Q&A With Cody Campanale, director and writer of Jackie Boy

Edward Charette, left, as Kal and Alino Giraldi, right, as Jack in Jackie Boy

Jackie Boy is a recently-released Canadian drama written and directed by Cody Campanale, starring Alino Giraldi and Shannon Coulter. It tells the story of Jack (Giraldi), a self-destructive womanizer in a working-class Canadian town, who tries to change his life when he meets and falls for Jasmine (Coulter). Unknown to Jack, however, Jasmine has a hidden agenda.

Cody Campanale is an Ottawa-based director, writer, producer, and filmmaker. Jackie Boy is his first feature film.

Adina: There seems to be an implication that Kal is attracted to Jack, but it is never confirmed or fully articulated. Was Kal trying to keep Jack from changing, or trying to keep Jack for himself? Or is that implication simply not true?

Cody Campanale: I think Kal’s in love with Jack, but he’s too confused and frustrated by his own distorted notions of masculinity to comprehend that his admiration of Jack’s ‘manliness’ is actually a closeted love he feels for his best friend. With this in mind, many of Kal’s actions in the later part of the film can be seen as those of a jealous lover. A lover completely rejected by someone they never saw themselves living without.

A: Throughout the film, I noticed that the men tend to deny the severity of the violence the women face. Jack and Kal excuse Jack posting photos of Sasha without her consent, Jack tries to dismiss Jasmine’s fear after Kal chases her, and so on. Was there a deliberate point you were trying to make about this?

C: I would define the characters in this film as emotionally disconnected youth living in an emotionally disconnected landscape. This emotional disconnect allows all the characters to act in ways that are insensitive, violently destructive and just plain nasty. I chose to focus our lens on the men because I wanted to further explore the dangers that living in this emotionally disconnected landscape can have on ‘conditioned’ male notions of masculinity when left unaddressed.
Also, one could probably argue that throughout human history, great destruction and harm has come from the actions of men. This is a pretty scary thought and something I think influences my work as a filmmaker to some degree.

A: Were you afraid that the brutality and explicit nature of the ending would turn any viewers off? If so, why keep it in the movie?

C: We always knew the ending would be polarizing. And to be honest, I rather enjoy films that tend to have polarizing endings. It’s important to note, as difficult as the ending was for people to watch, it was just as difficult for us to shoot. The actors were emotionally drained and destroyed after each take (and there were very few takes). The crew members who were on set when the cameras rolled, left the set in tears. It was one of the most difficult things I ever had to create. While writing it, I kept asking myself if the scene in question was needed to articulate the film’s ideas and I kept concluding that it was. I could have written another ending, one that was less violent perhaps, or possibly more optimistic, but it wouldn’t have captured the ideas I wanted to get across with this story. I believe the destructive nature of these characters is a big concern, and by witnessing the full extent of their behaviour and the lack of awareness they have, an audience can understand how dangerous this emotional disconnect really is.

A: Would you consider the movie a feminist piece, or at least a film with a “message” of some kind? Are you okay with others making those assertions? What might that “message” be?

C: I wouldn’t consider the film a feminist piece, and I don’t suspect a lot of people will. However, I do consider it a critical view of conditioned masculinity in modern times. I think the film examines the conflicting and destructive ways that men cope with insecurities surrounding their own male identity. Beyond this examination, I think the film explores many other thematic ideas, such as: man’s inability to change, the removal of personal agency, and the using of others for pleasure or personal gain.
A well-made film should ask lots of questions and demand that the audience draw their own conclusions to those questions. I’m very happy if audiences see different things or ‘messages’ in my film. It means I’ve made you work, and good art should make you work a bit.

Shannon Coulter as Jasmine in Jackie Boy

A: In the film, Liz and Tony are the only ones who seem to have even a semi-healthy relationship, however this also breaks apart. Are the problems of these characters individual issues, or was this a commentary on the state of modern relationships in general?

C: I think the tragedy in Liz and Tony’s relationship comes from Tony’s self-defeatist attitude. He’s incredibly self-loathing and blames all his own problems on his surroundings, rather than attempting to change his environment or his attitude. Instead, he lives in that feeling of being ‘wronged’. In his mind, he did nothing to deserve what he got from life. It makes me sad, actually. Of all the male characters, Tony probably had the greatest chance of escaping his personal hell. He was so loved and supported by Liz, but didn’t know how to reciprocate that love. It truly is tragic.
I’m not sure I would consider this relationship a commentary on the state of modern relationships. It’s definitely a commentary on a particular type of relationship.

