When I set out to make this film, I wanted to tell a queer coming of age story, one that truthfully reflected a modern-day experience. A digital coming of age. A world of online instant access and sexual discovery on demand. A world where vastly different experiences of being queer collide within one social app. At its heart, this film is a story of wanting to grow up fast, a story of our fantasies colliding with realities.
The queer community in Australia, much like the rest of the western world, is experiencing a shift, a generational divide. With the sexual fluidity and liberation of the new generation reflecting the limitations imposed on the generations before it. This unique tension served as a foundation for the film as our protagonist hurdles through the intense complexity of his community in the search for love. Due to the political and social circumstances of the times, a large amount of queer films of the past and present have looked outward. Concerned with presenting an image of the queer experience to the outside world. For this film I wanted to look inward, to examine and question a specific part of our community as it is today.
I made this film at twenty-five. I grew up as part of the first generation of young queer people to come of age with social media and hook-up app communication. From Googling what it meant to be gay to joining “Gay Teen Chat Rooms” and talking to strangers from around the world. From having to learn about gay sex from internet pornography to meeting my first boyfriend on Myspace. Every part of my coming of age as a queer person has been informed by the internet. The good and the bad. I grew up faster than the teenagers around me in school. An experience I know a lot of queer people share. Our coming of age walks hand in hand with coming out, and for me that meant the forming of my sexual identity as a constant act of transgression. This led me to experiences I wasn’t ready for and situations that put me in danger.
During the writing process for Sequin In A Blue Room, my co-writer Jory Anast and I met, interviewed and discussed coming of age during this era with other queer people of our generation. It was an incredible feeling to be surrounded by individuals sharing similar experiences. A reoccurring theme amongst us all was this tension between sexual discovery and transgression. A close friend spoke to me of their experiences growing up with hook-up apps saying, “I can’t believe the situations I put myself in. If I told anyone about it they would tell me how dangerous it could have been. But I did it, then I left, didn’t tell anyone and largely pretended it didn’t happen.” These shared experiences, themes and ideas all went into forming a character, a place and a social app that became the building blocks for Sequin In A Blue Room.
THE DIGITAL WORLD ON SCREEN
Bringing that digital world to the screen was a real challenge in a film of this scale and budget. Showing digital interaction on screen is something that the industry has been toying with for over a decade now. Early on I knew I want- ed to push this further than I had seen it done before. My cowriter and I al- lowed for the digital world in the screenplay to be as expansive and complex as it is in reality. This meant stepping beyond just text messages on screen and actively using a full app operating system as part of our story world. This included multiple apps, picture sharing, location sharing, blocking, deleting, searching and more. Everything that has become a part of our daily life in reality. We were so fortunate to be able to work with motion graphics artist Chris Johns to bring this all to life on screen. Chris brought an authenticity to the motion graphics design, drawing on his own experiences of being gay in the digital age to create the graphics of an app that felt at once a part of our reality and the story world of the film.
WRITER/DIRECTOR – SAMUEL VAN GRINSVEN