Speaker 0 00:00:00 As you join us for another episode, we'd really appreciate it. If you could subscribe, leave us a rating and a review. It helps our podcast get a little bit more visibility. Welcome to season three of to be Continued troubling the Archive. In today's episode, Adrian Ralph Smith and Heman Lung and I are in conversation to consider the role of film and photography and visual productions. What are the challenges of working within spaces that do not begin with centering racialized lives? How important it is that stories get to be told from a place of lived experiences and the technical realm of racial biases that influence how racialized communities experience being in front of the screen.
Speaker 2 00:00:46 Okay, we're ready to rock and roll. Um, although I don't prefer rock and roll as a music genre to begin with, but <laugh>,
Speaker 2 00:00:53 Um, hi everyone. Welcome to today's episode of TV Continued Troubling the Archive. My name is Anna Sha Hawk Preferred pronoun pronounce Sheen. They, and I am super stoked to have with us today, hinging and Adrian to come talk about their rad art practice, all about film and storytelling, uh, through the visual. Um, we're joined by my friend and colleague Finn son, who does all of the technical Wonder Kin stuff that makes this podcast series possible. Um, our episode today really considers, uh, the work of visual productions and, um, partially also thinking through about the relationship between archives, storytelling and community and what each of the artists today, um, what their projects do for those particular spaces. I'm gonna ask each of them to introduce themselves and then we're, we're gonna kind of get the ball rolling from there. Um, Adrian, do you wanna go first?
Speaker 4 00:01:48 Sure can do. Um, my name is Adrian, uh, Ralph Smith. I use she and her. I am a visual artist, uh, primarily focusing in photography and video videography in the Ottawa region, although I do do some work in Toronto. Um, though not as much given the current panini situation. And, um, I don't like walking, but I do like long walks on the beach <laugh>. Um, my color palette is usually very limited, and I'm an airy sun son.
Speaker 3 00:02:30 <laugh>,
Speaker 2 00:02:31 Hey, I have that in common
Speaker 3 00:02:33 <laugh>, only bit of astrology. I do know <laugh>, um, hangman.
Speaker 5 00:02:42 Wow. How do I follow up after that Fantastic introduction. I'm like totally lost. Who am I? Um, I'm Hangman Lung. I use she her pronouns. I, um, and, uh, yeah, where do I even start? I am an immigrant settler in, uh, Ottawa. Um, and I've lived here for <laugh> about 10 years now. So, so I've, uh, it's, it's home I guess. And, uh, I consider myself a filmmaker, a storyteller, a problem solver. Um, and, and I like telling stories, um, about the world that helps me see the world in a different way and helps other people see in the world, see the world in a different way as well. Um, and I love comedy. I don't get the opportunity to, to make a lot of comedy, but that's, uh, that's one of my dreams is to tell more stories and reach more people through laughter and through, um, the spaces where, um, it's kind of surprising. And, uh, my favorite vegetable right now is, um, sugar, snap peas, <laugh>, uh, and also, um, pea shoots, which are like the leaves that come out of the sugar snap pea, but you can eat them. Um, it's, it's a, a East Asian food. Um, you just boil it in water and eat it with a bit of salt.
Speaker 3 00:04:23 Nice. I just learned something new today. Um, also, I am fascinated, uh, by the, your favorite vegetable right now, because that implies there's a rolling roster, <laugh> <laugh> of vegetables that will make an appearance as the gemstone of your week, month, or year.
Speaker 5 00:04:40 <laugh>. Absolutely
Speaker 3 00:04:42 <laugh>. Um, amazing. I, uh, you know, I, I I think I'm like, um, you were like, uh, I guess I, I guess I ottawa's home like there is <laugh> <laugh>. I'm like, I wanna start there. <laugh>. Tell me, tell me about the, I guess, bit to the Ottawa home bit.
Speaker 5 00:05:02 Um, this is, I, I struggle with Ottawa a lot. Um, I used to live in Toronto before this, and I, I frequent, um, Montreal, and I was born in Hong Kong. Um, and, and living in Ottawa has been a journey for me of just understanding what kind of a place this is, um, and what kind of pockets exist in it. Um, I remember very distinctly, um, just realizing that I have to really put in the effort to find the people that I, that, that I feel comfortable with. Um, and, and those pockets are really, really challenging to find, especially if, um, you kind of, you know, don't fit into the mainstream in a lot of ways. Um, so I, I do have a love-hate relationship with Ottawa, not for the, the obvious reasons. A lot of people think Ottawa's boring. Um, I don't think Ottawa's boring at all. I think Ottawa's Rad, um, but because of the people that I've had the opportunity to meet, uh, and play with, so, um, yeah, like Adrian, exactly, <laugh>, um,
Speaker 4 00:06:19 It's, it's
Speaker 5 00:06:19 Me, but it's, it's so, it's so, it, it fluctuates though. There are a lot of things that I, I don't like about Ottawa, but there are a lot of things that I like about Ottawa. And what I like about Ottawa is the people that I've been fortunate to meet. Neat.
Speaker 2 00:06:35 It's like the legacy friendships. Like, I find, like Ottawa as a, like an actual physical space can take so much from you, but then it's everyone that, you know, that like becomes like sort of your network of life that makes Ottawa become a ma like a, I mean, magical might be too far <laugh>, but it definitely makes it a more meaningful space and it's really so community driven, um, <laugh>. Um, but I, I hear you on, on the, on the sort of challenge. I, I think about it as like the running away, like where I run away to Montreal for pockets of time because it feels like I'm less of an alien. Um, and it feels like even when I don't know a single person, which would be, most of the time I didn't know anyone in Montreal or in Toronto, but it felt much more like warm than trying to make sense of, of Ottawa when you're, when you've got no connections in place or no friendships and relationships in place. Um, Adrian, what about you?