A: Jack undergoes a serious change in the film, at least from the audience perspective. However, he never makes an effort to make amends to Sasha or any of the other women he has presumably also hurt over the years. Does this mean that his general attitude toward women hasn’t really changed at all?

C: Interesting point you bring up here. If the film didn’t take the nasty turn it does in the last act, perhaps Jack would have shown more growth and decided to right his wrongs. Or, perhaps, he would not have had the courage to…that’s really for the audience to decided. Having said this, in the film I presented, I don’t think enough time passes for Jack to grow to the point that he would want to correct those wrongs.

A: Was any part of the film based on your own life or experiences?

C: Not exactly. I mean, I knew people with similar attitudes and patterns of behaviours, but not to the same extent or to the level of meanness portrayed in my film. Also, while writing the film, I was close to the age of these characters so I was living in a similar landscape, or in a ‘hookup culture’ if you’d prefer to call it that. I think a lot of the film came from my interest in exploring masculinity or the challenges with understanding your own masculinity.

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Together We Can Help Make The Ontario Government Support Canadian Designers

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As a publication, our mission is to highlight and support Canadian fashion designers to create visual stories that helps to bring awareness to their brand. We have heard countless times the financial struggles they face trying to stay in business. Ashlee Froese is leading the charge to stop the Ontario Government from neglecting the province’s talented designers.

1. How did the petition come about?

Last year the Ontario government spent over $800 million supporting the arts and culture community. For the first time, the Ontario government is creating a Culture Strategy and has asked for input from stakeholders as to what the Culture Strategy should encompass. Fashion has not been included as the government does not believe that it qualifies as arts or culture. Therefore, the fashion industry is ineligible for funding as part of the Culture Strategy. I, along with a conglomerate of influential fashion industry players, believe that fashion is a significant part of the arts and culture of Ontario and, therefore, should be eligible for government funding.

2. Why should this issue be important to more than just fashion insiders?

Where do I begin?! There are a number of reasons. First, the fashion community is filled with talented, hardworking, enterprising and dedicated professionals who are in need to financial support. Second, we are all consumers of the fashion industry. Third, the fashion industry is a SIGNIFICANT economic contributor and has the potential to be more so in Canada, with the right sort of support and funding. Investing in the fashion industry will provide a return on investment, that we all benefit from. Fourth, the fashion industry is multi-layered and spans a number of industries. The impact of investing in the fashion industry goes beyond the fashion industry itself and extends to other industries such as manufacturing, skilled labour, retail, entertainment, hospitality, and tourism. Fifth, the fashion industry has a robust infrastructure. We have numerous post-secondary institutions, incubators, accelerators, trade shows, mentoring organizations, and fashion shows. The fashion industry is already structured in a way to ensure that any funding is not thrown into an abyss.

3. What are the benefits of having fashion recognized by the Ontario Government?

Once fashion is recognized by the Ontario Government as a part of arts and culture, it will be eligible for key funding that it is need of.

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4. What has the response been like since the launch of the petition?

Amazing! It is really heartwarming and exhilarating to see the fashion industry as a whole get behind this initiative. Within a few days, we were able to secure endorsements of key organizations and industry leaders such as Toronto Fashion Incubator, Fashion Group International, the Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards, Lisa Tant, Jeanne Beker, Stylist Box, Sue Roadburg, David Dixon, Suzanne Rogers, Deirdre Kelly, Paul Mason, Robert Ott, Sabrina Maddeaux, Ryerson Fashion Zone, Mikael D, and Novella Magazine. In addition, we have also garnered the support of close to 600 people… and the numbers literally jump exponentially forward by the hour.

5. How can people get involved?

I have drafted up a submission to the Ontario government that encourages it to invest in the fashion industry. You can read the submissions at www.canadafashionlaw.com. If you agree with our position, please expressly support it by signing the petition at: https://www.change.org/p/ontario-ministry-of-tourism-culture-and-sport-hon-michael-coteau-mpp-don-valley-east-fashion-advocacy-petition-the-ontario-government-to-fund-and-support-the-fashion-industry

Ashlee Froese is a fashion lawyer, partner on Bay Street and recognized as a Certified Specialist by the Law Society of Upper Canada. She is co-chair of FGI, a mentor with TFI and CAFA and an advisor with Ryerson Fashion Zone. She has been published academically on fashion law and is a frequent guest lecturer on fashion law throughout North America.