Shadowlands TV series

Marc Devigne and Charlie David in Shadowlands

SHADOWLANDS TV SERIES – Director Statement

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Format  The Shadowlands TV series is a miniseries of three episodes by director Charlie David exploring love –a narcissist grasping to comprehend it (Ep. 1 Narcissus), a couple renegotiating a relationship (Ep. 2 Mating Season) and star-crossed lovers mourning its loss (Ep. 3 Pygmalion Revisited).

The stories transition from one to the next in an anthology fashion and may be watched together and thought of as one film.  (Such as in Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s Four Rooms or Damian Szifron’s Wild Tales.)

Each episode in the Shadowlands TV series has a companion digital media component such as music videos or an exploration of the artists and technicians involved. 

SHADOWLANDS TV SERIES EPISODE 1: NARCISSUS

Shadowlands TV series Narcissus bed

Synopsis – Alex, a plastic surgeon hell bent on perfection, hosts a house party with an assortment of colorful guests.  Amid romantic misfires it becomes apparent that the only person Alex is interested in is himself.

Theme – The pursuit of perfection may become deadly when left unchecked.  This theme is explored in a less extreme fashion in Director Charlie David‘s documentary STUDlebrity.

 Setting  – Mansion.  Era is modern but with the influence of 1920’s Berlin.  People exploring their sexual freedom and new cosmetic surgeries in the pursuit of perfection. 

Companion webisode – In the companion webisode, we explore the costume design in Narcissus.    

SHADOWLANDS TV SERIES EPISODE 2: MATING SEASON  Oscar Moreno in Shadowlands TV series

Synopsis – A couple explore the idea of opening their relationship while on a remote camping trip when they encounter a mysterious stranger.

Theme – In every culture since time began there have been stories of apparitions. The causes of such phenomena are continually under speculation. It seems that no matter how much data, first-hand accounts and theories are collected, the question ‘Do Ghosts Exist’ is one that may never be answered…

Setting  – 1951 post WWII forest

Companion webisode: In the companion webisode, we’ll explore the history of the WWII hit song, My Buddy.  A male duet of the song was recorded for the soundtrack as well as a music video featuring clips from Mating Season.  

SHADOWLANDS TV SERIES EPISODE 3: PYGMALION REVISITED

Marc Devigne and Charlie David in Shadowlands
Marc Devigne and Charlie David in Shadowlands TV series episode 3 ‘Pygmalion Revisited’

Synopsis – Rudy is a painter who in mourning the loss of his lover and becomes obsessed with creating a realistic painting of him. The resulting piece is so beautiful, so life like that he is drawn under its spell.

Theme – Star-crossed lovers whose romance is cut short by the shears of fate.

Setting  – Present day artist’s loft.   

 Companion webisode: The companion webisode is a behind the scenes look at the creation of the life-size paintings and how the VFX team brought it to life.    

A music video, Ça va, featuring actor and singer Marc Devigne was also created utilizing clips from the Pygmalion Revisited episode.

THE WORLD of the SHADOWLANDS TV SERIES

Shadowlands is a fantasy world much like our own but where there are paranormal occurrences.

Each episode is in the Shadowlands TV series its own microcosm.  The characters and stories do not overlap directly BUT there are ‘Easter Eggs’ for our audience in the form of allusions to the other stories/worlds in each episode.

This may be in the appearance of a minor character in two stories.  Or within set décor, music or a prop.  For example:

SHADOWLANDS TV SERIES EASTER EGGS

Shadowlands Easter Egg 1:  The character of Percy Katt (Brian Michael Jensen) belongs in the world of NARCISSUS but in the film festival version of Shadowlands – switches a record on the gramophone with the episode titles to segue between each story.   

Shadowlands TV show Gramophone Percy Katt Narcissus

Gramophones are hidden throughout the Shadowlands TV show episodes.

Shadowlands Easter Egg 2: Gramophones can also be spotted in one of two black and white photographs depicted as Alex (Sean C. Dwyer) by Durban artist Andreas Chasomeris from his photographic collection titled ‘The Gray Scale 1946”.   These hang on either side of the mirror in his dungeon in NARCISSUS.