Speaker 4 00:07:43 Um, it's kind of, it's, it's hard for me because I grew up in like the West end. Um, so I was raised in like stittsville Canata region, um, so I was like adopted into a predominantly white family. Um, and so we were raised in the relatively affluent suburbs and stuff, so, um, it was tough, uh, growing up, I guess in, you know, the rural areas. And then eventually we were amalgamated into Ottawa. Um, but it was tough, like not, I guess, having people that looked like me be commonplace, um, and very much standing out that way. So then when I was, I guess like nine, 18 or 19, and I went to university, um, Carleton University, um, in 2012, um, meeting people and like realizing that like, whoa, not everyone is like white. Like, that's so crazy. Like, I, I didn't, I like, it's just like, even that like has been like such <laugh> like a fascinating concept.
Speaker 4 00:08:52 Um, and so I've moved more into Ottawa proper, I would say. And obviously like that has changed a lot of, like, my interactions with people and my perspectives on things. And also, um, I think I don't have like a lot of the white parent halo protections anymore. So a lot of folks kind of just view me as I am and not an extension of like, um, some white folks. Much love to them though. But, uh, yeah, I think it's, it, Ottawa is a tough city because it's, it's very interesting from like a, an artist base because you always are very fortunate to like maybe get the opportunity to work with all these different artists, collectives and, you know, on, on various levels of maybe disenfranchisement or, or disparity. But there is, like, it's interesting cuz Ottawa isn't like a cohesive artist city. Um, cuz they, they're all, all these like, small pockets and amalgamations, um, but they don't necessarily always talk to each other.
Speaker 4 00:09:58 Whereas I find that working in Toronto or Montreal or like larger cities that are more established for art practices, um, they kind of have like, you know, oh, I know so and so I worked with them like that. And like, there's like this kind of more like, I not like, I wouldn't say camaraderie because they're, they're bigger and they have like more work to be there. Um, so there's less competition that way. But I, yeah, I just, I just find Ottawa is like very unique that way. Um, much to its detriment sometimes because you get folks that are kind of like big fish in a very small pond and then they go to a larger city and they, they realize that it's pretty in insignificant. And I think that really plays into that like, mindset, right? Where people are like, I hate Ottawa, I don't wanna be here.
Speaker 4 00:10:53 And I felt that way too. Um, and so I tried to move to Toronto and then apparently it took a whole pandemic to like detract my plans. But, um, just realizing that like, there is like a culture here and there is like a cohesiveness and it really takes like, I think leaving and experiencing all these different art culture scenes, um, or even just, you know, like different city cultures in general for you to kind of like really unpack and like really tease out the details of like, even though Ottawa sucks sometimes, um, I'm only saying that because we just had an election and the person that I voted for did not win. So, um, yeah, like, I, I just think there's like, there's a deeper appreciation and like trying to, I think hangman and I work really well and we're trying to like tease out those kinds of details as well. Um, and we're trying to like tease out like what makes Ottawa unique, like how can we like, make this like collaborative like energy that we have. Like how can we like, share that with other folks in a way that is like, speaks to the uniqueness of Ottawa. Like what, what is the advantage here? Um mm-hmm. <affirmative> to this, to this art scene and like just city at large that, you know, puts it on the map in comparison besides us being the hotbed for Hallmark movies. What else? <laugh>,
Speaker 2 00:12:19 I think like, you're raising such important and interesting points, like, um, and it's almost, it's, it's a clear double-edged sword, right? On one hand you have a smaller sort of, uh, city landscape with artists, sort of artists and artistic institutions that are very fragmented. You have major multi multimillion dollar institutions that are there, but then they're not ne necessarily the places that are so readily accessible. There are artists, run centers that are doing really amazing things, but then also collaboration. Uh, there's, there, there are tensions and difficulties in like, there's no one sort of collective coalition that makes migrating or moving around those spaces that much easier. Um, but then to think about it in scale that it feels like other cities that are bigger. Um, and you, you pointed out rightfully that there's so much more in numbers that it also feels like the sense of comradery is more visible.
Speaker 2 00:13:16 So like, I wonder what it means to take a look at like, the Montreal or Toronto scene where especially I find like in Montreal you can, you can cultivate an art practice mm-hmm. <affirmative> in a way that like, feels a lot less like battling upstream all the time. And if in Ottawa, unless you've got, you know, one or two sort of moments of people collaborations that then invite you into a particular space, it's state. You won't know that it's there or you're, you're not able to enter. Like, there, there are those moments that are just like, so difficult, but then it then leads to the other pathway of like, you find others, uh, who are of like-minded, uh, worlds and who are like, let's just build this world here, uh, because it's, it's not feeding us the way we need to be fed. Um, and I think like, that makes me wonder like how did you and hinging cross paths, like what's the backstory? What's the origin story to, you know, before we get to what you're doing now, <laugh>
Speaker 4 00:14:16 <laugh>, it's a whole lot of nothing and tune right now. No, I'm kidding. Um, it's a dark stormy night, <laugh>. Oh my God, I hope not. I'm like, I'm a little bit scared here, it's like a ghost town. Um, but yeah, like, I mean, I think like hang, so it's interesting cuz like I, I feel like for Haman and I like origin story, it kind of like relies heavily on like our own in respective like art practices and like how we developed it. Um, cuz it's, it's kind of like a longer story because I think, I mean I could tell it shortly, but it's not as fun. It's not as entertaining <laugh>. So picture it, Ottawa, what was it, 20, 20? 20?
