Trying to figure out what to do with CLMOOC is a challenge each time (here is how I started in 2015 and how I began in 2014. The easiest thing for me to is to write. It’s a muscle that I exercise every day and I enjoy the practice and creating things by arranging words. The key is to get things done and to move on to the next thing without spending too much time getting caught up in what you are going to do. The key is to learn and connect, so that is what I will do.
I’m Chris Campbell and I teach at the Nova Scotia Community College in the Screen Arts program. My usual job is to help people make films with my focus mainly on the producing and postproduction aspects of making films. It’s been a challenging year for the film industry in Nova Scotia with the important tax credit program dramatically reduced by the provincial government and a number of people leaving the province for work elsewhere as things shrunk. I was glad to be granted a year-long learning leave which gave me the opportunity to reconnect with the film industry, colleagues, graduates as well as to work on a number of films.
For the first time in long time (decades, actually) I wasn’t teaching in a classroom in the fall. It was a strange feeling and every day I had the sense that I’d slept in or missed something. Setting my own schedule and filling my day with research and connecting with filmmakers has been a remarkable experience. It was also an opportunity to reflect on teaching without the daily pressure of being in the classroom and to exercise some other muscles without the structure of the semester or the daily commute (which is 100 km each way).
I was able to more deeply engage with the Atlantic Film Festival in Halifax in September of 2015 with a guide to the festival and daily reviews (Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7, and Day 8) of pretty much everything I watched and a summary of the best of the festival. There were a lot of films to see and in the cycle that I established of watching and reviewing it was a more intense experience that left a more public record of my experience and allowed me to connect more with other people at the festival too.
I presented at the BlogJam conference in Halifax where I reflected on 13 years of blogging. It was a great one-day conference filled with creative people sharing their love of blogging. It was inspiring and energizing.
With the Silver Wave Film Festival in Fredericton, New Brunswick I dove in completely as one of the programmers to help choose films for the festival. I was able to spend a few weeks working in the office preparing for the festival and during the festival to organize and help filmmakers get their work seen and to allow the public to share the love of film. Working with friends at the NB Filmmakers Co-op was a reconnection with where I started making films as well as teaching workshops which gave me valuable experience before I became a full-time teacher.
At the summit of Mount Carleton
I biked and walked a lot (with over 1400 kms of biking this season so far) as I was able to establish a nice routine with morning writing and work with getting outside part of every day. There was a lot less driving which I appreciate so much. There is a lot that you miss in a commute every day. With control of my own schedule I was also able to take a few trips and was able to take short excursions through New England (with stops in Vermont, Western Massachusetts, and Maine) and to hike up a couple of mountains in New Brunswick.
With the time saved from not commuting I was also able to cook a lot more and be healthier with the food that I cooked. My bread baking moved to the next level as I made some sourdough starter from scratch and started baking things with it. It’s a lot more work to make bread in a more traditional way, but it tastes great and I enjoy the process. There is a sequence of steps that you follow all while paying attention to the details. An interaction between what you need to do every time and watching what happens as things progress. That’s what teaching in and that’s one of the best things to happen during my learning leave in having the opportunity to take a bit of time and be a bit more present to see what is around me and how things change and grow.