Eclectic. That is how I would describe my 72hrs in Toronto. I arrived at my Air B n B just in time for bed Saturday night. Sunday morning, bleary eyed and wondering why I still am so flummoxed by a 2 hour time difference, I made my way to LIFT for a full day of learning about Documentary Editing. The course was not software focused but rather theory and process of creating a story in documentary.
I learned lots and was struck by how editing seems to be that strange combination of requiring creative and artistic vision to create the story and sew together something visually and aurally stimulating, combined with incredible organization and attention to detail required for managing footage, transcripts, and then putting it together in the editing suite. In my old life as a project manager I got to do the organization and attention to detail but was missing out on the artistic elements, so this will be good, I thought.
I understand the theory of story development in documentary film but at the moment and still a bit rabbit in the headlights. I keep thinking with a longer film you have time to develop the story, characters and sub-plots; in a short which I intend to do all that has to be compressed and I don’t yet understand how the traditional narrative arc can be developed in that short time. This was making me feel a little bit anxious but, fortunately, I seemingly pre-empted this when creating my learning plan as in my forthcoming module have planned to watch a number of non-fiction shorts understanding how the storyline is developed, tension created and resolved in just a few minutes. When I get back to Edmonton this will be my first task, after first reading some background texts.
Monday afternoon, with my researcher hat on, I went to a Canadian Knowledge Transfer and Exchange Community of Practice seminar by Tamika Heiden. I admire Tamika’s different take on KT and how she thinks there is a place for entrepreneurs to be involved, so was excited to listen to her talk. Before coming to Toronto this time, I had been in full researcher mode having just conducted some research and submitted my research report on the key elements in producing film about health research which make it capable of instigating change or action. Some of Tamika’s thoughts on the use of KT to create impact resonated well with my key findings around the KT aspects giving me confidence that I am on the right track.
I am proud of the research study that I have conducted in the first couple of months of this year and feel that I have a good basis of information to carry me forward and test out during the rest of my Master’s. To a certain extent though, I know that I am only just scratching the surface of what could be known in this area. Sitting back in a lecture theatre with academics, I had a slight “what I am doing?” moment. Should I be trying to make this transition to filmmaker or should I be doing more research in this area after my Master’?
I didn’t dwell on this too long though because after the seminar it was off for a bite to eat (alone, seemingly I nearly always eat alone in Toronto) and then to Leslieville for the Raindance Booze and Schmooze. I got to meet all kinds of interesting people including foley artists, graphic designers, sound engineers, actors, editors, writers etc. and put on yet a different hat…
Okay, that is a hat that is in the Raindance office which I have been dying to wear all year and tonight I got my chance 😀
But the hat that I was wearing was that of the student interested in film looking to make a scary career transition. As I have been to more of these events, networked with people, randomly talked to my Uber driver, I feel that I have got a good patter down on what the value of film could be in the knowledge translation arena, explaining why it is important, the kind of impacts I would be hoping for, the audiences to target etc. I think I am on the right path, and I have the rest of my Master’s to figure out lots of things I don’t yet know (and well forever more because everyday is a school day).
Riding the street car back to my air b n b (which in reality was about 40 minutes but felt like forever), I reflected on the multiple hats, and eclectic nature of my visit. I like having multiple hats, I like a range of different things to do, I like being able to marry my academic and managerial side, with my more creative, artistic side. The lecture hall surrounded by academics is comfortable, it is a familiar. In doing all the other things I am stepping outside of my comfort zone and feel an uncertainty as to skills I have not yet developed, decisions I have not yet made, and the remarkably different lifestyle which awaits me to the 9-5 academic setting that I have worked my whole career. As scary as it is some days, I want that change, I want to be leading forwards with new ideas, being part of a creative community who works incredibly but flexibly. So I am not going to be a scaredy cat and retreat back to what is comfortable, I am just gonna do it.