C.M-S: Could you introduce yourself both
personally and professionally, please?
DA: My name
is David Adkin. I'm a freelance film-maker living in Toronto, Ontario,
Canada. For the last 6 or 7 years I've been working on contract
for the National Film Board of Canada in the field of educational
videos. I've also been developing ideas for documentary films on
gay and lesbian issues - and "OUT - Stories of Lesbian and
Gay Youth" is my first major feature length documentary.
I'm 33 years old.
C.M-S: Several times in discussion yesterday
you stressed the need for positive roles. Did you have problems
in this direction?
DA: I think I had the same problems that
other gay and lesbian youth have when they are growing up - a general
lack of access to any factual information about homosexuality, or
being gay - and what that means. Certainly very little positive
information or images were available. There are certainly not many
films that deal with the experience of growing up and coming out
as a teenager. I knew from my own experience ... that a film like
this is extremely important. We know from some of the studies that
starting to be done in North America that gay youth are three times
more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual teenagers are.
This is related to the lack of understanding and acceptance of homosexuality
in the culture generally as well as the negativity that the kids
are exposed to. What I'm trying to do is to counteract that negative
atmosphere. Hopefully this film if it is seen by gay youth - I hope
it will be used in schools - will help them to know that at least
they are not alone, help to reaffirm their identity, and to know
that they can go on and lead a healthy and positive life.
There are stories in the film of negative coming out experiences,
but they tend to be told to the camera as testimonials - as events
that have happened. We don't see those events happening. With Patrick
and his mother, when he talks about coming out to her. She breaks
into tears. It's a powerful scene. It's funny the way they tell
it, but extremely poignant. ...
C.M-S: Do you have any "role-models"
yourself in the sense of film-making?
DA: The major influence on this film for
me are a number of gay documentaries that have come out in the last
ten years. Films like "Word is out", "The Times of
Harvey Milk", "Before Stonewall", "Stories from
the Quilt" are the films that affected me - in particular "Harvey
Milk". I saw it at a time that I had just come out as a university
student living in Toronto. They tend to use fairly conventional
documentary techniques, but they're powerful because the put on
screen the direct testimonies and experiences of gay people. That's
what I wanted to do in this film. So I think this film is very much
within a tradition of gay documentary - which is different from
the Art Video and the Art Film tradition. There are a number of
gay works that have come out in that genre that are fictional stories.
Some of them tend to be much more experimental in their approach.
There's a whole definition of something called "queer cinema".
This film is not really within that tradition, but I think it is
firmly rooted within a gay film-making tradition - documentary gay
C.M-S: What about your own coming out?
DA: My own coming out story is fairly
boring. My parents figured out I was gay long before I did!. I was
at university in Toronto, and went back to Saskatoon at Christmas
time and told my parents and they basically said well we figured
this out quite a while ago. You’re still our son and we love you.
... I've had a lot of support from family and friends. I think that
has made it possible for me to feel secure in making this kind of
film and to be open about it.
C.M-S: I ask because when the film starts
there are four youngsters sitting in front of a school class. I
know this happens in the Nordic area ...
DA: You see a lot of the videos that have
been made has been geared towards a gay audience. On the one hand
I'm trying to reach a wide audience, beyond the gay community, but
which includes the gay community. Otherwise there's no point in
making the film because I'm trying to educate people who need to
be educated. Certainly gay and lesbian adults don't need to be told
what it is like to grow up. On the other hand I didn't want to make
a film that was going to compromise in what we had to say. So I'm
trying to make a film that is very strong and firm in what it's
saying - We are here and we ought to be accepted for who we are
- but not in a way that is threatening to people, or is going to
alienate people. I want to "embrace" a larger audience
and bring them into the discussion.
The funding of gay and lesbian films has happened because some
people in institutions like the National Film Board (of Canada)
are supportive and believe that films should be made about these
Colin de la Motte-Sherman