Speaker 5 00:15:03 Yeah, 2020. Like, you know, the pandemic has already started and we're like deep in the first year of isolation and figuring that out. I think I remember some phone calls in this room that I'm in currently, just like in on the floor <laugh>
Speaker 4 00:15:25 With paprika in the monopod?
Speaker 5 00:15:27 Yes.
Speaker 4 00:15:29 Yes. Okay. Yeah. So anyway, peak, I'll just get to it. Um, uh, peak pandemic, um, uh, like an acquaintance of ours was asking us both to work on this project with another artist's friend. Um, and so she was basically saying like, we all meet and talk and like see what's going on. Cuz I think we all have like, very aligned values and goals. Um, and so we all met up, and I can't remember if it was the first meeting or not, but I was drinking a lot of water at the time, so I had like this giant red gallon of water with me. And so I was sitting on this zoom call just drinking water, um, out of this gall as one does, like, I don't, I don't understand why it's such an issue. <laugh> was just asking me like, is that like a gallon, like a liter kind of container?
Speaker 4 00:16:22 And I was like, yes, I have to stay hydrated was like, I love that. Where did you get it? Anyway, so it was like a, and the other person, Mylene, she was not like necessarily thrilled that we were getting sidetracked over this gallon thing. Um, but that's kind of like, Heman was like, I like your style. And so after that, obviously we started, um, initially a business, um, together with, uh, Mylene. And then, you know, it was relatively successful. I mean, we released a documentary and stuff, um, but Hing and I found out that at the time, hinging and I lived like a street apart. Um, so we would heavily encourage our business meetings to happen in my backyard. So, and then like Mylene would come and then we'd all hang out, do our business meeting, go get pizza or ice cream for merry dairy and then, uh, Mylene would go home and then hang in and I would just like hang out in the backyard and like just, you know, be friends, be like business partners and friends. And so that's kind of something that happened like over time and, and very, very much like is still like how we do things. Although I do not live in the same area anymore, much to my sadness. Um, but yeah, like that's kind of like how that started was really over, um, you know, creating this amalgamated artist collective and over a gallon of water and being hydrated. Like I don't know what, what other bases you could build a friendship fund, but,
Speaker 2 00:17:56 But those, I mean, hydration is important. You gotta get your like, hydration and moisture game has to be super high. So like of course. Exactly.
Speaker 5 00:18:04 <laugh>. Yeah, it's very important. I, I mean I would add to that cuz they're like, through the course of, of these, these, um, I I call them unstructured hangouts, um, cuz once the business part is over, we, we would just, we would talk about anything and everything. Um, and through that we got to know each other, um, better. And we bonded on a lot of, a lot of things like, you know, how we see the world, um, where we intersected in, in terms of, um, in terms of opinions, but also also pushing each other too, to think about things in a different way. Um, I always appreciated those chats. Um, and we also ended up like planting stuff in, in Adrian's backyard. True. That was a lot of fun. Um, talking about sustainability, talking about like the environment, um, just a lot of, uh, it's exactly as Adrian put it, um, a lot of shared values, a lot of, um, growth together and, and just talking about what kind of world, um, and art practice do we want to see, do we want to promote, do we want to, uh, support and be a part of.
Speaker 5 00:19:16 Um, and, and you know, it's not like starting a, any relationship is never, it's, it's never always roses. Like it's, it's through I think, exploration, um, of where the boundaries are and where you're willing to kind of try something new. Um, and where, where the lines are in terms of where, where it's friendship and where it's work and where it's, um, art and how all those interact with each other. I think that's what creates this bond and this, um, space to kind of do what we do and, um, individually and together.
Speaker 2 00:20:01 Yeah. And you both geek out over film. Uh, so I, I wanna hear more about like how, um, I know Haman on, on some of your sort of press materials, you talk about self-taught filmmaking. Um, I'd love to know a bit more about like what started that journey with your relationship with film.
Speaker 5 00:20:21 Hmm. Well this is also, there's also a long version and a short version <laugh> Time.
Speaker 2 00:20:26 Give us the long version <laugh>.
Speaker 5 00:20:29 Um, yeah, I, I, I love watching movies. I love watching tv. Um, I always have my family, like even now my parents, like if I call my parents, they're in Toronto, they're like, can you call back later? We're watching our show. <laugh> <laugh>. So that's the kind of family I come from. Um, and I always wanted to, um, cuz I've realized through the ages that the way that I like to, um, enjoy something is I like to take it apart and like to understand how it works. Um, and so I've always, because I love film so much, I've always wanted to try my hand on making film. Um, so when I was a lot younger, so this is like high school, um, I was in music school, I was in the string quartet. I was like classically trained pianist, um, no big deal. And so no, no big deal, no <laugh>.
