The Concordia alumna discusses The Voyeurs, Montreal, and representation in film
In 2013, Katharine King So took a blind leap, and decided to move to Montreal to enroll at Concordia’s Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. Born and raised in Vancouver, her move to Montreal encouraged her to forge new connections within the film industry. The Concordia alumna’s latest gig, The Voyeurs, granted her the opportunity to play a role in a city that originally ignited her passion for film.
Although acting and filmmaking are her chief passions, she’s equally enthusiastic about advocating for those working in the film industry who identify as marginalized. King So founded the LGBTQ2S+ group at ACTRA Montreal (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists) and she aspires to create lasting change within the industry.
TC: Can you talk to me about The Voyeurs and what it was like to be able to return to Montreal?
KKS: It was great! I’m excited to see what people think of the film, because there’s genuinely a lot of surprises. The film basically focuses on this couple that moves into an apartment where their window looks directly into the loft across the street from them. As they become more obsessed with this couple, things start to spiral.
So it’s a very rare experience to film in a Canadian city, and have it actually portrayed as a Canadian city. Most of the time [in films] we’re pretending that Montreal is New York or… Paris, but to actually film in Montreal and have it portrayed as Montreal felt really special. It was also special to get to be a voice for the city, as someone who lived in Montreal for eight years.
TC: Can you talk to me about your character Ari? What was it like to step into this role?
KKS: I think Ari just immediately spoke to me. The humour that Michael [Mohan] had written into the character was so evident, so I knew I could have fun. The film is suspenseful and can get quite dark, so my character is kind of like the comic relief. She’s also not afraid of being very blunt and speaking her mind. That, as an actor, gives you so much freedom which you don’t necessarily have in the real world.
Also, my character in the film is queer and Cameo Adele who plays my partner is also queer, so the director really went out of his way to prioritize hiring queer people for these parts. There’s a lot of things about this movie that I think felt very authentic for a big film.
TC: In addition to acting and filmmaking, you also started the LGBTQ2S+ group at ACTRA. Could you tell me more about this group?
KKS: We started the LGBTQ2S+ group at ACTRA Montreal, gosh, almost a year and a half ago. We didn’t really have one before, so it’s been really nice to have a community of people that are all part of the LGBTQ2S+ community. We’re there for each other, we have discussions, and we’re also doing a few actions to try and sort of make some progress in the industry.
Right now, we’re working on a better practices document*. The work takes a while, but it’s nice to have that space that can be accessible for people. I feel like that’s something that’s pretty intrinsic to a lot of the work that I do. It feels very relevant in the time and place where we are now in society, to be pushing for certain representation. I also think that’s why the film is so special to me. As a person, I inherently occupy multiple spaces, whether that’s being a woman, or being queer, or half Asian. Often in film, characters are only allowed to do one (role) at once. It was nice to play a role in The Voyeurs that was all the intersections of what I represent and also confident, goofy, and unapologetic.
*This document’s purpose is to present objectives that will make those who identify as LGBTQ2S+ feel safe and acknowledged in the film industry.
TC: What advice do you have for marginalized individuals who are looking to get into the sphere of film?
KKS: I think that it’s very important to have a support system. Also, the internet is a great resource now that wasn’t always there.
The industry is also a lot harder on queer people and people of colour. They get subjected to a lot more criticism, are expected to represent entire blanket communities, and are not allotted the same respect even now. I think you also have to eventually, in some ways, learn to separate the self from the work. If you do take everything so personally it can really wear you down, and it can be a hard industry to maintain your mental health in. Being able to look at something as just work versus your entire identity is very important. But that’s very hard. The work is in your body, with how you look, and all these things, so it’s definitely easier said than done.
TC: In terms of acting, how has it been with the pandemic? Have you taken on any new projects?
KKS: It’s been very interesting. I actually was very fortunate that I was able to work on a DC video game for almost a year, so I had pretty consistent work. It’s called Gotham Knights, and I play Batgirl. So that was really fun! It was also my first video game, so that style of acting is a little bit different than film. I also got to do motion capture and performance capture as well.
I was also shooting the second season of Transplant, which is shot in Montreal. And then I also got […] development funding from the CBC through the Creative Relief Fund for a sitcom that I pitched. Right now, I’m working with my lit[erary] manager and sort of getting that out to networks.
It’s been a weird year, but I think the film industry has managed to maintain a certain level of safety on set. It’s just been a lot of adapting!
The Voyeurs can be streamed on Amazon Prime.
Photo courtesy of Jeremy Cabrera