Meet Michael Baker, Professor (Film Studies)

(Photo: Mike Baker)

(Photo: Mike Baker)

Dr. Michael Baker is a Professor of Film Studies in Sheridan’s School of Humanities and Creativity.  Born and raised in nearby Burlington, he spent the last fourteen years studying and teaching at post-secondary institutions across Canada.  His areas of expertise include documentary cinema, film sound, moving image technology, and popular music and media.

Mike studied film at York University (B.A. Film & Video) and Concordia University (M.A. Cinema Studies) before undertaking his doctoral studies at McGill University in the Department of Art History and Communication Studies (Ph.D. Communication Studies).  After ten years in Montreal teaching at both Concordia and Carleton University in Ottawa, he began a two-year postdoctoral research position at University of British Columbia funded by the Fonds de recherche sur la société et la culture (Québec).  At UBC he was appointed a postdoctoral teaching fellow in the Department of Theatre & Film and moonlit at both Simon Fraser University and Fraser International College teaching courses in film history and theory.  The diversity of these experiences crystallized Mike’s desire to further develop teaching as a core component of his professional life.  While in Vancouver, he served as a member of the British Columbia Audiovisual Heritage Society and participated in the re-launch of Home Movie Day in Vancouver.

Mike’s current research addresses interactive documentaries at the NFB, their history, and questions their future in the face of ongoing institutional changes and changing technological demands.  He is at work on a book-length project adapted from his dissertation tentatively titled, Rockumentary: An Incomplete History of the Popular Music Documentary, sits on the editorial board of the Canadian Journal of Film Studies, and actively presents his research at international conferences.

Dr. Baker is co-editor (with Tom Waugh and Ezra Winton) of Challenge for Change: Activist Documentary at the National Film Board of Canada (McGill-Queen’s, 2010), a 600-page collection of historical material and contemporary essays about one of the NFB’s most interesting and controversial media initiatives.  Recent publications include “Martin Scorsese and the Music Documentary” in A Companion to Martin Scorsese (Wiley, 2014) and “Notes on the Rockumentary Renaissance” in a new issue of the film studies journal, Cinephile.  Forthcoming work includes an essay on the role of sound in the work of iconoclastic Canadian filmmaker Arthur Lipsett in the collection, Strange Codes: The Films of Arthur Lipsett (University of Calgary Press, forthcoming).

Excited to return to the area and a supportive network of family and cherished friends, Sheridan is a truly unique opportunity for Mike.  A lifelong Montreal Canadiens fan, he’s not even bothered by the sea of blue-and-white he now finds himself in.

Michael Baker answers Alchemy’s Proust Questionnaire:

Most important lesson I’ve learned this year: Things have a way of working themselves out.

My favourite qualities in a student: Curiosity and commitment.

My favourite qualities in a teacher: Curiosity and commitment.

If I weren’t a teacher I’d be: Restless.

Moment in my life I’d like to re-live: Seeing my daughter for the very first time.

My favourite song: It’s impossible to pick one but it’s amazing how the world melts away during the opening of “This Charming Man.”

My favourite food/meal and drink: Fresh oysters in the summer, sashimi served by Shiro, the soft-cooked hen egg at Momofuku Ko, the steak at Joe Beef, and a latte from Sightglass or Revolver.

My favourite quotation, motto, or phrase: “A man’s work is nothing but this slow trek to rediscover through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened.” (Albert Camus)