Gramophone seen in photos of Alex in his dungeon scenes in Shadowlands ‘Narcissus’
Shadowlands 'Narcissus' starring Sean C. Dwyer as Alex.
Alex (Sean C. Dwyer) in his dungeon in Shadowlands ‘Narcissus’

Shadowlands Easter Egg 3: A gramophone can also be spotted in a painting titled DARE NOT (2014) by South African artist Andreas Chasomeris in PYGMALION REVISITED which hangs by Rudy and Xavier’s bed.

Dare Not by Andreas Chomeris. Painting in the gay TV series Shadowlands
Charlie David as Rudy in Shadowlands ‘Pygmalion Revisited’

Shadowlands Easter Egg 4: The man flying fishing in the opening montage of ‘Mating Season’ is seen at the eccentric house party in ‘Narcissus’.

Jim Garrow as Fly Fisherman in Shadowlands TV series episode 1 Narcissus and episode 2 Mating Season
Fly Fisherman (Jim Garrow) in the Mating Season episode of Shadowlands
Alex (Sean C. Dwyer) and Fly Fisherman (Jim Garrow) in Shadowlands ‘Narcissus’

Shadowlands Easter Egg 5: In MATING SEASON, the characters Matteo (Oscar Moreno) and Will (Nicolas James Wilson) are negotiating their relationship and end up having a threesome with Daniel (Vasilios Filippakis).  This episode endorses the idea of non-monogamy and polyamory.

The threesome scene in the Mating Season episode of Shadowlands

The character of Alex (Sean C. Dwyer) in NARCISSUS makes disparaging remarks about the Bunny Boys (Basil Hendy & Kato Alexander) and their sexual proclivities in the dungeon.  Alex ultimately punishes the Bunny Boys for ‘behaving like a couple of swine.’  In this episode non-monogamy is challenged.

Kato Alexander and Basil Hendy as the Bunny Boys with Alex (Sean C. Dwyer) in the Narcissus episode of the gay TV series Shadowlands

Shadowlands Easter Egg 6: The theme of war is explored in MATING SEASON with Daniel (Vasilios Filippakis) receiving a dishonorable discharge in the form of a blue ticket.  Will (Nicolas James Wilson) has a monologue about what scares him about his job as a sailor.

Shadowlands TV series episode 3 'Mating Season'
Oscar Moreno, Nicolas James Wilson and Vasilios Filippakis in Shadowlands TV series episode 3 ‘Mating Season’

War is also a theme in NARCISSUS.  Thalia (Natasha Balakrishnan) urges Alex (Sean C. Dwyer) that life before the war (allusion to WWI) wasn’t perfect and neither were any of us.  Alex’s relentless pursuit of perfection to fix people (beginning with amputee soldiers and mustard gas victims) takes on a life of its own in the roaring 1920’s of Berlin.

Shadowlands TV series Narcissus
Narcissus with Sean C. Dwyer and Natasha Balkrishnan

Shadowlands Easter Egg 7: The cinematography in MATING SEASON of an overhead view of Matteo (Oscar Moreno) and Will (Nicolas James Wilson) laying perpendicular on a blanket while they agree to open their relationship is mirrored in PYGMALION REVISITED with Rudy (Charlie David) and Xavier (Marc Devigne) in a memory sequence.  Rudy is likening their relationship to Greek myth with the line, ‘Eros and Psyche intertwined under the heavy branches of an olive tree, blissfully unaware of the passage of centuries.’

Matteo (Oscar Moreno) and Will (Nicolas James Wilson) in Shadowlands ‘Mating Season’
Xavier (Marc Devigne) and Rudy (Charlie David) in the Pygmalion Revisited episode of the Shadowlands TV series.

Shadowlands Easter Egg 8: MATING SEASON is at its core a classic ghost story. 

Shadowlands TV series Mating Season

The theme of apparitions is echoed in PYGMALION REVISITED in Rudy’s dream as well as in his flashbacks of the film he and Xavier were watching on their movie night. 

The film is The Terror (1963) in which Lt. Andre Duvalier (Jack Nicholson) is haunted by the Ghost of Ilsa (Sandra Knight) who ultimately drives Baron Victor Frederick Von Leppe (Boris Karloff) to suicide from his guilt.

Shadowlands episode 3 'Pygmalion Revisited' The Ghost of Ilsa (Sandra Knight) who ultimately drives Baron Victor Frederick Von Leppe (Boris Karloff)
The Ghost of Ilsa (Sandra Knight) who ultimately drives Baron Victor Frederick Von Leppe (Boris Karloff)

Shadowlands Easter Egg 9: The castle spires seen in The Terror (1963) movie are echoed by the spires of the church that Rudy (Charlie David) walks into in PYGMALION REVISITED.

