As Pride month comes to an end, we pay homage to the influence Queer As Folk had on LGBTQA+ culture as well as on the careers of our Members and the landscape of television production in this town. Read below as Queer As Folk Director Kari Skogland and Production Designer Ingrid Jurek reflect on their role on this watershed series.
On the impact Queer As Folk had on their careers
KS: “At the time it was a big American show and I had very few U.S. credits so it really helped me open that door. It also pushed the boundaries on telling the stories of a community that was very under-served at the time, and being involved with cutting edge narrative that was being broadcast on cable TV meant I could also push the boundaries cinematically.”
IJ: “At the time, QAF was not like anything else out there on television. It set out to push boundaries without apology, yet felt grounded in reality. I felt like I was a part of the beginning of the new age of television. Since then, whenever I’m working in the city I try to work with my QAF Art Department team. I’ve also had the good fortune to continue working with creatives from the camera, costumes and lighting department again.”
On creative lessons learned on Queer As Folk
KS: “QAF was a window into a world that most people had very little knowledge of, so it meant creating an authentic depiction and performances that were sympathetic while capturing the humanity of what was still considered an underground community. I looked for performance opportunities and scope, unique locations all while looking for more creative ways of using the camera as an experiential way into their lives.”
IJ: “QAF emphasized the importance of the characters’ worlds when designing the set. I also learned the value of integrating lighting into set design (and not only in nightclubs) and the beauty of darkness to contrast these elements. When we first dressed Church Street, it took several days on lifts to put up all the bulbs and net twinkle lights and a wet down to insure the lighting was reflected in pools on the ground. While Liberty Street in Pittsburgh was going through its own revival at the time, we made our mythical version even more sparkly and magical; a vibrant street where dreams are made.”
Do you think Queer As Folk changed the course of Canadian TV? If so, how?
KS: “QAF changed the course of television because it dramatized a world that popular culture had shunned until then. It was also a critical moment to our industry because this high- profile show was being made in Canada and living up to American standards. And it’s important to remember that shooting up here was a very unpopular choice for the US networks at that time because there was a lot of public push-back on how much work was going across the border.”
IJ: “Because QAF was for Showtime and the showrunners and writers’ room was in LA, I still think of it as a US/ Canadian hybrid. It was the beginning of large, popular US series beingshot in Canada and the stories were being directed by mostly Canadian directors. It was the start of television getting really interesting.”