Your new movie Montréal
Girls - in a few words, what is it about?
follows a Middle-Eastern young man’s journey and his quest for love and
enlightenment while discovering his true calling along the way. It’s
the first feature film ever made with Chi Energy in history.
were your sources of inspiration when writing Montréal
Girls, and is any of it based on personal experiences?
inspiration for Montréal
came from my intention to tell uplifting stories that explore universal
themes which connect audiences and incite a spark for change. Storytelling
is a holistic process for me. It’s grounded by characters who must
confront and overcome complex mundane obstacles to transcend their
ordinary selves and connect to a higher purpose.
with that in mind that Montréal
came to be,
as its story and characters are inspired by cowriter Kamal John Iskander’s
[Kamal John Iskander
interview - click here] and my own personal
experiences. The Montréal nightlife and the female leading characters, Désirée
and Yaz, are inspired by my own journey,
from when I was a young Montréal girl and artist, navigating my
hometown’s subcultures and indie rock'n’roll scene, as a
documentarian, photographer and insider. The
lead character, Ramy, is based on Kamal’s own Middle Eastern background
and cultural upbringing.
can you tell us about your co-writer Kamal John Iskander, and what was
your collaboration like?
is a very funny person. He always makes me laugh! I guess that his quirky,
absurd and dark sense of humor is what appeals to me in our collaboration,
as I’m a more lyrically earnest storyteller. We blended our two styles
to create the world Montréal
around, with the right dose of balance and tone. We started working
together in 2011 when he first asked me about Montréal girls and what
they were like. The intention was to make a super low budget indie
feature, all in black and white, about the punk rock scene in Montréal
which features a Middle Eastern protagonist… The story and characters
that we know in the finished film today grew from that initial raw idea.
You have worked with Kamal John
Iskander before - so what can you tell us about your previous
collaborations, and how did you two first meet even?
met at Worldfest (Houston International Film Festival) in 2010. Our
two shorts of the time (mine being Day Before Yesterday and
his Jesus Comes to Town)
were touring at the same time and we ended up seeing each other at many
other film festivals for the following year.
and I had also worked together on a horror comedy short film, A
which he wrote and I directed and produced [Patricia
and John's A Tricky Treat interview - click here]. The short had enormous
success, premiering at Fantasia to a packed theatre, and winning countless
awards at various horror competitions such as
awards for Best Short Film, Best Director, Best Editing and VFX at the
Macabre Faire Film Festival, to name a few. Even
after 7 years, the short is still securing screenings at film festivals.
friendship and professional admiration for each other’s work and ethics
blossomed from those personal and work encounters, and the rest is history.
to Montréal Girls:
I've read that this is the first feature film ever made with Chi Energy
- for the uninitiated, could you elaborate on this, and how did you
stumble upon/develop that method even?
was during my twenties that I began using energy in my work as a director.
Throughout my life, I have trained with masters that focus on mind and
body integration practices ranging from meditation, kundalini yoga, reiki,
shamanism, body expression, power play, and much more. After more research
into these practices, I began to develop my own method, Chi Energy, that
incorporates the tools and techniques from each of these disciplines to
create a coherent system that is customized to serve entertainment
industry professionals – actors, directors, writers, producers and crew
members in particular.
Energy is a very unique method that connects one’s energy centers with
their intuition, mindset, language, state of flow, and body expression in
order to expand their creative potential, as a performer or storyteller,
and to reach their desired outcome faster.
I designed a rigorous training program for my cast. Some weeks, we trained
for up to 15 hours, tapping into each chakra, removing any limiting
belief, and releasing any blockages in the subconscious mind or nervous
system. Chi Energy allowed my actors to be present and in the moment by
honoring the different demands and letting go of any expectations to allow
those connections to happen organically. By surrendering to the process
and trusting their intuition and body, it allowed them to foster the
creation of the character and performance with a blank slate.
is a short documentary called CHI ENERGY - The Making of Montréal
Girls by Noa Blanche Beschorner showing this entire process, which will
come out at the same time as the feature film.
