Empress Blue – music video
A 7 year old boy sits in the back seat of his parents car, driving along Sources Blvd in the West Island, looking out the window. Somewhere along the drive, an old abandoned stone house catches his eye, slightly out of place in this 1988 sprawling Montreal suburb. The boy’s eyes sparkle as dreams of adventures and abandoned treasures crowd his mind. What would he find behind those crumbling cobble walls were he to escape his parents gaze long enough to explore?
The little stone house has long ago been replaced by a series of senior citizens home. This personal memory, however, has been resuscitated through the Empress Theatre’s art-deco facade. On my way to the Loyola campus during my university days, the 105 bus would invariably take a left on Sherbrooke street, hop over the Descarie expressway, and drive past the old abandoned theatre. My childhood desires urged me to explore the intestines of this old Egyptian-style building that closed after a fire back in ’92.
You can imagine how excited I was when the opportunity came up to make a documentary about the building’s past vocations and the current effort by a community organization called Renaissance Empress to turn it into a multidisciplinary cultural center for the NDG community. I will give more info about the documentary when it comes out in the spring. However, in the context of the Empress Theatre documentary, I had the chance to collaborate with Scott MacLeod, a NDG musician, artist, and filmmaker. He wrote the song Empress Blue, which describes the various stages and uses of the Empress Theatre – a film theatre, a showroom, a repertoire cinema – and evokes the hope that the building will find new life. This song became the backbone of the doc and I felt it deserved to have a video to showcase it, as well as the artist who created it.
Here is the music video to the song Empress Blue:
In the end, the ornate walls of the theatre were hiding a lot more than my imagination could dream for. They allowed for a collaboration that I hope can serve as yet another example of the building’s potential.
You can also find out more about the Empress community center here.
Written by G. Scott MacLeod
Performed by G. Scott MacLeod and Paul Cargnello
Sound Engineering by Paul Cargnello
Mixing and Mastering by Stacy Le Gallee
Directed and Edited by Emmanuel Hessler
Cinematography by Seb Rist and Katherine Macnaughton
Produced with the help of Tim Schwab and Paul Aflalo