Speaker 5 00:21:29 It was, it was fun. It was good times. Um, and I loved, I, I just, I love music, so that's always been a part of my life. And then, um, and then in university I did film photography as a hobby cuz there was a club at my school. Um, and then, and film is kind of a natural progression from combining music with, um, with image. So, um, I was doing, uh, you know, I I never really made a film, but I always, like, I babysat my cousins a lot and they're all like younger than me. There's like a whole bunch of them. And I would basically make them act out scenes for my favorite movies. <laugh>
Speaker 3 00:22:16 Amazing
Speaker 5 00:22:18 <laugh> and, uh, <laugh>. I think that's, uh, you know, my parents and, and my aunts and uncles would all joke that I'm like, bossy pants and whatever. And I'm like, well now that I'm an adult, I'm like, no, I'm just a director. Okay. <laugh>,
Speaker 3 00:22:37 That's
Speaker 5 00:22:37 What a director does. Uh, or producer, you know, I trained, I trained in that way. I guess like in living experience, I don't know. Um,
Speaker 3 00:22:49 Life prepared you for this role. <laugh>.
Speaker 5 00:22:53 Yes, exactly. Yeah. Childcare and entertaining children. Um, also camp, like being a camp counselor, it's a lot of, uh, it's a lot of, um, a lot of play that's based in, um, like improv or acting or like, you know, just imagination. Um, so a lot of that stuff I think, um, feeds into kind of this, this desire to tell stories and to work with people to tell stories. Um, I also love working with, um, actors who haven't acted before, because I think that comes from a wish to see more people that we don't normally see on the screens. Um, and, and play in that way. I think about filmmaking and play, um, a lot. And that's what it feels like whenever Adrian and I work together. It always feels like play. Um, and that's, that's what I wanna keep tapping into is this sense of, um, discovery, this sense of like taking an idea apart, figuring out how to do it, um, and then doing it. So yeah, what motivates me is, is, is that, is figuring out how to tell a story in a way and bringing people together, um, and having fun.
Speaker 2 00:24:27 It begins to like shed light on. Like what brings you to your current practice, you know? Um, what I'm hearing is like, you know, creating stories or making space for stories that also give people an opportunity to see representations of themselves on screen. To be al also, to be able to hear and learn stories that are not necessarily the ones that we hear right off the bat. They're not the ones that are the most readily accessible. And I think there's something about, even as you're talking about like, you know, um, Hong Kong, you're talking about Toronto, you're talking about, you know, diasporic memories and stories also that as, as a filmmaker, I imagine that it's quite difficult to also keep yourself out of that. Like, you want to create the stories you want to hear and you want to see. Um, and that comes very clearly. That comes very cl like clearly and crisply from what you're sharing. <affirmative> Adrian. Yes. What about you? What's your photo? I know you as a photographer first. Uh, that's how we cross paths, um, you know, and now lo and behold filmmaking and videography. So take us through the journey of getting to photography before we get to film <laugh>.
Speaker 4 00:25:40 My, my story isn't as like, it's kind of like not as epic. Like, it's not like a pre, it's not like a predestined like, kinda story. It's just kind of like as it happens. Cause I went to, I went to university, um, for philosophy. So I am technically, uh, post-secondary certified philosopher with a specialization in public affairs and ethics. Cuz I wanted to like basically change, I, I said this like when I was 14 years old, that I would rule the world and I had a whole plan. It involved Burger King and there was some like, trade deals. Like, there was like some mass global economics and it was like very advanced for a 14 year old, but here we are. That did not happen. There were some missteps along the way. So anyway, I, I took that program to try and figure out like where, you know, I could fit in in the world and like kind of, you know, tease out some stuff cuz I didn't have, um, growing up in like a rural suburb where I not like very few people look like me.
Speaker 4 00:26:48 Obviously there was like some very intense and discomforting experiences. Um, and so trying to like empathize and like comprehend why people do what they do, um, that's the route I took. And so since high school I was like photographing, um, bands like a friend of mine got me into it just saying like, you know, my band's playing at this battle of the bands, can you come through? And I was like, sure. Cause I was the only one who had a camera, so I did it. And then throughout university, um, I just started working with like Sean Ska from Spectrasonics. So much loved to Sean, who like, liked me enough to let me in and come shoot some shows for him and, you know, other bands. Um, and so it became like a side hustle throughout university and I enjoyed it more than writing and learning about all these different terrible experiences and like ethical d dilemmas and stuff like that.
Speaker 4 00:27:46 Um, so when I finished my degree, I thought about doing a master's, but I decided to go to Algon Kong College and learn how to like actually become a photographer. Um, and part of, part of the coursework was at the time was like learning how to use, um, multimedia, so like Adobe Premiere and like after effects and stuff. So I got super into motion graphic work for a little bit. Um, and I just found, you know, like I, I found a deep appreciation for like, intention with in film and like noticing that like, there was a lot of similarities between how I approached philosophy and ethics with, um, some of the, like, you know, listening to people talk about their films and their experiences. Um, I had no intention of like, going anywhere with film because I was like, that's way too much work. Like, you, like, if you mess up on film, it's really hard to fix. Whereas a photo you could just Photoshop it, like that's like, you know, different minds. And I was like, not about it. Um, but somehow people were like more willing to throw money at me, um, to do commercial film than they were to do commercial photography.
Speaker 4 00:29:00 So I just like decided, I was like, I could do this. Like I've learned how to do this. And so somehow it's kind of like transpired into something that I'm like good at. I would not say that I'm great at, like, if anything, if folks are gonna hire me, I really spend a lot more time and intention behind lighting things. Um, because that's kind of my area of expertise due to photography is I, I have like a really interesting understanding of how light works. And so I know how to light photography sets and it's kind of the same thing for film, it's just kind of more continuous. And so I tried to really transpose that, um, in the film work and, you know, I, I find that film can be really, um, inaccessible to a certain point. Like, you know, we have like people that get paid to critique these films and use, and I think that's like with any art practices that there's always like people who go to school to learn how to critique it and use these large languages.