Shadowlands series - church spires from film The Terror 1963
Shadowlands series – church spires from film The Terror 1963
Shadowlands series - church spires
Church spires seen in Shadowlands TV series episode 3 ‘Pygmalion Revisited’.

Shadowlands Easter Egg 10: Thalia (Natasha Balakrishnan) is given a copper box with white Calla Lilies hiding a revolver in NARCISSUS.   

Thalia (Natasha Balakrishnan) receives Calla Lilies in Shadowlands episode 1 Narcissus
Thalia (Natasha Balakrishnan) receives Calla Lilies in Shadowlands episode 1 Narcissus

In the dungeon scenes in NARCISSUS there are red Calla Lilies laying on the table in which Alex (Sean C. Dwyer) keeps his torture tools.

Calla lilies in Shadowlands TV series episode 3 Pygmalion Revisited
Calla lilies in Shadowlands episode 3 Pygmalion Revisited

In PYGMALION REVISITED, Xavier (Marc Devigne) requests Rudy (Charlie David) to have Calla Lilies at his funeral because ‘they’re my favorite, but you already knew that.’  Calla Lilies figure prominently around Rudy and Xavier’s loft in PYGMALION REVISITED and ultimately Rudy paints Xavier holding one in his final painting.

Shadowlands TV series Pygmalion Revisited

Calla lily at the end of Shadowlands Pygmalion Revisited
Calla lily at the end of Shadowlands Pygmalion Revisited

Shadowlands Easter Egg 11: A painting that sits sideways in Rudy and Xavier’s loft in PYGMALION REVISITED is a reference to Alex in NARCISSUS.  It is titled ‘The Devil is…1931’ (2015) by Andreas Chasomeris and is another allusion to the roaring 20s in Berlin.  On the wall behind the man in the painting is a poster of the Marlene Dietrich film The Devil is a Woman (1935). 

The Devil is 1939 by South African artist Andreas Chomeris featured in Shadowlands episodes Narcissus and Pygmalion Revisited.
The Devil is a Woman starring Marlene Dietrich

Shadowlands Easter Egg 12: The Bunny Boys (Basil Hendy & Kato Alexander) are tied up in Alex’s dungeon in NARCISSUS. 

Shadowlands TV series Narcissus Kato Alexander and Basil Hendy
The bunny boys (Kato Alexander and Basil Hendy) are kept captive by Alex (Sean C. Dwyer)

In PYGMALION REVISITED there is a painting of two men tied up beside Xavier & Rudy’s bed.  It’s open to interpretation whether one man is tying up or untying the other.  On one of the man’s shirtsleeves is sewn a pink triangle – a sign meant to identify and demoralize homosexuals, similar to the Star of David for the Jewish people, that the Nazis enforced in the lead up to WWII.  

Finally in this painting there is a gramophone in the corner of the room.  The gramophone and changing of the record by Percy Katt (Brian Michael Jensen) is the first image we see in NARCISSUS as well as a recurring motif in the film festival version of SHADOWLANDS.   The painting is titled DARE NOT (2014) and is by South African artist Andreas Chasomeris as part of his 1939 show.  

Dare Not by painter Andreas Chomeris featured in the Shadowlands episode Pygmalion Revisited.

Shadowlands Easter Egg 13: Xavier (Marc Devigne) has left the painting in the final frames of PYGMALION REVISITED.  He’s crossed over from death to life and tragically Rudy (Charlie David) has crossed from life to death. 

Xavier exits the painting in Shadowlands TV series
Xavier exits the painting in Shadowlands TV series

There is hope for their ultimate reunion by way of a painting of two naked men in an embrace which the camera slowly pulls out from in the opening party montage in NARCISSUS.  The painting was originally created in 2007 by Scottsdale, Arizona artist James Angel for Charlie David’s film MULLIGANS in which his character Chase also plays a painter. 

Charlie David as the young painter ‘Chase’ in his film Mulligans.
Shadowlands Narcissus – the Easter Egg painting by James Angel originally seen in Charlie David’s film Mulligans.

