar.