It may having singing lesbians and boys in speedos, but David C Jones’ new film has a serious side. Making its debut at this year’s The Coast is Queer at the Vancouver Queer Film Festival, Same Boat is Jones’ opportunity to pay tribute to his mom.
“My mom was in a loveless relationship with my stepfather,” he explains. “He isolated her and then divorced her. She was pretty beaten down by emotional neglect, and when he divorced her she didn’t know what to do, and pretty much stopped living.”
Contracting Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) after the divorce, Jones says that she pretty much gave up on life at that time, and succumbed to ALS in 2000.
“I wanted to do a story about an older woman in a similar situation and wanted to have an LGBT element in the film that was the catalyst, and when the lesbians arrive they are that catalyst,” he says.
No ordinary lesbians though, in the sometimes fantastical world of Same Boat, the two arrive at a lakeside B&B and sing their way through their own relationship problems. The duo become the catalyst for the female owner of the bed and breakfast to move on in her own life.
“I wanted to create an optimistic and realistic portrayal of end of love and the start of new love in a completely fantastic and unique way,” he says. “The film is quite surreal and quite obscure in the sense there are no main villains and no obvious plot details.”
Wanting audiences to “lean in” and not watch the film passively, Jones has used a number of tricks in both his script and the cinematography that, when connected together, gives the viewer the clues to understanding the story.
“Often in a musical it is so in your face, and I wanted Same Boat to be more subtle,” he says. “The lesbians tell their entire story in song, and it mirrors Elizabeth’s story.”
Jones’ ninth film screened at the Vancouver Queer Film Festival that began with Laugh in 2008, Same Boat was not only an opportunity to pay tribute to his mom, but also allowed Jones to experiment with some ideas that he hadn’t done with past films.
“I had a couple of things I wanted to do: a musical, a film with lesbians, and to use the visual medium of film where each frame has some information in it,” he says.
And while there is definitely a queer aspect to Same Boat, Jones says that he purposely stepped away from doing “another gay film”, and moving away from being known as a filmmaker that only makes gay movies.
“We see gay films all the time about people coming out in their late age, but I wanted to do something different,” he says. “The gay characters are completely important and relevant to the story, but I didn’t want to make it a coming out story; we’ve seen that to death.”
Filmed in three days last May, Same Boat languished on the shelf for some time as Jones looked for funding to complete it.
“Kenneth Lau is such an amazing cinematographer and when we realized what he had captured by way of visuals we knew we needed to do a proper post-production on this film,” he says.
Having seen the finished product, audiences will be glad that Jones took the time to do it up right. There is little doubt that his mom would be very pleased too.
Same Boat plays as part of The Coast is Queer at the 2015 Vancouver Queer Film Festival on Friday, August 14. Visit http://queerfilmfestival.ca for tickets and information.