On the other side of the desk with Jeff Vande Zande

By: Kevin Lazzaro, videographer

In the fall semester of 2017, Jeff Vande Zande found himself on the opposite side of the teacher’s desk. While on sabbatical, he was enrolled in two graduate-level courses at Tiffin University and an independent study at Central Michigan University.

Vande Zande is a professor of English at Delta College. He is one of the creators of the two-year film degree, a track of the electronic media associate’s degree, that is now offered at Delta College.

“The goal of [the sabbatical] was to come out on the other side… fully understanding the filmmaking process,” says Vande Zande.

Before his leave of absence, he primarily had knowledge in the field of screenwriting. Vande Zande wanted to learn more to benefit both his students and his own work.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve been on that side of the desk,” says Vande Zande.

Vande Zande’s graduate instructor at CMU said that he needed to have basic understanding of camera operation and editing video in the classroom but ended up having to learn it on his own by watching YouTube videos and experimenting.

“It was interesting, because I took the sabbatical to learn about camera operation and editing, and I thought that would happen in the classroom,” explains Vande Zande

As a result, Vande Zande made two short films on his own time between May and August to practice his technique. In his independent study, he was also required to make a short film for credit. He also made one more, totaling four short films. He submitted these films to several film festivals, 17 of which have accepted the films so far.

Given his interest in filmmaking, these probably will not be the last films that he makes. Vande Zande intends to apply his new skills while teaching Digital Cinematography for Film.

Vande Zande started his sabbatical in May, not re-entering the halls of Delta to teach until the current semester. The 8 months away from teaching made him worried of the transition back; though he was relieved to find that teaching came back to him easily.

Vande Zande described his time as being “eye-opening and affirming.” His knowledge of the film industry has grown from this experience, and will be reflected in his future teaching. He has already started by adding a new book to his Introduction to Screenwriting Course.

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