Ephemera (for RM Vaughan)

Here’s a short film I made recently in memory of R.M. Vaughan, poet/writer/filmmaker/visual artist/critic/collaborator.

Richard Vaughan and I made twelve (I think) short films in the 90’s in Toronto. Many of them shot on Super 8, the first ones edited on analogue at Trinity Square Video, some of the Super 8’s edited in camera. Lots of times we’d recruit Laura Cowell on camera, and sometimes Roy Mitchell. There was one we made for Splice This! Festival where I did the audio and Richard shot the footage and only at the screening did we see it come together for the first time.

Richard was great at initiating projects and, through his vast and ever-growing circle of friends and colleagues, finding opportunities to screen our work. He’d hand me a poem and give me a deadline. At the time, a lot of it seemed random and rushed, but looking back I cherish the ephemeral nature of it, the ease, and having someone who wanted to make things with me. I was never quite sure why he chose me to work with and, to be honest, I don’t know why we stopped.

When I found out he’d died, I went to look through my box of our films and tapes. So much of it needs attention – mini DV tapes and BETACAM SP and VHS copies. And then there were loads of Super 8 reels that I started feeding through my projector. Some of them were originals of our films, some were reels from other projects – I even found some footage from my parents honeymoon. I was hoping to find some forgotten outtakes with Richard appearing, a bonus surprise incarnation that would counter the loss of his real self. Nothing like that was there, in fact there was no footage of Richard at all. I was the actor, the ham, the drag queen. His voice, reciting or singing, accompanied on the soundtracks.

There was a reel of footage I remember shooting but have no idea why, footage of Toronto, lingering shots of cute boys, faces of passersby full of intention, going somewhere or going nowhere. I shot the projection on my phone and started editing, adding words that popped into my head that express, in an abstract, RM Vaughan poetic kind of way, my scattered, shattered feelings.