Speaker 4 00:30:01 And I found that with academics too, with philosophy is that we're using like $5 words to talk to people who maybe only can join the conversation with $2 words and are like frowning upon that. And so I just really didn't agree with that kind of ethos. And so I was like, if, if people who use $5 words can do it, then I can definitely do it with $2 words kind of approach. And so that's kind of, you know, how how I go about like, and how I kind of, I I really just stumbled into it and it was just like really, like a means to an end. It wasn't something that I was even wanting to do to be honest. It just like, it seemed like I was okay at it and I could make money from it. So I wanted to do it.
Speaker 2 00:30:47 <laugh> I mean, as you're talking about light it for me, I'm like thinking about like just the broader sort of history of like imaging and black and brown folks on film and, and photography and how oftentimes light is the culprit light is the absence or the the overabundance of light, um, that doesn't really show black and brown joy and its most amazingness. And you know, I I wonder if you can speak to that a little bit. Like just thinking about light and its relationship to what communities you are also invested in in imaging.
Speaker 4 00:31:24 Yeah, like, I mean, and Haman and I talk about this all the time too, so Haman can for sure speak on this too, cuz I think that's like one of the larger conversations that we've had with our projects is like, um, lighting people in particular, like if we actually take like the physical form of that is lighting people in particular that look like us. Um, it's not that it's harder, it's that the math that you kind of get taught is, is inherently like racist to a certain extent. Like mm-hmm <affirmative>, the math that I was taught in school was not is math that was not made for people that have more melanin or darker complexions, however you wanna describe it. Like the, it's not meant for people who look like us, um, and have that experience. Um, it's really kind of used to portray us even like in a more contemporary, like artistic ways, like as villains and like, we're like mm-hmm <affirmative> the fear of the unknown.
Speaker 4 00:32:23 So even, even the actual physical form of lighting, um, the science behind it and like kind of the exposure methodology in and of itself is, is on built on a racist system and like film photography as well, like using film in cameras and stuff is like not meant, uh, for darker skin. And so we really like tried to unpack that. And I think in a larger discussion, like Moonlight was one of the first actual physical examples for people that were not just black and brown bodies to really understand that like, wow, like black and brown bodies like really get, like the shit end of the stick. A lot of times in films like I, I've, I've worked with some photographers like that are lovely and they hire people who don't know how to do makeup, uh, for black and brown people. And it's like very sadly cakey.
Speaker 4 00:33:25 It's very gray washed and it's not flattering and it makes us look like dolls sometimes not real, like it's very plastic looking. Um, but then I can see what the makeup artist can do on someone who is white and it looks flawless. It looks natural sometimes. Like it's, it's, it's very interesting how those kinds of biases, um, entrench themselves. And so with film Heman and I like have made a point, um, with a lot of our work to really like focus and really work hard on showing, um, the diversities of an pay homage to the communities in which we come from, um, because we might not be the best ones doing it. Um, but we are also the ones that are, we're, we're trying our best to make it more of an avenue, at least in Ottawa, um, to be at the forefront and be able to provide these opportunities and like platforms for people.
Speaker 4 00:34:25 And I'm not saying there aren't other people that do that as well. Like our, our former partner Mylene does that really, really well as well, um, with Killam Media and her work. So like, there's, there's tons of people out there that are doing the exact same things. Um, we, it just like really in our experience comes down to like, we have, we have like a massive network of people that rely on us, um, or that we've met in passing from various experiences that like, just like refer to us based on that experience. Um, so I guess returning to your original question, because that was a bit of a tangent, is that, um, it's, it's really like when it comes to like lighting, um, and like thinking about it, it's really like something that like, uh, if if it's not something I would do for myself, like if I don't look good in it, I don't like, it's something we change.
Speaker 4 00:35:19 Like if I'm not, if if neither of us look good, um, then we don't, we don't do it. And we try to really emphasize that. Like if people feel like if, and we ask people to own their agency with us and if they're like, what do you think? Like, we have monitors on set and ask people their opinion of what they look like and if they're like, I don't look good, then we change it. We ask what they don't like and we try to engage them in the process because I like, even though it might cause me to be like 10 minutes behind or us delayed, I'd rather make sure that like everybody who's involved looks good, um, and feels confident about what they're participating in, then someone not saying anything at all. And that's like a very isolated kind of blessing to get because a lot of times folks are just told to shut up and like, deal with it cuz this is what the client wants and we are like, the client doesn't always, like, we, we, you know, also like go out of our way to explain and educate to our clients or like participants like the whole process so that they have this informed consent about everything we do, um, even though we don't have any commercial clients anymore.
Speaker 4 00:36:29 But that's kind of how we approached them when we have them. So yeah. Did that answer your question? I can't remember.
Speaker 2 00:36:37 Yeah, no, it does. And I'm also loving like what you're talking about, like the relationality between, you know, you the photographer or the filmmaker in conversation with the people who are part of the project and because a lot of times the talent themselves are not necessarily part of the conversation. Decisions happen, creative direction happens all, and it's, it's almost like siloed away from the very people who are needed in order for that visual to actually take like actually happen, like actually exist. Um, so to, to think then about like the responsibility that you're, you're taking on, but also the relational accountability that you're embedding into your, both your creative and like more ethical sort of approach to that, to that universe, um, is something that is really important I think, uh, isn't necessarily talked about very op Oh, like openly or thoroughly, like the expectation for talent and production are kept kind of a separate sort of separate realms.