Shadowlands Easter Egg 14: The song ‘Ça va’ written by Montreal musician Michael Daniel Murphy and performed in PYGMALION REVISITED by Xavier (Marc Devigne) is also hummed by Alex (Sean C. Dwyer) in NARCISSUS after he kills the Bunny Boys.

Shadowlands Easter Egg 15: Thalia (Natasha Balakrishnan) threatens suicide by lethal injection in NARCISSUS. 

Thalia threatens suicide by lethal injection in Shadowlands TV show episode 1 Narcissus
Thalia threatens suicide by lethal injection in Shadowlands episode 1 Narcissus

Rudy (Charlie David) assists Xavier’s (Marc Devigne) death and ultimately commits suicide in PYGMALION REVISITED.

Assisted death in Shadowlands TV series episode 3 Pygmalion Revisited
Assisted death in Shadowlands episode 3 Pygmalion Revisited
Suicide in Shadowlands TV series episode 3 Pygmalion Revisited
Suicide in Shadowlands episode 3 Pygmalion Revisited

The ‘play within the play’ or The Terror archival film clips in PYGMALION REVISITED include a scene where The Ghost of Ilsa (Sandra Knight) encourages the Baron (Boris Karloff) to take his own life. She consoles him by saying, ‘my own hand will guide you.  And we can be together forever. Forever.’

The Ghost of Ilsa (Sandra Knight) encourages the suicide of the Baron (Boris Karloff) in Shadowlands TV series episode 3 Pygmalion Revisited
The Ghost of Ilsa (Sandra Knight) encourages the suicide of the Baron (Boris Karloff) in Rudy (Charlie David’s) dream.

Shadowlands Easter Egg 16: There are black and white framed photos done in the style of Paraty, Brasil artist Aecio Sarti (two faces conjoined) of  Rudy & Xavier in PYGMALION REVISITED and of Thalia and Alex in NARCISSUS.

Shadowlands TV series Aecio Sarti painting
A painting by Aecio Sarti is seen in the background in episode 3 Pygmalion Revisited.
Shadowlands TV series Aecio Sarti style photograph
Photo in Shadowlands TV series episode 3 Pygmalion Revisited in the style of artist Aecio Sarti.
Photo in Shadowlands TV series Aecio Sarti.
Photo in Shadowlands TV series episode 1 Narcissus in the style of artist Aecio Sarti.
Aecio Sarti painting
Aecio Sarti painting

Visit Aecio Sarti’s website and learn more about this world renowned artist.

Shadowlands Easter Egg 17: In PYGMALION REVISITED Father Malik (Michael R. Buchanan) commissions Rudy (Charlie David) for a painting of Saint Bacchus.  Saint Bacchus is most commonly paired with Saint Sergius and they are known as erastai or lovers. 

Saints Sergius and Bacchus Alessio Ciani (1946 - living) Italy 2013
Alessio Ciani (1946 – living) Italy. © 2013
Mounted on wood, printed on canvas with frame and halos hand painted with acrilic gold

For centuries Sergius and Bacchus were upheld as ‘gay Saints’, often depicted in icons and statuary together.  Saints Sergius and Bacchus were martyred and the tale of how Bacchus came to Sergius in a dream before he died and promised they would be reunited in heaven is relayed to Rudy by Father Malik in the first scene of PYGMALION REVISITED.    

Father Malik (Michael R. Buchanan) comissions a painting of Saints Sergius and Bacchus from Rudy (Charlie David) in Shadowlands TV series episode 3Pygmalion Revisited
Father Malik (Michael R. Buchanan) comissions a painting of Saints Sergius and Bacchus from Rudy (Charlie David) in Shadowlands Pygmalion Revisited

In 1969 the Catholic church de-canonized Sergius and Bacchus and their churches, alters and art were renamed or destroyed.  Coincidentally 1969 was also the year of the Stonewall Riots and what we now mark as the beginning of gay liberation – Pride.

Read more about Saints Sergius and Bacchus here.

GREEK MYTHOLOGY REFERENCES IN SHADOWLANDS TV SERIES

Shadowlands Easter Egg 18: Xavier (Marc Devigne) wears a gold medallion of Zeus throughout PYGMALION REVISITED which is later claimed and worn by Rudy. 

