Montreal: Emily Gan

photo by Guzzo Desforges, intro by Jennifer Sparrowhawk

photo by Guzzo Desforges, intro by Jennifer Sparrowhawk

I recently met Emily at a show at Montreal’s Casa Del Popolo. Our encounter was brief but the impression she left was that of a smart, interesting, ambitious, kind human. I very much look forward to seeing her documentary Cavebirds once it’s completed. Saskatchewan, please meet Emily.

KC: What kinds of projects are you involved in right now?

Right now, I am editing my first feature documentary, CAVEBIRDS. The main players in the film are my dad, my extended family in Malaysia, and a type of bird called the swiftlet bird whose nests are made entirely out of spit. The film is shot mostly in Malaysia and partly in Montreal. With all the footage I gathered, the editing is like writing a visual essay. It’s exciting to be at a stage where things are coming together and I can ignore administrative things for the time being. I’m having fun with it.

My other projects seem too abstract to describe. For now, they exist more as conversations I have over coffee, foot baths and email.

KC: What’s your day job? What do you like about it? What’s challenging?

I am a yoga teacher (Naada Yoga) and I am a freelancer in photography and video. I like working on other people’s projects. On the yoga front, there is a lot of support and respect felt from colleagues and peers. I think every teacher has to deal with the monotony of repetition, but quickly realize how crucial (and un-boring) repetition is. Practice practice practice… Do do do…. Same thing in freelancing. As a freelancer, you have to put in the time, the work, and the hustle. These days, I’m laying low. Knowing when and how to say ‘no’ is hard. But then, the fact that I have something to say 'no’ to is encouraging.

KC: What’s important to you?

Staying motivated. Quality of life. Fostering healthy relationships. Having a backbone. Being in love.

KC: What do you like most about Montreal?

Montreal is home. It’s pretty. It’s moody. It’s walkable. But I have to admit that the best thing about Montreal is the mechanical bull at Chez Serge. It’s wild. (This answer is a shout-out to Guzzo: fellow Montrealer and photographe extraordinaire who took the photo of me)

What do you like least about Montreal?

The mechanical bull at Chez Serge… (haha?) Indeed, I agree with Clark: our crumbling infrastructure is not something to be proud of. Plus it is so SO easy to hate Montreal winters. But then, without our bitter winters, the summers would not smell as sweet.

KC: What is your impression of Saskatchewan?

I’ve never been to Saskatchewan, let alone the Prairies! My father, went to the University of Saskatoon before he moved to Montreal. He told me about the snow and cold winters. He took photographs of christmas lights. I imagine wind and wheat and grass and big skies. Colour: gold. Looking at Saskatchewan on a map, I always notice the very straight borderlines. In grade school, to memorize the capital of each province, I used two mnemonics for Saskatchewan: “in the alphabet, ’s’ follows 'r’” and “it rhymes with vagina.” My 9-year-old self smugly thought Quebec was the best (!) when she learned that it is the largest Canadian province… in land mass (whoopty doo). I definitely had an odd sense of pride at that age… After all, bigger isn’t always better… ;)

KC: (from the Proust questionnaire) What is your greatest fear?

I’ll answer this in haiku form:

I do not want to
forget. Or be forgetful
Or be forgotten