Speaker 4 00:37:37 Yeah, and I, and I definitely don't, I mean, I don't live my life that way, like, you know, like as, as, as a freelancer, I work for myself. Um, I can't, like my work, my work is with me right now in the hotel room. Like, I, I always like my emails come in through my phone because I need, you know, like if I'm going somewhere I need, like I'm on call 24 7. My, my life is not always separate from my work. Um, and to a certain extent, like I sell myself, um, and I, I sell things to people, right? Like it, I'm selling a skillset, um, which is like a weird, it's an interesting way of like an unpacking like historical precedences, right? Because not that long ago I would be just, you know, doing this shit for free, like mm-hmm. <affirmative> because otherwise I would be killed.
Speaker 4 00:38:29 Like, it's, it's an interesting kind of like navigational historical context to be like, now I actually have to put effort into like making people believe that I'm worthy, that they're worthy of buying my body and my skills. Like that's like a really weird thing, um, yeah. To be in a position of doing. Um, but yeah, it's like if, if I have those conversations of agency, for me it doesn't make sense that like the people that I am photographing or hiring me for that skillset would not also have like a reciprocity of relationship to, to their image and to like, to the final product. Like I feel, I feel like it's very, a lot of like film sets or photo sets, like, there's always like a hierarchy on mine. I I try to run it very laterally, like, hinging man has assisted me on, on photo sets, um, and I've assisted her or you know, she's been the DP or the director.
Speaker 4 00:39:32 Um, and so it's like we have a lateral relationship where we actually listen to each other, um, and we also listen to our talent and we actually invite them to partake in this process. Cuz it is like a, for some people it's like a once in a lifetime experience, dad, like, be able to like, make money from art. Like, that's not everyone's lived experience, particularly not in Ottawa where people like art, but they don't necessarily wanna pay for art. Like, it's that kind of mentality of a city. And so when people engage with us on that level, we want it to be a positive experience. We want to bring, as Hayman said, we like to play, we like to bring joy. Um, and so if it's not joyful for us, we like, it's not hard to tell that it's not joyful experience and it just sucks. Um, so I think it's really important that if we're cultivating this more collaborative kind of community based stuff, people have to understand what's going on or else you just kind of sound like you're running a cult. Like it's weird
Speaker 5 00:40:36 <laugh>.
Speaker 4 00:40:38 Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Speaker 5 00:40:39 Yeah. There's, there's one point that I want to, um, kind of reflect on that Adrian brought up for me is that we have a lot of conversations about gays, um, like, like when we're not, not like, like not like gay people, plural gays, but like, not back gays. You're looking not <laugh> the act of looking and the act of, um, capturing, uh, an image or moving image. Um, what, where your eyes go, um, when you're looking at an image and, and we talk about this because of the, the importance that, you know, we can't take any of the people in the room out of the room. So in a lot of like mainstream, I think film sets, um, I think Adrian mentioned the hierarchy, right? There are people who don't have a voice. And I think that is a detriment to the film set when not when people don't have a voice, um, on any project.
Speaker 5 00:41:50 So I think, I think a lot of people when they work with us, um, what is interesting is that sometimes it might be the first time that they have a voice, um, on a project like this, on a film set. And, and sometimes it's also like having the opportunity to question, you know, why are we doing it like this? Um, and having that conversation around, you know, how do I wanna look? Um, it opens up the space in a way that I think is even more powerful than the product itself. It's, it's that process of creating something together that I think, um, for me at least, I take a lot away from it and I learn a lot from everyone I work with because we're having these conversations, um, while we're creating. And at the end of the day, the product is going to show and reflect that we've thought through these ideas and we've thought through why we want things to look a certain way because, um, be because there's a reason for it. There's a reason we want to, um, show something different.
Speaker 2 00:43:15 Do either of you, I know you got your individual practices and you clearly assisted each other on, um, your projects. Are there sort of plans in the making of shared projects or what is the, there's a future collaborative imaginings for the two of you look like
Speaker 5 00:43:35 World domination. <laugh> Yeah.
Speaker 2 00:43:37 <laugh>
Speaker 5 00:43:38 Back on track. Adrian <laugh>
Speaker 4 00:43:40 Back on track. You know, I was just kidding about the cult thing. It was like, it was a, it was a diversion cuz I don't wanna reveal my whole plans for us yet. No, but um, I mean it depend like <laugh> Haman has like a real job. Um, so it's like really de like, and this is not like it makes sense, right? Like I wish I was, had been smart enough to think about like the repercussions of taking an arts degree to a certain extent because I can't write that well. Um, so working for the government is not necessarily the best option because I can't write very well. Um, but you know, like there are other options, but you know, it, it's really reflexive of like haman's availability, um, to a certain extent, which is super fair. And it's not disparaging, I hope <inaudible> at all to say this, right?
Speaker 4 00:44:38 Like it's, it, it's being kind and being compassionate because it is very tough to work like a full-time job and then go do and like get psyched up to go do some art things that are also hard, right? And so it, it doesn't happen in a vacuum. It, it, it takes a lot of emotional labor. Um, and we really realize that when we did a documentary in like, what six months? That that is not something feasible at all. And it's not like healthy. Um, and I think that's like the, the large portion of our art practice is like being intentional, being informative, having fun, and also like being kind to our bodies, um, so that we can keep doing this. And so it, it, it's like it ha it will happen. And we have like a couple of projects that we've filmed this year that are going to come out.
