Mr. Saul’s Definitive Portrait Of His Family

super-8 film, 11 minutes, 2005 (additional images 1, 2, 3, 4)

When Seema Goel came to do studio visit with me to discuss work to show at the MacKenzie Art Gallery, I presented her with a number of things I was doing, including my work with super-8. She was intrigued with the super-8 and its discussion of masculinity. I created a four reel Mr. Saul that ran on an old television set with rabbit ears and an old stand leveled with a book of matches.

This is the second and longest of the Mr. Saul's Utopia series.


Roll 1

Hello and welcome.
My name is Mr. Saul. I am glad that you could join me in viewing some of my movies.
Let me begin by telling you a bit about the marvel of movie making. The fellow in the camera shop where I purchased this super-8 camera and the film to load into it was very clear about the importance of maintaining utmost control in the creation of a truly great movie like these that I have made. It will not do for people to be running around willy nilly, ruining film that I have spent my hard earned money on. Now I don't know about the rest of you, but I've had enough of the irresponsible actions of disrespectful individuals that lead, be it directly or indirectly, to the disruption of my time and my financial solvency. You must understand that when I grew up, there was certainly no tolerance of such frivolous activities.
Of course, it is naturally my responsibility to maintain a similar discipline over my own family.
As you can see, the activities that I allow my wife and my son William to participate in are well controlled. I know that some of you may be questioning my standards, asking if perhaps tobogganing, or as some may refer, sledding, is not redeemable. However, one must not forget the valuable lesson that high speed collisions have on building character in young men.
Oh, I see we have passed a very important moment that I wish to draw your attention to. It seems that some protestors had gathered about one darn thing or another and had collected together with signs and, in a few cases, children. I had to stop and make it clear to them the detrimental effect that this reckless outburst of free speak would have on the young impressionable minds present. Without proper control, these very children may grow up to have values different from mine. Perhaps they would even start to believe that they can alter the decisions of our duly elected government. If libraries and art galleries need to be closed down, then they need to be closed down. To doubt these officials that you, yourself, elected, is to doubt yourself, something else I will not tolerate.

Roll 2

As you can see, that roll, or in some ways, that chapter, has ended and another is beginning. This is the Calgary zoo. Understand that it is not a matter of going there that is important to me, but it is seeing my family there and knowing that my duty is fulfilled by bringing them there that is truly important.
Children like animals. It is important that all boys see lions on a regular basis. Their regal power teaches the boys how to be rulers of the jungle. When visiting the zoo, one must remember to keep boys near the carnivores such as the lions, the tigers, and the elephants. Girls may look at the zebras and kangaroos. For obvious reasons, giraffes must be avoided.

Well, if I could stop the movie here I would. What you all just missed was a particularly interesting moment where an entertainer, if own could call him that, attempted to bend balloons into the shape of some of the displayed beasts but, due to some mismanagement within the zoo's human resources department, this employee was clearly not up to the job. The hippopotamus appeared to be, well, I will just say it was a ... disappointment. Had it not been suggested that the camera be left behind in the trunk of the car after our delicious picnic lunch of egg salad sandwiches and carrot sticks, then you each may have seen this embarrassment. However, that image now only exists in my memory.
But let us not dwell on what will be forgotten but rather on the truths before us. It is my observation that children have animals inside of them. The challenge for us fathers is to recognise what animal that our child is, and to use that knowledge to gain the respect we deserve from the child. At the zoo I determined that William is a dragon, much like those that lived thousands of years ago. The brontosaurus exhibit allowed me to demonstrate my expert knowledge of these huge green creatures.

Roll 3

Clear throat.
Another roll of film and, perhaps, another roll for us to play. Observe as things unfold. Evidently my son, seen here in the viral green suit, has embraced his animal self which has thus given him the necessary edge to assume the role fo dominate male within his social collective. The parade was neither an announcement nor a declaration of this status, it stood solely as a moment that clarified what was.

Here we are on the farm.
For those of you watching who are in the know, the secret we were keeping on this weekend could not be more obvious in this sequence.
Let me point out how I took the suggestion from the fellow in the camera shop who, I might add, has a son of his own, as I use diverse and complex camera techniques such as the "cut" and the "changing of angles" to bring life to this otherwise dreary event. When I recall how difficult it was trying to rein in the inappropriate ogling of the camera, I feel that no one recognized the sacrifice I made in creating this movie, rather than harvesting these potatoes ... or planting them, or whatever it was they are doing.
Believe me when I say that the presence of so many children is very fulfilling to me. I have been told, and not just on one occasion, that I am fundamentally a child at heart. That is why, even though he begged me for a Batman cake, William must have a dragon cake. I know what is best for him. Were it not for the searing migraines it tends to trigger in me, I'd even have tried a piece of it myself. Of course, it is certainly of concern that this sort of behaviour be limited to birthdays, of which this is Williams fourth, and to Victoria Day.

Roll 4

When I travel, it is appropriately beneficial that I take my family along. Watch closely and you will see them amongst these important people. They certainly get a lot out of seeing what I do. It is crucial for them to see that I also have a serious side.
These people also make movies and, so I am told, also often make use of the tricks such as "depth of field" and "focal length". It is this set of skills that sets us apart from normal people and bourdons us with the responsibility of making and presenting movies such as this one to you., my beloved friends and neighbours.

Naturally we accept our lot and, joyless as it may seem, find what pleasure we can through this process. Remember that the camera used to make this movie has over ten buttons on it and, were it not for automatic exposure controls, getting an appropriately lit image would be nearly impossible. I once found my wife reading the instruction booklet for the camera and so I swiftly took them from her and saved her from her foolish curiosity.

Um, this appears to be another zoo. Was anybody watching? Was there a sign or anything? Well, if there are polar bears it is probably Toronto.

When I look at how happy my family look in my movies, I know that I have done everything right.

Thank you.