Published on September 22nd, 2015 | by Biz Books
The Biz Interview: Katherine Monk
For the last 25 years, Katherine Monk has been a staple in the Vancouver film community as a film critic in print, online, on the radio, and on television.
A loyal supporter of the Vancouver International Film Festival, Katherine Monk gets to attend as a filmmaker in 2015 with the premiere of her new short film, Rock the Box.
Ahead of the premiere, we spoke with Katherine Monk about her new transition from film critic to filmmaker and her new career endeavours.
Why don’t you start by telling us a little bit about what you’re up to these days?
I just launched a new website called The Ex-Press with a clutch of other veteran newspaper colleagues who have given up on corporate media. We had a hugely successful launch in the US with our first print edition on September 20th. Canadian launch to come next month.
Your first film, Rock the Box is premiering at the 2015 Vancouver International Film Festival. What can you share about the experience of making the film?
It feels like I just graduated from film school – even though that was 25 years, and an entire journalism career, ago.
What does it mean to you to have Rock the Box showing at VIFF and how important are film festivals for filmmakers these days?
VIFF Is huge for me. It’s my hometown. It’s where I’m known as a film critic, not a filmmaker. So it’s like starting a whole new life. And festivals will always be important even if they are changing, because filmmakers need community. So much of filmmaking happens in isolation with your team. The only time you realize you made something for other people is when you share it with an audience.
How did you first become interested in and involved with the film industry?
I made Super8 movies with my big sister when we were kids and when I graduated from UBC with a honours undergraduate degree in English Lit, I needed to go back for a second degree because I had been elected city editor of the student paper. I applied to film school and law school. I got into both, but film school seemed like an easier course load. At the time, it was about serving the student paper. But I quickly realized film school was probably more intense than law. But who doesn’t want to make movies?
From your standpoint, what is the current state of the Canadian film industry?
That’s a very, very, very big question. I wrote a whole book about Canadian cinema called Weird Sex & Snowshoes… things have changed since it was published in 2001. Mostly for the better.
What advice do you have for people who are interested in becoming filmmakers?
Focus on your vision, make it because you have to, and don’t pay attention to the negative people. Everyone will tell you it’s impossible and that you are wasting your time.
What about advice for aspiring film critics?
It’s an open ball game now. Anyone can be a critic! You don’t need to know anything at all anymore. Hell, you don’t even have to be able to write. So go for it. See what happens. There’s room for everyone online.
What’s the biggest misconception about film critics?
We’re all fat, unhygienic and male – which for the most part, is true.
How would you sum up the films of 2015 at this point?
Great performances. Mediocre movies.
What are some of the most memorable moments of your career so far?
Over my 25 years as a career journalist, I met everyone I ever wanted to meet, said all the things I felt I had to say, and went to all the places I dreamed of going. My whole life has been one awesome moment after another. Seriously. I’m the luckiest person on the planet.
Who are the Canadian films and filmmakers that you most admire?
I love and admire everyone in this country. Even the ones who write me hate mail regularly.
What books and authors have been influential to you throughout your career?
Goethe, Nietzsche – I had to read a lot of Nietzsche for my Joni Mitchell biography – and Homer. Reading the classics and German philosophy are a great way to find perspective on the daily dose of bulls***. You realize nothing really matters except loving relationships.
Where can we find out more about you and your various projects?
I have my own website, KatherineMonk.com, which I update when something big happens and it’s a sure thing. But The Ex-Press (Ex-Press.com and Ex-Press.ca) are where you can catch up with my exploits, and my writing, on a daily basis.
Our thanks to Katherine Monk for speaking with us!
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