Picture Perfect: Shine Louise Houston’s Snapshot

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Picture Perfect: Shine Louise Houston's Snapshot

Director Shine Louise Houston – one of the current crop of pioneers in erotic queer cinema – has already given so much in the span of her career. Her films have screened across the globe, have received numerous awards, and appear frequently in academic work and sexuality textbooks. Shine has taken her life and experiences – her sexuality and racial background – and brought it to the big screen, delivering consistent, surprising, emotional and sexual results. What’s not to love?!

Through Pink and White Productions, Shine has directed The Crash Pad (2005), Champion (2008) and more; coming on in leaps and bounds in the process. Now, she is looking strike out even further with her first independently produced feature film – Snapshot.

Crowdfunding for Snapshot is well under way, and just under $15,000 has been raised. With seven days left before the deadline, it’s time to give Shine and Snapshot a final push towards and over the line. “But why?” you might ask. Snapshot isn’t just another movie from another director. The themes woven into the pattern speak to the individuals and groups for whom the weight of history lies heavy across their shoulders and has – to the shame and detriment of people who can actually use their brains and suss out the world around them – marginalized some to the point where it feels like they may not or never exist.

Snapshot wants to subvert the typical ‘coming out narrative’ and flips that against the backdrop of a slow-burning thriller. The story is set in San Francisco, where our young lead, Charlie, discovers that she may have accidentally photographed a murderer. Her pursuit of the mysterious figure in her photo causes her to meet Danny, an older Butch, setting into motion an odd romance. Snapshot shakes up the narrative by having Danny – the older character – explore new desires unlocked by younger Charlie. It tends to be the other way around. It’s the little things that can make a big difference.

BaDoink managed to grab Shine – busy of schedule – for a brief chat about Snapshot and her career.

What finally convinced you to make the leap into Snapshot, your first independently produced feature film?

I’ve been writing Snapshot for the last four years and I feel like it’s finally ready for production. It’s been a while since I’ve made a feature and I’m ready for a new challenge.

The plot of Snapshot may surprise casual onlookers/outsiders with its intricacy. Were there any particular inspirations you had when it came to scripting and piecing together the film?

There are two main points of inspiration: Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window and Antonioni’s Blow Up. I started writing Snapshot after I had a fun conversation about media and memory; how media shapes our experiences and how our experiences change our understanding of images over time.

Are there any parts of the film that recall any of your own life experiences?

There are lots of my own experiences that are fictionalized in Snapshot. Charlie is a voyeur so I identify with her ambivalence about sex. Both Charlie and Danny aren’t static characters. They’ve changed in the past and in Snapshot here’s another point of change. I think there’s not just a single coming out in ones life, at least that’s been my experience.

You are keen to emphasise that Snapshot wants to ‘flip’ the coming out narrative. Instead of a younger person latching onto a more experienced cohort it is the older one exploring this new path. Why the conscious effort to do this?

As Hitchcock might say I’m trying to avoid the cliché while also touching on a scenario thats less talked about. Mainly a coming that isn’t centered around gender expression. I’d also like to acknowledge that coming out isn’t always a big to do.

We’d love to know a little of your background. How did you come to be the reputable person and director you are today?

I received my BFA from San Francisco Art Institute then wound up working at Good Vibrations for about five years and while I was having a career crisis many door opened up for me to create Pink and White Productions and to start producing movies. From there it’s history… !

Assuming Snapshot is a success, where do you see your self heading personally and professionally as a consequence; bigger and better? Are there any particular ambitions/dreams you have yet to pursue?

Ha, I think we’ve always been shooting of bigger an better if you look at the progression of our movies. But yes I plan on tackling modernizing a Greek myth for my next project including other smaller projects along the way.

How has the crowdfunding response been thus far?

So far so good. We haven’t been kicked off of Indiegogo. Our fan base is also new to us working this way but I think we’ve had a good amount of support so far. I’m sure we’ll do it again.

With mainstream pornography in receipt of sceptical attitudes and thoughts – despite it dominating the landscape – has there been a better time for fem/alt/queer porn to make the breakthrough it deserves? Moreover, will there ever be such a time? What do you feel it would take to push the work created by you and your contemporaries into such a ‘popular’ sphere?

I think more exposure is a must if this type of porn is going to make a significant impact in the industry. So far we have seen some progress like Xbiz having a feminist porn category in their awards and the fact that we had an AVN nomination for our last feature Champion. But I still feel that the larger market still doesn’t know about most of the work that is being made by so many talented film-makers who work on the outskirts of the adult industry.

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