Xavier (Marc Devigne) wearing the Zeus medallion in Shadowlands Pygmalion Revisited
Xavier (Marc Devigne) wearing the Zeus medallion in Shadowlands Pygmalion Revisited
Rudy (Charlie David) wearing the Zeus medallion in Shadowlands Pygmalion Revisited
Rudy (Charlie David) wearing the Zeus medallion in Shadowlands Pygmalion Revisited
Zeus coin pendant
Zeus coin pendant

In the original Greek mythology of Pygmalion and Galatea, Athena empathizes with Pygmalion and brings his statue Galatea to life. 

The goddess Athena taking pity on Pygmalion and bringing his statue to life.
The goddess Athena taking pity on Pygmalion and bringing his statue to life.

Zeus is known as a jealous and vengeful god and the ultimate tragedy in PYGMALION REVISITED may be interpreted as his revenge at Athena showing undue empathy to mortals.

Statue of Zeus

Rudy references several gods in PYGMALION REVISITED while contemplating how to complete his commission of a painting of Saint Sergius from Father Malik (Michael R. Buchanan).  Among these are Pallas Athena, Heracles, Eros, Psyche, and Zeus. 

Shadowlands Easter Egg 19: In MATING SEASON, Daniel (Vasilios Filippakis) can be imagined as the incarnate god Pan known for trickery of travelers in the woods as well as his sexual appetite.

The Greek god Pan represented in Shadowlands TV series episode 2 Mating Season in the character of Daniel (Vasilios Filippakis)
The Greek god Pan represented in Shadowlands episode 2 Mating Season in the character of Daniel (Vasilios Filippakis)

Shadowlands Easter Egg 20: In NARCISSUS, the character of Alex (Sean C. Dwyer) represents the title role while the character of Thalia (Natasha Balakrishnan) is his cast off lover, the nymph Echo.  Echo is also alluded to in the final exchange between Alex and Drew (Brian Woodford) when Drew echoes each of Alex’s lines.

Shadowlands episode 1 Narcissus
Narcissus is a painting by the Italian Baroque master Caravaggio, painted circa 1597–1599
Shadowlands TV series inspiration for episode 1 Narcissus
Echo and Narcissus (John William Waterhouse, 1903, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool)

Shadowlands Easter Egg 21: The dimensions of Rudy’s (Charlie David’s) art studio in Pygmalion Revisited are the divine ratio used in Greco-Roman architecture as well as classical art. The divine ratio or golden mean is found throughout nature, art and architecture such as the Great Pyramid in Giza, the Parthenon in Athens, and the Great Mosque of Kairouan. In art it is found in Leonardo da Vinci’s illustrations of polyhedra in ‘De divina proportione’,

Golden Mean ratio in the Pygmalion Revisited home of Rudy (Charlie David) & Xavier (Marc Devigne)
Golden Mean ratio in the Pygmalion Revisited home of Rudy (Charlie David) & Xavier (Marc Devigne)

Salvador Dalí explicitly used the golden ratio in his masterpiece, The Sacrament of the Last Supper. Mondrian has been said to have used the golden section extensively in his geometrical paintings.

Charlie David's Phi tattoo seen in Shadowlands episode 3 Pygmalion Revisited
Charlie David’s Phi tattoo seen in Shadowlands episode 3 Pygmalion Revisited

The actor Charlie David has tattoos of the Fibonacci sequence on his inner left wrist identifying his personal numerology of 3-5-8 and the symbol Phi on his inner right wrist which correlates to the Fibonacci sequence. If a Fibonacci number is divided by its immediate predecessor in the sequence, the quotient approximates the Divine Ratio or Phi.

Shadowlands Easter Egg 22: in episode 1 Narcissus, Thalia (Natasha Balakrishnan) stands on a silver statue of an owl.  A statue of the goddess Athena is seen in the background.

The owl is the totem animal of Athena and she is known as the goddess of wisdom.  In this scene Thalia is trying to save Alex (Sean C. Dwyer) from his ultimate demise by offering wisdom that could ultimately save him from himself.

Athena, goddess of Wisdom
Athena, goddess of Wisdom ancient coin with her totem animal, the owl on the reverse side.
Statue of Athena hidden in plain sight in a scene in Shadowlands Narcissus
Statue of Athena hidden in plain sight in a scene in Shadowlands Narcissus
Thalia stands on the totem animal of the Greek goddess Athena, the owl in Shadowlands episode 1 Narcissus.
Thalia stands on the totem animal of the Greek goddess Athena, the owl in Shadowlands episode 1 Narcissus.

