Fanshawe advanced filmmaking professor found success with national programming

Header image for the article Fanshawe advanced filmmaking professor found success with national programming Credit: ADAMM LILEY
Fanshawe's advanced film making professor Adamm Liley, has had quite the career so far, including working on This Hour Has 22 Minutes and the Trailer Park Boys. He's also created his own documentaries for CTV and CBC.

Fanshawe College is an excellent place for young learners to be able to take on the knowledge that experienced professionals have to offer. Adamm Liley, a previous co-ordinator and current teacher within Fanshawe's advanced filmmaking program, is a shining example of the experience and knowledge available within the College. Throughout his career, he has covered many aspects of work, such as directing, producing, writing and cinematography.

Liley has worked with an amazing amount of notable companies; he has written and produced segments for the show This Hour Has 22 Minutes, directed for the Trailer Park Boys and has even created his own feature documentaries for CTV and CBC. Those are just a few examples of the skills this ‘jack of all trades' has utilized throughout his career.

It can be interesting to learn how such an individual has decided to come to Fanshawe to teach. When asked why he pursued a career with the College, many circumstances led Liley in the direction of teaching.

“For years I knew I wanted to eventually teach,” Liley said over a phone interview. I had moved back from Nova Scotia to London for family reasons. I was working on a documentary, and I had to hire a couple students out of [Fanshawe's] film program. I got in touch with the co-ordinator and he recommended a particular student by the name of Kenny Wong. I hired Kenny to work on the documentary and we ended up working together on a number of films since then, so I became aware of the program.”

Liley went on to explain more in how his Fanshawe and career further developed.

“The co-ordinator also became aware that I was in the area and an actively engaged filmmaker. Just by circumstance, one of [Fanshawe's] staff left quite abruptly before the New Year was supposed to start. They reached out to me, and I jumped in right away. It's kind of like riding a wild bull for the first semester,” Liley laughed. “I really enjoyed it, and I enjoy being able to pass on the knowledge that I have to students.”

Adamm also commented on what ignited his passion for making documentaries and telling stories, which interestingly, began at Fanshawe, after Adamm finished high school.

“My interest really started when I was fresh out of high school. I took broadcast journalism at Fanshawe and I started to really get an interest in documentaries and storytelling. Once I finished at Fanshawe, I went on to [the] University of Guelph to get a degree and I took some film courses there,” Liley said.

Liley explained that he knew his current career choice was the right path for him to take.

“I was a small town kid from Delaware, who- and I hear this from some of my students too- had parents that thought you should get a trade or something. There's nothing wrong with that, but I always knew I just wanted to make films, I wanted to tell stories, and I wanted to be a documentary filmmaker,” Liley said.

After having a successful landscaping business in Alberta, Liley felt the work wasn't fulfilling and he knew he wanted to continue to pursuit his passion for documentary filmmaking.

“I went back to film school, I graduated, and moved immediately back to Halifax. I got heavily involved and met a lot of really great people. It was a lot of hard work; it was a lot of luck as well with the people that I met. I got involved with the Trailer Park Boys franchise, This Hour Has 22 Minutes and Street Cents, and started making my own feature documentaries for CTV and CBC,' Liley said.

“I just couldn't shake the need and the drive to tell stories. My main interest was to make documentaries and I pursued it and I worked hard to get to where I am now. I feel quite lucky and contempt, and confident in my skills.”

Through Liley's acquired skills, there are many things that he is able to bring to the classrooms of Fanshawe. Current, relevant industry experience, as well as contacts that he has developed, are both very strong resources he has used to create a quality learning environment.

“A couple weeks ago, we went to TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival). Cory Bowles from Trailer Park Boys had his first feature release at TIFF this year. I had him, the producer, the director of photography (DP), the sound guy and the picture editor- they did a private screening for the class and they did a Q & A. So, without that kind of experience, I'd never be able to have that kind of access,” Liley said.

Sharing his career life lessons with his students is important for Liley.

“Being able to talk to [students] about travelling in foreign countries and not everything you do works out. You can teach those moments too- the successes and the failures in the industry and from my past experience.”

“Every year I bring a few students to intern in the camera department on Trailer Park Boys. They'll come out for a week and be totally immersed in the show. They live at the same motel that the crew does, and they're embraced right away.”

As an industry professional, Adamm has excellent advice for anyone aspiring to travel down a similar path of success.

“Nobody knows you exist, so you have to get out there. It doesn't matter how talented you are, the less you get out there and market yourself, and pound the pavement, and network. Not network in a cheesy way; network with the right people, get to know the industry, never say no to a project, and every single job you do, work hard