Regina, Treaty 4: Gerald Saul


(Photo by Gerald Saul, Intro by Chrystene Ells)

Gerald Saul is a distinguished and extremely prolific experimental filmmaker, whose substantial output over several decades might best be thematically collected as taking place in a slightly surreal universe just adjacent to everyday life. As viewers of Gerald’s films, we are invited to step to the side of the narrative and enter the parallel story in the playful universe next door. Carl Jung said, “the creative mind plays with the things it loves,” and the creative mind of Gerald Saul plays eagerly with all of the possibilities of the postmodern cinematic medium.
In addition to his considerable legacy as an independent filmmaker, Gerald has served on boards of local arts organizations, including the Saskatchewan Filmpool Cooperative, and, most recently, the Cabinet Collective, where he is co-artistic director of Regina’s upcoming Caligari Project, a giant 4-month long celebration of German Expressionism in all its forms. Gerald is a generous teacher, a warm-hearted and hilarious person, a natural silent film actor, a friend to animals and everyone else, a storyteller, a prolific artist, a renowned baker, a devour-er of art and cinema, an explorer, a scholar, and a vital force in the creative community of Regina. He also has excellent taste in boots.

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

I am neck deep in German Expressionism, helping to organize a multi-disciplinary, multi-month art festival as well as make two or maybe even three films to show during it. On top of that, my first solo gallery exhibition closes this weekend and I will then have to find places to put all that stuff.

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

I am a film professor at the University of Regina. There are so many things to like about it, but mainly the interaction with the students. On some days I could talk to one student after another about their ideas, giving them suggestions about story, themes, technique, or whatever. Like anyone, I have had my fair share of regular jobs, from serving drinks or sitting in an office to digging holes and mopping floors. These sorts of jobs take only a limited time to master and then boredom sets in. I like being bored, it helps stir my imagination. For at least eight months of the year, the university does not let me get bored. It is not a job that I will ever master because there are always more new ideas and approaches to tackle. Therefore, it is the very nature of the challenge of the job which makes it difficult but satisfying.

KC: What’s important to you?

When I am making yet another of my oddball videos, I sometimes feel like I wouldn’t even want to finish it if I didn’t have my son around to watch it. He has become my primary audience (as well as frequent collaborator and performer). He also bores easily, so I need to be prolific.

KC: What do you like most/least about Regina?

The Riders. I’ve not been to a Rider game in decade and generally don’t care about them at all. The crowds and the noise and press all annoy me on a daily basis for a few months of the year, but I am also very impressed and amused by the manic obsession that this team evokes in the city. They make people happy and not ashamed of living here. Many years ago on my first trip to Toronto, I was at a comedy club and the standup asked where people in the audience were from. Some poor schmuck across the room said he was from Regina and the audience almost orgasmed over the ten minutes of razzing the comic made over this city. While I have to admit that I laughed with everyone else, I also began to realize how cruel all forms of prejudice is. All cities are crappy in their own ways. All people are crappy in their own ways. Sports are particularly crappy. However, if we can’t let people be happy with where they are and what they are doing, then who is the villain?

KC: What is your impression of Saskatoon?

I like the restaurants and the Roxy Theatre. We come to town every time the SSO (Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra) plays live music with a film there (Silence is Golden silent film events). I lived in Saskatoon for a couple of months when I was working on “Christmas at Wapos Bay” but between the long days and my need to return to Regina every weekend (this was during the two months before my son was born), I didn’t do much other than walk around. I tended not to go out at night because driving was such a pain.

KC: How do you survive the winters?

What is the option? I suppose that I don’t go out as much. Once I’m at work, I stay there until it is time to go home. Generally, now that my son has outgrown the toboggan, I don’t do any “winter activities”.

From the Proust Questionaire: Who is your hero of fiction?

“Kilgore Trout” from numerous early novels by Kurt Vonnegut. I’m not sure if he is a hero or not, but he is a hero to me.  Kilgore Trout was a fictitious science fiction writer who wrote  hundreds of stories, sent them to publishers, but never kept track of them himself. I would love to live with this level of creative output and with such little ego. On my website, I obsessively list every pathetic little video or comic strip or hairball I regurgitate into the world. I would adore thinking that I could have an obsessed fan tracking my career, but I am already that person. To live with the sole ambition of expression without need for recognition is magical to me.