Additional wardrobe, props and set decor from the three episodes in the Shadowlands TV series may be hidden in plain sight allowing for an immersive re-watch for the curious viewer.

Shadowlands miniseries is available on OUTtv and OUTtvGO in Canada and on Vimeo for our friends around the world.

If you enjoyed this, explore interviews with cast members of the Shadowlands series.

Charlie David (director of the Shadowlands series)

Marc Devigne (Xavier in episode 3 ‘Pygmalion Revisited’ of the Shadowlands series.

Oscar Moreno (Matteo in episode 2 ‘Mating Season’ of the Shadowlands gay series)

Sean C. Dwyer (Alex in episode 1 ‘Narcissus’ of the Shadowlands miniseries)

Nicolas James Wilson (Will in episode 2 ‘Mating Season’ of the Shadowlands gay series)

Vasilios Filippakis (Daniel in episode 2 ‘Mating Season’ of Shadowlands)

Brian Woodford (Drew in episode 1 ‘Narcissus’ of Shadowlands gay series)

Natasha Balakrishnan (Thalia in episode 1 ‘Narcissus’ of Shadowlands

 

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STUDlebrity – rise of the social celebrity

Studlebrity rise of the social celebrity Topher Dimaggio

What is a STUDlebrity?

Being famous for being famous is a phenomenon so ubiquitous that it’s almost no longer shocking. Ever since Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian showed up on the Hollywood scene as celebrities known almost exclusively for being rich socialites, thousands more are trying to gain notoriety despite having apparently very few skills–and they’re doing it using social media.

Canadian documentary filmmaker Charlie David explores the phenomenon of the chiseled gay males that are known as a STUDlebrity – guys who seem to make a career out of having impressive audiences on social media. We had the chance to meet Charlie David to discuss his new documentary Studlebrity, and his own personal beliefs about social media.

Q: Most recently you’ve been behind the scenes in director roles. What were your onscreen jobs in the past?

I’ve done on camera work since I was a teenager. In terms of openly gay roles, I was in Dante’s Cove–the first gay series on the first gay network in the U.S, Here TV. I also hosted a travel show on a queer network called Bump!. I’ve moved towards directing over the past 5 years, but I still act. I just appeared in a movie called Paternity Leave about a gay couple who get pregnant!

Q: It sounds like portraying gay characters in the media has been your passion. Did you have any gay actor or director role models growing up?

I didn’t. I grew up in small town Saskatchewan in the 80’s and 90’s when there weren’t as many LGBTQ people represented in the media. At the time, being gay was so closely associated with the fear of HIV that the thought of coming out was scary. It’s part of why being involved in these shows has been so rewarding. We’re trying to grow diversity in the types of stories we’re telling so young people have more examples of successful, healthy gay people. At this point, though, I think being gay is so widely accepted that it’s not a “big deal” in mainstream media anymore. Because of recent political developments, I feel like suddenly the floodgates are opening and so much of the stigma that used to exist has gone by the wayside.

Q: What compelled you to create Studlebrity?

I was curious about this whole “social media star” phenomenon. Technology is part and parcel of our lives now, and we can’t really escape it without ostracizing ourselves. In the old world, studios produced all the content for audiences. Now, we’re the producers and the consumers of content. It’s a new paradigm that we have to figure out, and what gear in that machine we want to represent. Technology is advancing more quickly than we are, and we have to play a bit of catch up when it comes to understanding our relationship with it. It’s a terribly exciting time.

Q: Some of the subjects in your film seem to turn their social media activity into a lucrative living. Is it truly a sustainable career?

It’s a profitable career for very few people. A lot of aspiring actors try to build up their brand using social media to get acting jobs, but it’s not a surefire way to make money.

Q: At one point in the film, there’s some suggestion that these gay “studs” are possibly helping younger gay youth come out. Would you say the subjects in the film could be considered positive role models?

Being able to see other happy, successful, openly gay men living their lives can be empowering to young people who are afraid to come out. Certainly, having more gays represented in the media, and on social media, is a good thing, although I can’t conclusively says every STUDlebrity is a great role models for teenagers. I personally don’t think the elements of gay life depicted in this film are all that attractive or positive, but it’s the truth, it’s happening. My job is to expose this phenomenon, to look at it and examine it, but not tell you what I think about studlebrities – that’s up to the individual.

