How Montreal local and Mcgill graduate, Liz Singh turned her life into a film
Liz Singh spent nearly half a decade working on her first film, The Lower Plateau, which was released in 2018. Made on a $19,000 production budget using just one camera and a boom mic, the film was Singh’s way of illustrating the many facets of her own life in the lower Plateau as an emerging artist. Based in Montreal, Singh obtained her bachelor’s degree in cultural studies at McGill in 2006, and went on to study film and television production at the University of Southern California.
Singh’s inspiration in pursuing this venture arose from a lack of interest in other opportunities. “I was looking for a project, and I couldn’t find anything I wanted to work on, so I made my own,” she said. Filmed in Montreal, the cast and crew consisted of about 50 people, many of whom had never worked on a movie set before. For a bunch of first-timers, the end result is quite impressive.
The Lower Plateau follows a 20-something named Jaine, who seems to be idling in uncertainty as to where to take her life. In an experience that is all too familiar to the creatively-adept young adult, she navigates toxic relationships, unemployment and a routine that seems tantalizing in its swift ability to direct her attention back to both.
A few solid friendships pull Jaine through the worst of times, though each bond bears its own set of scraps. Singh attributes the personalities of some of the supporting characters to her real-life companions. “I think probably every character that you write is a facet of yourself, and then mixed in with bits and pieces of people you know,” she said. “I wanted it to feel like my life in the lower Plateau; a lot of people I know, this is how we’re living, sort of working in bars and working at night, doing multiple gigs and making art on the side.”
Right now, Singh and co. are working on a few web series, one of which may involve “a modern take on superheroes,” Singh said. Through her production company, Dépanneur Films—which was established in 2014 under the name Cinéma La Vox—Singh has also put out a web series that resembles The Lower Plateau, called Bonjour Hi.
In listening to Singh describe her past as well as her ambitions, the parallels between her and Jaine are clear, despite one poignant detail. If Jaine is a version of Singh in any capacity, I have reason to believe that she represents a Singh of the past. The beaming woman who stood before me to eagerly discuss the details of her debut film seems to have surmounted a period of uncertainty and poured her heart and soul into her art. The result is content as beautiful as it is sad.
Though The Lower Plateau is a noticeable first attempt a full-length film, if it’s any preview of what Singh and the rest of her crew are capable of under a tight budget, I’m looking forward to whatever’s next.
The Lower Plateau was screened on April 7 at Transparent Film Festival in New York City, and will be available online next month as part of the Lift-Off Sessions.