George Karkour aims to spread hope and acceptance with The Shower Song
Ask documentary filmmaker George Karkour, BComm 11, GrDip 13, why he decided to make The Shower Song, an eight-minute musical short film that addresses various social issues, and the Concordia grad sums it up in four words.
“It was a calling,” says Karkour.
“I wrote a song, and I knew exactly what the film would look and sound like. So, I rolled up my sleeves, gathered my team and made it happen.”
The result is a lively romp through the sudsy daydreams of the protagonist, played by Karkour himself. The film may seem light on the surface, but it packs an emotional punch, showing its characters dealing with homophobia, sexism, mental-health issues and even animal cruelty. The song itself serves as a progressive anthem, with lyrics alluding to freedom and self-acceptance.
“I wish we didn’t need projects like this, but they are so needed, because hatred and ignorance are all around us,” says Karkour. “I want the audience to come out with the feeling that even though life is hard, it can be beautiful. In the film’s universe, there’s bigotry and even death, but there’s also hope and magic — the sort of emotions that lift you up.”
It took three years for Karkour to bring the project to life, working with musician William Gaboury and with the resources of OK George! Studio, Karkour’s media-production agency. The film premiered in July at Montreal’s Cinéma du Parc, accompanied by an hour-long making-of video that delved into deeper meanings and behind-the-scenes challenges. The Shower Song is also an official selection of the Image+Nation LGBT2SQUEER film festival, taking place this month.
As an independent producer, Karkour’s current focus is on promotion, which requires a substantial amount of funding, and on continuing to grow his company.
Keys to success
With a business degree and Graduate Diploma in Communication Studies from Concordia, Karkour recognizes the influence of his education on his career path. His major in marketing trained him in the fundamentals of business, including invaluable organizational skills.
“It taught me to have an entrepreneurial mindset,” he says. “It also gave me a strong framework as a producer.”
The Communication Studies program allowed Karkour to try his hand at media-making through courses in sound production, semantics and storytelling.
“It was an entry point to a creative world,” he says. “It gives you just enough to really empower you, almost like being given a set of keys. It’s then up to you to use them to open the door that attracts you the most.”
His most formative university experience, however, happened outside of the classroom, when Karkour spent six months in Amsterdam as part of the Concordia Student Exchange Program (CSEP). Describing his time there as “magical and unique,” he reminisces about the iconic city’s cultural enrichment and making international friends.
“I highly recommend going on exchange. Especially when you’re young, you need it,” he states. “It really unlocks something in you.”
Karkour also recommends that aspiring filmmakers stay organized, patient and persistent, while recognizing the realities of the business. As filmmaking remains an expensive activity, he stresses the need the have a safety net. A stable job in a field such as marketing, which requires creativity, could fit the bill.
“Be entrepreneurial — it doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice your artistry.”