Q: Your film explores the darker side of the Studlebrity…

Right, including the addiction to validation via social media which is pretty harmful. I think seeking validation is a natural human instinct, but it’s one we should be wary of. If your endorphins get going from seeing likes or comments, that’s a very precarious place.

Social media also unfortunately enables people to compare themselves to these highly curated images of other people’s lives. For vulnerable young people especially, these social media stars give power to that negative little voice that resides in us that sometimes says “you’ll never be that fit” or “you’ll never be that popular”.

Q: A psychologist, Doctor Laurie Betito, makes an appearance in the film and warns against some of these social media “dangers”. What are some important pieces of advice she’s given?

She certainly warns against posting nude photos, or photos in compromising positions and states of undress. Putting yourself out there in a way that could potentially taint future relationships, especially professional ones is a real risk. I personally think we can dial down the overt sexuality seen in social media. It cheapens us.

Q: What’s the best way to approach social media?

I think we need to curate who we follow in the same way we all curate what we choose to post. Follow people that give you a sense of joy and inspiration, not those that make you feel inadequate.

Q: What do you want the viewer of Studlebrity to come away with?

The best thing I can hope for is that people talk about it. You can dislike it or get angry about it or agree with it, but I feel I’ve accomplished my goal if it incites a conversation and even a bit of self reflection. If the audience can look at their social profiles and ask themselves “is this representation of myself something I feel good about?” then I feel the film has served a purpose.

Q: What films can we expect to see in the near future?

I have a sevearl new documentaries coming out. There’s Balls, which is about testicular health and how, as men, we relate to our balls from many different standpoints.

We’ll also be launching PolyLove soon which explores polyamory and non-monogamy.  I just keep following my curiosity! 

Studlebrity ou On aime les belles gueules

Entrevue: Charlie David

Être célèbre pour être célèbre est un phénomène de société tellement omniprésent que ce n’est plus scandaleux du tout. Depuis l’entrée hollywoodienne de Paris Hilton et Kim Kardashian, connues seulement pour être mondaines et riches, des milliers d’autres tentent d’acquérir une certaine notoriété en utilisant les médias sociaux et ce, malgré une dose minime de talent.

Le documentariste canadien Charlie David explore le phénomène des homosexuels au corps musclé qu’on surnomme les studlebrities, ces hommes qui semblent s’être créée une carrière par le seul fait d’avoir amassé un nombre impressionnant d’amateurs sur les médias sociaux. Nous avons eu la chance de rencontrer Charlie David et de discuter de son nouveau documentaire Studlebrity et de ses opinions à propos des médias sociaux.

Plus récemment, on vous retrouve derrière la caméra en tant que réalisateur. Quels ont été quelques-uns de vos rôles à l’écran?

J’ai travaillé en tant qu’acteur de puis mon adolescence. En terme de rôles ouvertement gais, j’ai joué dans Dante’s Cove qui était la première série gaie sur Here TV, première chaîne gaie aux États-Unis. J’ai aussi animé une émission de voyage sur une station queer appelée Bump!. Je me suis orienté vers la réalisation dans les cinq dernières années, mais je joue encore la comédie. Je viens d’apparaître dans un film intitulé Paternity Leave à propos d’une couple homosexuel qui attend un enfant!

On dirait qu’interpréter des personnages homosexuels dans les médias est une de vos passions. Étant jeune, y avait-il des acteurs ou réalisateurs homosexuels qui vous servaient de modèle?

Il n’y en avait pas. J’ai grandi dans une petite ville de Saskatchewan dans les années 80 et 90 et il n’y avait pas autant de gens LGBTQ représentés dans les médias. À l’époque, être gay était si étroitement associé à la peur du VIH que l’idée de s’afficher publiquement était effrayant. C’est en grande partie pour cette raison qu’être impliqué dans ces émissions s’est avéré être si gratifiant. Nous tentons de diversifier le genre d’histoires que nous racontons pour que les jeunes aient plus d’exemples de personnes homosexuelles qui réussissent dans la vie et sont en santé. Je pense aussi qu’être gai est accepté à un point tel que ce n’est plus la mer à boire dans les médias grand public. Grâce aux récents événements politiques, j’ai l’impression que tout d’un coup les vannes sont ouvertes et que beaucoup des préjugés qui existaient ont été enfin délaissés.

Qu’est-ce qui vous a inspiré à créer Studlebrity?

