Director Samuel Van Grinsven on his coming-of-age drama Sequin in a Blue Room

Cinema Australia Original Content:

Conor Leach in Sequin in a Blue Room.

by Matthew Eeles

First time feature filmmaker Samuel Van Grinsven will premiere his new film Sequin in a Blue Room at this year’s Sydney Film Festival.

Co-written by Van Grinsven and Jory Anast, Sequin in a Blue Room is a stylish coming-of-age drama about Sequin (Conor Leach), a sixteen year old boy who hunts through the world of a hook-up app to track down a mystery man after a chance encounter at an anonymous sex party. Favouring the instant gratification of anonymous, no-strings sexual encounters over meaningful relationships, high schooler Sequin is part of the always logged-on, but never-engaged, hook-up generation.

Van Grinsven, who was twenty five when he made Sequin in a Blue Room, is all too familiar with the world of hook-up app communication having grown up as part of the first generation of young queer people to come-of-age with social media and hookup app communication.

“From Googling what it meant to be gay to joining Gay Teen Chat Rooms and talking to strangers from around the world. From having to learn about gay sex from internet pornography to meeting my first boyfriend on Myspace. Every part of my coming of age as a queer person has been informed by the internet. The good and the bad,” Van Grinsven tells Cinema Australia.

“I grew up faster than the teenagers around me in school. An experience I know a lot of queer people share. Our coming of age walks hand in hand with coming out, and for me that meant the forming of my sexual identity as a constant act of transgression.”

All of this led Van Grinsven to experiences he wasn’t ready for and situations that put him in danger.

“As my cowriter Jory Anast and I started to develop the idea we met with other young queer and non queer people and exchanged our shared experiences. A reoccurring theme amongst us all was this tension between sexual discovery and transgression,” Van Grinsven says.

Samuel Van Grinsven.

“A close friend of mine spoke of their experiences growing up with hookup apps saying, “I can’t believe the situations I put myself in. If I told anyone about it they would tell me how dangerous it could have been. But I did it, then I left, didn’t tell anyone and largely pretended it didn’t happen.” These shared experiences, themes and ideas all went into forming a character, a place and a social app that became the building blocks for Sequin in A Blue Room.”

According to Van Grinsven the experience of Sequin in a Blue Room will be a unique one for audiences.

“The film walks a line between a coming-of-age queer drama and a ticking time bomb thriller,” says Van Grinsven.

“For me, it’s the tension between these two genres that offers a unique screen experience. The two genres compete in the film both in an aesthetic sense but also in a story sense within Sequin in A Blue Room, the protagonist. Throughout the film he is being pulled between his teenage fantasies and cold, hard adult realities.”

Sequin in a Blue Room is produced by accomplished 23-year-old producer Sophie Hattch who will premiere two films at this year’s Sydney Film Festival – Sequin in a Blue Room and director Imogen McCluskey’s Suburban Wildlife.

“Sequin in a Blue Room is a film in which specificity and universality coexist harmoniously,” Hattch tells Cinema Australia about the film.

“It is a queer film, about a young boy within a very specific subculture and environment. But at its heart, it is also a coming-of-age film, a story of first love, innocence lost, of what it means to grow up in a modern world surrounded by people older than you. As a viewer I find myself relating to Sequin’s struggles, his infatuation and obsession, his naivete and eventual heartbreak. Considering how little I have in common with Sequin on a surface level, the fact that I feel such a deep affinity with him proves to me that this story can translate across many ages, genders and sexual orientations. We hope that audiences leave our Sydney Film Festival screenings feeling a similar emotional connection or affinity to our characters and story.”

Sequin in a Blue Room will have its world premiere at the Sydney Film Festival. You can find out more about the screening here

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