Home CommentaryStudent Life Interview #193: A Nick Younes experiment

Interview #193: A Nick Younes experiment

by Archives October 9, 2007

Through the maze of gray corridors that constitute Dawson College, in the basement of the C-section, are the offices of CIXS, the Dawson College radio station.
Inside the small yellow vestibule: noise, noise and more noise, Trojan posters and shiny CDS.
In this underground haven, where surely Kurt Cobain would have been right at home and everything seems dirty, sits Nick Younes.
He is surrounded by a horde of faithful subjects, otherwise known as a handful of 19 year-olds, tongue pierced and all, who strut a lot of attitude. Drama, drama, drama.
Being program director of the radio station comes with its share of responsibilities. Younes frees himself from the crowd.
“Salut cherie! Comment vas-tu? Give me a minute I need to take care of something.”
Nick Younes is a sight to behold. Today he is wearing a graphic t-shirt, a lumberjack vest and jean shorts (cut by hand) with suspenders that hang on his behind.
Younes shows with some pride his diamond stretcher (an earring that stretches across the ear).
As Younes starts talking it is clear that he is not your average 18-year-old CEGEP student.
Younes is spectacular by his very uniqueness.
Wise beyond his years, he is also a restless creative mind.
“Oh my god, do you know what I did this week-end? I went to e-art! Do you know what that is? It’s an exposition at Musée des Beaux-Arts about electronic art. I saw this crazy experimental installation from one of my favorite artists. Her name is Lynn Hershman Leeson. Have you ever heard of her? I would like to do work like hers one day.”
It doesn’t take long to figure out that “experimentation” is Younes’s favorite thing to do.
In fact, everything about him is an experiment.
While many young people his age are struggling to find their “voice”, what makes them unique and what defines them, Nick Younes is searching no more. Younes’s voice comes naturally through experimenting in the arts.
For many young adults, expressing how they feel is a tedious task.
For Younes, filmmaking is the medium by which he can deal with the realms of emotions he faces day after day, and also in the face of traumatic events such as the Dawson shooting.
“At the time of the shooting, I was in my experimental video class, which is very ironic because it is my favorite class of all time. We were watching a video when we heard the gunshots,” says Younes.
“I told my teacher these were gunshots but she said it was firecrackers. I ran to the door and opened it and saw hundreds of students running.
“Soon after they brought a girl who was shot in the leg, her name is Charlene Luskila and she was screaming at the top of her lungs. Two and a half hours later the S.W.A.T team came to get us.”
Younes says he had no contact with his family during that time and lost hope in being able to escape alive.
“I thought, ‘There is so much I want to accomplish and I am not going to do anything.'”
After the shooting, Younes remembers feeling confusion.
“I cried a lot. I had become really paranoid. I didn’t sleep or eat for weeks after. I also dropped a lot of classes.”
While other students turned to alcohol, drugs and sex to cope with the aftermath of that day, Younes turned to himself.
“All the confusion I felt made me really inspired. I knew I had to do something about it.”
That something turned into a five-minute experimental film called Video #00913, in reference to Sept. 13, the date of the shooting.
The video really is a metaphor for the relationship between the media and the Dawson students.
“After the shooting, I felt like the media was stripping us down with their constant scrutiny,” says Younes who was interviewed numerous times.
“I know a lot of people felt uncomfortable and this is what I wanted to portray.”
Younes is the first to admit the correlation between the two might not be evident at first glance.
“My video is experimental. It is unconventional. It makes people ask themselves what is the story here? And that’s what I want. I don’t do this to please people. I do this to shake people. I want them to talk.”
On August 25, Younes’s movie was presented at the World Film Festival.
Younes was the only CEGEP student who’s movie was featured.
This doesn’t surprise Will Aitken, Younes’s former teacher.
“I thought it was so creative and brilliant.
“When it was presented, it was the most emotionally complex and technically experimental part of our show. It just struck a chord with students.”
Cynthia Younes, Nick’s younger sister, isn’t surprised either.
“Nick has always been able to turn bad things into something beautiful, unexpected and absurd. He was never like anybody else. I would describe him as someone eccentric, absurd and who doesn’t go unnoticed.”
And going unnoticed is certainly not part of Younes’s plans.
The aspiring filmmaker wishes to get into Concordia’s Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema.
“Movies are just another way for me to express myself. I just put all my emotions, everything, into what I do.”
Aneta Wojtowicz, his one of Younes’s best friends. She envies this trait about him.
“To this day, so many of us are still confused about what happened on Sept.13. But Nick’s movie was like a catharsis for him. He is just a changed person because of it.
“And what he does.He is so outside the box. I really admire his resilience.”
In the mean time and before he goes Hollywood, Younes is off to his next unconventional creative project.
“Every week I have a column in the student newspaper called The Dot, where I see people dress in unusual ways and I take pictures of them,” Younes says with pride.
A wild guess as to what the subtitle might be?
A Nick Younes experiment.

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