Speaker 4 00:45:35 Um, we did a short film together, which was super fun and super gay. Um, so that was great for us. And then, you know, we filmed a more like fine art piece and the artists in that was like super awesome and they did some really cool stuff. So I can't wait to see the final product for that either. But we did less, we did less this year and it was really based around the intention of like, it is, it means more to us that we will continue to do this for long term mm-hmm. <affirmative> rather than like short term and like hate each other in like two years because we'd rather continue to have fun over long periods of time, which allows me to like kind of have this freedom to like be this like fancy artist and be a giant child all the time and get to like, make my own schedule and text hinging men at weird hours about ideas and hing man being like, you texted that at 5:00 AM I was sleeping.
Speaker 4 00:46:35 Like, what is wrong with you? You know? And also like where I would never say that, you know, and me asking like middle of the day asking Hyman, do you wanna go get donuts and hyman's? Like, I'm working. And I'm like, what do you mean I'm working too <laugh> I walk and work. What do you mean? Um, but you know, it allows me to like do those things and Heman thinks it's fun for now. Um, but it also, it helps revitalize, I think our practice, um, jointly because we also, um, a lot of times when I'm like working on other things, um, hangman is like my main soundboard for like concepts because, you know, I love everyone that like, I like my friends and stuff, but not most of them work in like community health, um, or like really busy cuz they're running their own practices and they don't necessarily have time to be the soundboards for like large projects that way.
Speaker 4 00:47:36 And so using H England for that purpose, because Heman loves to hear about our fancy art projects because yes, I love it. He's doing other work. So it's great. It's the best of both worlds. Some of you gets it, but it is not also fully immersed. It's awesome. Um, so it's a relationship that, you know, works out very selfishly for me in a, in the best way because even if we get more collaborative projects, usually I get to take it odd and Heman gets to come for the ride and I usually get to like structure it in a way that works for both of us. So yeah. Hmm.
Speaker 5 00:48:12 It's, it's been a, it's personally it's been a journey of discovery for me in terms of like, what, what works for me, what I want to do in this, in this world. And, and I'm grateful that that Adrian has been, um, graceful and patient, um, in helping me explore this because it's, um, this is, this is a relationship where, where we kind of like we're we do things together, but we do things separately. Um, and that has been really beneficial, um, to me in, in terms of like learning, in terms of having the space to understand what it is I want to do in a way that is not going to burn me out because I've burnt out, you know, a number of times in the past few years. Um, and, um, I think, I think going back a little bit in my, in my, you know, origin story, um, I've always kind of worked in the policy space, um, ever since graduating from, uh, undergrad, like, I don't know, 15 years ago.
Speaker 5 00:49:24 I don't, I don't, I can't count, but like, it was like 2008 when I graduated. Um, and so I've always worked in the policy space, but I enjoy doing policy work because to me it's a form of storytelling. It's taking evidence from, from science and telling the story of how this evidence can help us make better decisions. Um, and so, so I've kept doing that, but around I would say, hmm, two or three years ago, I started feeling like, you know, I'd really like to not live two lives because it sucks. Um, I think, you know, Adrian described it really well. You do, you, you live one life and then you have to psych yourself up to live your other life. And even though it's fun, it's still work. Um, so I started thinking about, you know, how do I transition, um, more into merging my two lives.
Speaker 5 00:50:26 Um, and around that time, that's when I met Adrian. Um, and Adrian has seen me kind of like, like, you know, play around with different models. Um, you've seen me burn out <laugh>, we've had a few talks <laugh>. Um, yeah, very helpful probing questions around, you know, what is healthy, what is not healthy? Um, and a year ago I applied for a job, um, that has to do with looking at racism, um, in, in, in the health field. Um, and I decided to go for it because I think, um, even though it was kind of a departure for me because I had only kind of volunteered, uh, or done anti-racism stuff, uh, on a voluntary basis was like, it, it felt closer to what I wanted to do in filmmaking anyways. Um, and so that helped me kind of pivot to a space where it was more aligned with my personal goals and personal values, um, and what I wanted to do in filmmaking also.
Speaker 5 00:51:44 Um, but the downside is it's the kind of jog that really takes up a lot of emotional, um, energy <laugh> talking about racism and white supremacy every day, um, and working in a space where you constantly have to be like, wait a second, what's happening here? Um, and, and constantly just being vigilant, um, and being exposed to a lot of, a lot of stuff. Um, and, and that's when, that's when I think, you know, we had to have the conversation around what we do together because I didn't feel like I could bring enough of my capacity or brain juice or energy, whatever to this partnership. Um, and, and what does that mean for us? And I'm really grateful that Adrian, um, put the suggestion forward that, you know, it's not about, it's not about producing more and more and more. It's about having fun together on a longer, more sustainable term.
