Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Slowly Resuming Normal Service

Well, that was fun!

So there hasn’t been much activity here at CFTUSA lately, and it’s entirely my fault: I had the opportunity to write film reviews (and of course watch tonnes of movies) for my friends at Film Threat , the online movie magazine. This is something I love to do, and since it allows me to cover (and give more exposure to) the Victoria Film Festival, I was delighted. I’ve written for these guys off and on since 2000, so amazingly this marks my 10th year of film festival coverage with them.

People think film reviewing is easy work, and I suppose it is compared to, say, manual labour during Florida summers. But it’s not a cakewalk -- being trapped in a terrible movie you’re obligated to review is only slightly less painful than dental work. And believe me, being a film reviewer means having to watch films that are truly terrible, and I don’t mean “enjoyably incompetent” like those flicks on Mystery Science Theatre 3000, I mean really soul-sappingly miserable visual punishment, like what Malcolm McDowell had to go through in A Clockwork Orange. On the other hand, you also get to see really great stuff, often stuff that not a lot of other people are going to see, and always before most people get to see it.

You can read my reviews on Film Threat (search for “Victoria Film Festival”), or on my own film blog, FilmMoi.

Now that that’s over with (actually I still have another eight reviews to do, plus a wrap-up), we’re re-focusing on finding a regular gig (aka job) for me. As a “landed visitor” I can’t legally work here, but I can do freelance creative jobs (since a creative job -- like writing an article -- doesn’t take work away from Canadians) and I can still do work for US companies. Of course, that’s easier said than done when you no longer live in the US. :)

So, first tip for anyone reading this thinking of moving to Canada: either be rich, or secure yourself at least a temporary contract job before you move up. Second tip: try to do this when the economy is not in recession! Third tip: be able to clearly articulate what your skill set is, and have one that Canada actually wants/needs. It may shock you, but Canada will not fast-track your application if you’re coming up here to be a lumberjack. They’ve got plenty, thanks. Now, a nurse, or a brain surgeon, or a firefighter ... that helps. A lot.

Sadly, I am none of those things, and you can’t bluff your way in. Nor do I have $50,000 to invest in a Canadian business (another “fast-track” method).

The good news is that, as I’m married to a fully-legal Canadian, they really can’t throw me out (well, it would be difficult unless I committed crimes or something like that). But that doesn’t mean we’re assured of a nice place to live or wireless Internet access and the other necessities of life. So we budget, and I have to say we’ve made our money stretch farther than I thought it would. Neither one of us are particularly strong-willed when it comes to money, but we’ve done okay and we don’t anticipate that will change anytime soon.

Still, it’s an annoying dilemma. We’re investigating options, though, including having a chat with our MP Denise Savoie, finding out which US companies operate in the area, “networking” through our friends and social contacts, setting up a US company/corporation and consulting with our immigration attorney (who is rarely a source of good news, but is supremely honest and helpful -- yes, Canadian attorneys are really that different!). Frustratingly, a couple of companies who would love to hire me have already had to pass because of the time delay involved in obtaining a work permit (anywhere from two to six months after a company’s offer is made, and there are other legal hoops they must jump through). It’s a maddening Catch-22 in a country that has more jobs than it has workers and a (relatively) strong economy compared to the US at the moment.

This is not meant as a rant or a pity party, we knew perfectly well that we were taking an unconventional route to living here and that unforeseen obstacles might pop up. You don’t waltz into another country and have a smooth transition unless you’re very rich (as usual), and whatever curveballs Canada might throw us, if the situation was reversed there’s little doubt that we would be in more dangerous and dire straits. We just want to keep our friends and loved ones up to date and be honest about the ups and downs for the benefit of those that may follow us up here.

We’ll keep our readers posted as things develop. Hey, maybe now’s the time to write my play, “A Floridian Yankee in Queen Victoria’s Court”!