J’étais vraiment intrigué par cet espèce de phénomène de « vedette des médias sociaux ». La technologie fait maintenant part entière de nos vies et il est pratiquement impossible de l’éviter sans pour autant s’ostraciser. Auparavant, les studios produisaient tout le contenu disponible à l’audience alors que de nos jours, nous sommes à la fois les producteurs et les consommateurs du contenu. C’est un nouveau paradigme que nous devons définir, tout comme le rôle que nous voulons y jouer. La technologie avance plus rapidement que nous le faisons et nous devons rattraper ce retard pour comprendre la relation que nous entretenons avec elle. C’est une période extrêmement passionnante.

Quelques-uns des sujets de votre film semble réussir à avoir leur présence sociale en une occupation lucrative. Est-ce vraiment une carrière durable?

C’est une carrière rentable pour très peu de gens. Beaucoup d’acteurs en herbe essaient de cultiver leur identité d’artiste en se servant des médias sociaux pour obtenir des rôles, mais ça n’est pas une façon automatique de faire de l’argent.

À un moment durant le film, la suggestion est émise que ces beaux mecs gais aident possiblement la jeunesse gaie à s’afficher. Diriez-vous que les sujets du film peuvent être considérés comme des sont des modèles positifs?

De pouvoir voir d’autres hommes à la fois ouvertement gais, heureux et accomplis peut être très motivant pour les jeunes qui veulent annoncer leur homosexualité. Il est certain qu’avoir une visibilité médiatique plus grande pour les homosexuels est une bonne chose, mais je ne peux affirmer que toutes les studlebrities soient de bons modèles pour les adolescents. Personnellement, je ne pense pas que tous les éléments de la vie gaie présentés dans le film soient très attrayants ou positifs, mais c’est la vérité, ça arrive. Mon travail est d’exposer ce phénomène, de l’observer et de l’examiner, mais pas de vous dire ce que je pense des studlebrities – la tâche revient à chacun.

Votre film explore le côté sombre de la Studlebrity…

Exactement, incluant la dépendance très néfaste à la validation à travers les médias sociaux. Je pense que rechercher de la validation est un instinct humain naturel, il faut parfois s’en méfier. Si vos endorphines s’emballent à voir des « j’aime » ou des commentaires, c’est très précaire comme situation.

Les médias sociaux permettent aux gens de se comparer avec des images savamment étudiées de la vie d’autres personnes. Pour des jeunes vulnérables, ces vedettes des médias sociaux donnent du pouvoir à la petite voix négative à l’intérieur de nous qui parfois nous dit « tu ne seras jamais aussi en forme » ou « tu ne seras jamais aussi populaire ».

La psychologue Dr. Laurie Betito fait une apparition dans le film et met en garde contre les dangers des médias sociaux. Quels sont quelques-uns des conseils importants qu’elles a donnés?

Elle met en garde contre le fait d’afficher des photos nues ou prises des positions compromettantes. S’exposer de cette façon peut potentiellement entacher des relations futures, celles professionnelles sont particulièrement à risque. Je pense qu’il est possible de diminuer le niveau de sexualité flagrante dans les médias sociaux. Ça nous discrédite.

Quelle est la meilleure façon d’approcher les médias sociaux?

Je pense qu’on doit porter la même attention aux gens que nous choisissons de suivre qu’à celle dont on fait preuve en choisissant ce qu’on affiche. Suivez des gens qui vous apportent de la joie et vous inspirent, et non ceux qui vous font sentir inadéquats.

Qu’aimeriez-vous que l’audience de Studlebrity retire du film?
Ce que je peux espérer de mieux est que les gens en parlent. Vous pouvez ne pas aimer, en être vexé, ou à l’inverse être d’accord, mais je pense que j’aurai atteint mon but si le film provoque une discussion et peut-être même une réflection interne. Selon moi, si les membres de l’audience regardent leurs profils sociaux et se demandent si cette représentation de leur personne est quelque chose qui les fait se sentir bien ou pas, le film aura servi à quelque chose.

Quels films peut-on attendre dans un futur proche?

J’ai un nouveau documentaire qui prendra l’affiche intitulé Balls. C’est à propos de la santé testiculaire et des différentes facettes de la relation qu’ont les hommes envers leurs couilles.

 

Written by Mikela Jay for NeverApart.com

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