Speaker 5 00:52:53 And how do we get there? How do we, how do we do that? It's, um, it's, I think we have a good model now of, you know, setting some clear boundaries around, around how much time, you know, we have to treat ourselves like human beings. We're not machines. Um, and honoring all parts of our lives, like not working on the weekend, for example. I mean, a simple idea that I never seemed to understand. Um, and it's, it's been, it's been a conversation and the conversation evolves and I think, um, it's just, it's rare nowadays, I think, um, to find a friend and a collaborator who is willing to have those conversations with you and explore those ideas and, and try different modes of working together and see you at your worst, um, and still support you. That's, that's rare. I'm getting so emotional now. So thank you Adrian for, uh, for being solid. Um, yeah,
Speaker 4 00:54:04 Thanks for being you pal <laugh>. Oo
Speaker 5 00:54:09 <laugh>. Yay. Everyone's
Speaker 2 00:54:11 Missing all of the video content, the priceless video content
Speaker 5 00:54:14 <laugh>. Yeah.
Speaker 2 00:54:16 Cat sightings. Um, I think it's really beautiful, like what I'm hearing from both of you. And I think one of the things that I'm, what's really it's raising for me is like the multiple hats that have to be worn when you're trying to maintain an artistic practice alongside with the pragmatic of like, how do I pay the bills? How do I get food and all of the things that make it possible for me to do the art artistic thing. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, and the challenges that come with it. On one hand, you know, Adrian, you're talking about donuts in the middle of the afternoon, but there's all of the invisible hustling that's happening that is so labor intensive, you know, and then Haman as you're talking about the day job and, uh, and like just talking about light things like, you know, white supremacy, no big deal, like it amount of, uh, how depleting that can be.
Speaker 2 00:55:00 And then also knowing that you, you carry that with you as you're trying to shed it off as you're trying to go do the artistic thing that brings you joy, but also requires a lot of labor and energy. Um, and that there's so many different ways that the price is paid. And really the only sustainable element of it all is our relationships. Like the people that we friend, the people that support our vision, and that we can also share our messy sort of ideas and, and they can be like, that's rad. Or they'll be like, that's a for, that's a forum film project that is not one film, you know? Um, but like knowing unapologetically that there is this person or a group of people that you can turn to to support that practice. Because so often, and I think especially in the context of a space like how Ottawa's, you know, sparsed out and fragmented and the constant moving pieces that it's ha it's really difficult to cultivate those relationships that allow you to like, pursue your creative pathway while also understanding that there's certain things you have to do to, to make the everyday happen, you know?
Speaker 2 00:56:07 Um, and like that's just, that's the reality of it. Um, so it's, it's really beautiful. I love like the friend appreciation, the, the, the community that makes the two of you happen. Like, you know, um, it's, it's really, uh, it's really wonderful to, to listen to it. Not that nervous breakdowns are wonderful. They suck <laugh>, they suck a
Speaker 4 00:56:27 Lot. Yeah. Um,
Speaker 2 00:56:28 But to know that like, you know, that there is a compassionate space there as you're going through, as you're trying to figure out what's the best approach to honoring, you know, the pragmatic, but then to also honor your creative vision, um, which is so necessary. Um, we're, we're slowly coming to an end of this episode and I'm, I'm kind of bummed out to leave because I wanna talk more, uh, and hear about more of the work that each of you are doing, uh, singularly and collectively. Um, I want to thank Adrian and Hagman for taking time and spending it with me, um, and Finn for the last little bit. Um, and I'm just really stoked to see, you know, how the, the collaborations will shift and grow and sustainability is the key. And I think the idea of, you know, quality and intention versus, you know, produ productivity and quantity, uh, you know, is, is an important, um, point to leave on that we want to slowly digest the things that we're making and thinking about, um, and leave space for like, go in with optimistic hope rather than the, the scarcity, which I think drives so many of us, uh, myself included, the, that there might not be an opportunity tomorrow, there might not be an opportunity to do this again ever again.
Speaker 2 00:57:45 And, you know, everything around us echoes this, everything around us that, uh, is inherently built in a way that doesn't account for front and center black and brown lives. It relies on us all functioning on scarcity. Uh, and so what does it mean to come in with an abundance mindset, um, and to care for ourselves and care for the communities we want to, we want to cater to, um, with that. Yeah. I just wanna say a giant thank you. I really appreciate it.
Speaker 4 00:58:13 Oh, no problem.
Speaker 5 00:58:16 And thank you, thank you for bringing us together. Um, I, I, I think what I take with me from this is, is something specific that you said, which is, um, black and brown joy, like finding more spaces to celebrate and have black and brown joy. That's, that's something that I take with me from, from this conversation and that, that I'll think about.
Speaker 4 00:58:41 Amazing. Yeah. Now it's just making me feel bad and that I should just like, say no more often to things
Speaker 2 00:58:48 Do say no more often. I, I feel like 2022 entering into 2023 needs to be the next decade of our lives of like, no more often <laugh>.
Speaker 4 00:58:58 Yeah.
Speaker 5 00:58:58 Yeah. The year of No <laugh>,
Speaker 4 00:59:01 No, no <laugh>. But yeah. No, I, I think what I will take from this conversation for sure is I think there needs to be more space for joy and also being open to, it may not be the great experience, but let's have fun with it anyway. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>.
Speaker 0 00:59:21 Yep. Yep. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, thanks for joining us for another episode. Don't forget to subscribe. Leave us a rating and a review. It helps us get that much more of a platform to be continued troubling. The Archive is hosted and produced by Anna Hawk. Technical support for the show comes through from Finn's Sun. A major thanks goes to Hunter Dewa for their wonderful work in creating the logo for the series. The Intro and outro commission works by artist Chris Bukowski. The show would not be possible without the support of Q Ag and the Canada Council for the Arts Digital.