Filmmaker Mark Pariselli is here with me on WHAT; to discuss his work, visions, and why he loves his craft. If you enjoy independently and uniquely made cinema, this is for you.
— Hi Mark! How are you?
Hi Aidan. I’m doing well, thanks. Currently enjoying the lingering summer weather and gearing up for preproduction on a new queer horror short film.
— How awesome! What better way to end a summer than that.
You’re a filmmaker. Tell me a little about who you are, and how that ties in with your profession.
I am a queer Canadian filmmaker, born and raised in Toronto. I studied film production at York University, graduating Magna Cum Laude. I have been making short films ever since and am developing my first feature.
— We are both Canadian artists. Do you think that differentiates us from American artists, or do you believe being independent is more or less the same wherever you live?
I think emerging and independent Canadian artists may have more access to resources and support than American artists but that does not mean it is much easier being a Canadian artist. It is not easy being an artist anywhere.
— Oh, definitely. I think being an independent artist (or just an artist for that matter) is something that not everyone understands. It’s constant work. Especially when you do most everything on your own. However, the control is nice.
I found out about you through your written piece on Gregg Araki’s “Nowhere.” It really resonated with me. Would you say he is one of the reasons you are interested in filmmaking?
Gregg Araki is definitely a major influence on my work. ‘Nowhere’ particularly opened my eyes and blew my mind as a young teen and I would say his films contributed to my pursuit of filmmaking.
(Thought piece about ‘Nowhere’)
— What was the very first film you created?
The very first film I created was a black and white super 8 film starring my brother as the angel of death visiting my mother on her deathbed.
— Interesting. I’d like to watch that. If you could describe your work in one word, what it would be?
— From watching some of your films, it seems to me that you have a range of styles. Would you say that you have had more than one type of style for your films?
I have experimented with different genres and media, from music videos to installation pieces to narrative films. But I have always loved horror cinema and I think that is reflected in my work. I also foreground queer characters, themes and issues in all my work.
— I admire that. I like that you are able to tie in horror cinema with issues. I think modern-day thrillers/horrors generally shy away from that.
What are you currently working on?
I am currently in the early preproduction stage on an arts council supported, queer horror short film. The film tackles anxieties and fears surrounding parenthood from a queer perspective. Cautioning against conformist pressures and assimilationist aspirations, the film asks: what is the cost of belonging and transforming the self into a relative? What does it mean to be bound by blood?
— Wonderful. See, this proves my point that horror as a genre is not just demons and murderers, but horror is a medium through which we can make social commentary. What you have explained is the new wave of horror to me. For example, how Scream and The Craft revitalized teen horror cinema.
What is one thing you want people to take from your work?
In my work, I try to ask questions for which there are no easy answers and confront issues that are important to my community and me. I hope to emotionally engage viewers while making them think.
— To me, that is real power. Not supplying an easy answer, but making enough of a statement to let the audience go forward and contemplate what they were just shown. That’s what I’m aiming to do with this blog.
Are any of your films currently available on any streaming services?
My short film ‘After’ can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r19ae5Q-4CA, http://firstrunfeatures.com/bestgayshortsdvd.html, my short film ‘Frozen Roads’ can be viewed here: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/bluebriefs/40902740, https://www.amazon.com/Blue-Briefs-Unavailable/dp/B01CVN742A/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1536174979&sr=8-2&keywords=mark+pariselli&dpID=51Ou768QKsL&preST=_SY300_QL70_&dpSrc=srch More work will be available here soon: https://vimeo.com/user1825554
— Thank you for that. I’m glad my audience will be able to see some of what you do.
Do you think that it is getting harder for people who have a certain niche market with their films?
LGBTQ+ focused film festivals, genre film festivals and niche streaming categories are important for representation and access. With these going strong, and websites like YouTube and Vimeo available to upload work, I do not think it is getting harder.
— Agreed. Though I believe that the internet is becoming saturated. But, then again, accessing education and using the internet to share media has allowed us to bypass major companies and funding, making mass media far more accessible.
If any of your films play in Toronto, I would love to go see one! Is there anything else you’d like to say to my audience?
— You’re very welcome! It’s what I’m truly interested in. Good luck on the new project.