This is a very strange moment to retire, after nearly 25 years working with Screen Scotland, Creative Scotland and its predecessor Scottish Screen. The last two of those years I've been working from home and hardly ever saw any of my colleagues and partners, except on screen, so it's almost like my retirement actually began in March 2020. I miss them greatly, and it's been a great joy getting out to see people IRL (as we say nowadays) these past few weeks. Life has changed a lot since 2019, hasn't it? And the only thing we know about the future is that rapidly accelerating change is in permanent prospect.
Most of my work over these years has been focused on trying to encourage the public education system to recognise the dominance of the moving image in our lives, our culture, politics, and economy, and to address this by providing moving image education for all, from early years onwards. We have made some progress, thanks to the extraordinary work and talents of a wide range of organisations and individuals, and I would like to record here my personal gratitude to all of them, too numerous to list. I wish I could say we had made more progress than we have, but we can hope to move things on a little faster now, with a major educational reform underway, an expanding screen industry, the ubiquity of film in online communications, cheap filmmaking technology in schools (phones and tablets), and consequently an increasing awareness of the need for moving image literacy. Which is not to pile pressure on my excellent successor and colleague Fi Milligan-Rennie!
Another area I've been working in - since around 2012 - is sustainability, working with the pioneering and seriously brainy Creative Carbon Scotland. This culminated in several projects during last year's COP26, including Film Access Scotland's wonderful 1.5 degrees film challenge, Mairi Claire Bowser's appointment as Screen Sustainability Manager with BECTU Vision, and work on Creative Scotland's Sustainability Strategy. Human ecology has been an abiding interest since I was a teenager, so it's been truly fascinating and a great privilege to work in this area too. That said, the changes coming down the track (already arriving at nearby stations in truth) give enormous pause for thought, and will increasingly dominate our work. As Tommy Lee Jones says in No Country For Old Men (like me...) 'cain't stop what's coming.'
My thanks again to everyone I've worked with over these years, and for the many kind words people have said and written to me recently. They're a great treasure stored up to keep me going in the mysterious 'after' that starts for me this Friday, April Fools Day...