Montrealer Joseph Antaki Presents His First Feature Film at Image+Nation
He started his career in film as an actor, where he gained a lot of support. “People always told me I had a lot of imagination,” Antaki said.
Later, he contacted a friend who studied in film to help make a pilot of a feature, which he jokes was his master’s in filmmaking since it ended up taking three years.
Antaki co-wrote the feature film Rouge Sang (The Storm Within) two years ago. The film had financing from the Société de développement des entreprises culturelles and a $3-million budget.
His latest feature, My Guys, had a much smaller budget, which limited how much he was able to film. My Guys won Best First-Time Feature at Fort Worth’s Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival.
“When you write the screenplay and you know the budget is $3 million, you write for the scenes you know you can film,” Antaki said. He did not want to make a bad movie, so he had to balance his act.
My Guys is inspired by a novel of the same name that Antaki wrote. The novel was released in June at the same time as the limited release of the film in Montreal at Cinéma du Parc.
Antaki grew up around “fag hags”—a term within the LGBTQ community used to describe women whose close friends are mostly queer men—throughout his life. He thought they were interesting people and wondered if a movie about them had ever been made in Montreal or Quebec. He saw the opportunity to make a “fag hag” the main character and jumped on it.
The main character of the film, Georgette, was not inspired by anyone in particular. However, some of her experiences are based on those of one of his friends’.
Antaki compares the roles of actor and director to night and day. “As a writer, director, producer, casting director, catering service, I had so many hats,” he said. “The biggest challenge was dealing with such a small budget and wanting to [maintain] quality—because of course you can do it on the cheap for nothing, but then it shows.”
The movie was entirely shot in Montreal over two years. Montreal studio Peak Media, itself new to the film production industry, took care of post-production free of charge.
Antaki says that once you produce your first film and show it in theatres, you are eligible for grants by Telefilm Canada. “Making movies is how I spend money and being an actor is how I make money,” he joked, adding that he must be a masochist to enjoy making movies.