by Jesse Birch
JB: Training a Fool is Not a Joke was structurally and aesthetically based on Rodney Graham’s 1997 Vexation Island, but there were other influences as well. Can you talk about the different elements that informed the production?
BL: I had two major influences for this film that predated Vexation Island.
The first is my neighbourhood here in Kerrisdale. After living away from it for 12 years I am back living at the house where I grew up in the ’80s and ’90s. I see a lot of changes in the neighbourhood, and all are related to the rise in property values. A lot of people who have lived here for a long time are taking advantage of the market and selling their homes and making quite a bit of money. The general result of this is that the old houses are all being torn down. If you walk around every day you see changes happening frequently here. It is quite crazy. This house where we shot TAFINAJ is just a block away from my parents’ home where I’m living now. With this film I wanted to be able to preserve at least one of the homes in the neighbourhood, because when things go I find it is hard to remember them without imagery. It is a house that my friends and I used to skateboard in front of every lunch hour and evening when we were in high school.