Energy, what can you tell us about your directorial approach to your
story at hand?
point of view of Montréal
is from a foreign male protagonist, although the point of view of the
filmmaker is by myself, a local female director from Montréal. I wanted
the tone to be intimate and poetic yet to convey an impressionistic
palette of colors, lighting, and textures. I wanted to have atmospheric
settings shadowing nature’s elements as the backdrop between emotional
drama, sensuality, and oneiric stages.
is a story of a young man’s experience in early adulthood that I believe
will move people of all ages. I intend to leave the spectator with an open
ending that will give them latitude to find their own interpretation and
conclusion based on their own expectations. I want the audience members to
come to terms with their own reflection of who they are through the
journey they’ve just witnessed.
Do talk about Montréal
Girls' key cast, and why exactly these people?
had a very particular image in mind for Ramy, the leading role. I
visualized a charismatic Middle Eastern man in his early twenties with
thick dark hair, deep eyes and a certain prudish naivete about him. I
auditioned hundreds of candidates across Canada – particularly from
Quebec –, Hollywood, and even the Middle East. It wasn’t until I came
across Canadian-Algerian actor Hakim Brahimi’s profile on Instagram
that I felt I was getting close.
actor in the film was carefully curated by me through self-tapes,
auditions, and in-depth interviews and chemistry tests. I wanted to make
sure that each actor was open to working with Chi Energy during the
rehearsal process and on set.
was important for me and my co-creator Kamal to have a diverse cast as
well as have the film in three languages – English, Arabic and French
– to reflect the rich diversity found within our own lives.
few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
began filming during the first pandemic’s lockdown, which made it
extremely difficult to shoot intimate scenes where the actors had to
create a physical and emotional connection. I quickly had to come up with
tools that would help support the actors to convey that closeness even
when they had to wear masks and stand six feet apart from each other.
the actors arrived on set each morning, we worked with Chi Energy to
create that space of connection and foster an environment of absolute
trust between the actors and myself as the director. Through this process,
that level of trust was created to the point where I was confident that
between “action" and “cut”, the scene was theirs and there was
nothing else I could have done at that point. All I could do was to send
out my support, and it was incredible to witness the change and confidence
they gained as they embraced the method.
$64-question of course, where can Montréal
Girls be seen?
the festival circuit and theatrical commercial release in Canada in the
spring of 2023 via our distributor Filmoption International. The film will
also be presented in Los Angeles as the closing night film of the Los
Angeles International Film Festival, which happens during the American
Anything you can tell us about
audience and critical reception of Montréal
far it’s been very positive and supportive. We have only gotten
enthusiastic reviews -
by the critics, some 5-stars and 8/10 ratings and fresh tomatoes on
RottenTomatoes.com. I’m very grateful for that.
Any future projects you'd like to
Soleil & Luna is a dramatic LatinX and LGBTQ+ TV series that I have created for
It has received support from the Canada Media Fund.
Bougainvillea is a queer romance drama with a hint of fantasy that I’m currently
writing with the support of SODEC.
Your/your movie's website, social media, whatever
Girls’ website: www.MontrealGirlsMovie.com
official website: www.PatriciaChica.com
production company Flirt
Chi Energy Coaching site: www.TheChicaMethod.com
and my journey as a filmmaker can be found on my social
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely
forgotten to ask?
often ask me for advice about how to thrive in the industry. I tell them
to listen to their intuition, trust their gut feeling, ignore the
naysayers and always take action, fast. Execute
your vision at three levels higher, three steps ahead and three layers
deeper than most people. It will make you a more conscious and evolved
creator. I call it the 3-3-3’s. Ask
less; offer more. When you’re the one bringing the most value, you’ll
always be abundant and never run out of resources. And,
always be aware that your energy is your most valuable currency.
Thanks for the interview!