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Exploring Twillingate magic with the Unscripted Festival

By Tom Cochrane 

When you consider Twillingate, Newfoundland and Labrador, there’s a really good chance that you already have a picture in your mind: small picturesque community, some rolling hills, the waves lapping at the shore, cliffs and lighthouses, and icebergs in the summer. You’re not wrong with that description, but a new digital arts festival in late-September is bringing a brand new sense of unscripted adventure to this special corner of central Newfoundland.

Unscripted Twillingate, a brand new digital arts festival (the first of its kind in Atlantic Canada) brought together bloggers and artists, photographers and writers, from across Newfoundland and Labrador for a week to talk about and explore creating in a digital world. Workshops and sessions led by the likes of adventurer T.A. Loeffler, artist Tara Jane Feener, photographer Dennis Minty, and blogger Mariellen Ward looked at how we create, publish, and talk about ourselves and our worlds online.

Workshops led us on hikes around beaches and in to root cellars (led by our fearless leader T.A.), brought us in to a recording studio to witness the digital music recording process (Dean Stairs is a musical mastermind), and brought a group of budding filmmakers together to create a short film (led by the genius of Roger Maunder). There was even an incredibly delicious feast cooked using only ingredients found in and around the Twillingate area, cooked up by the amazing Shaun Hussey and Michelle LeBlanc of Chinched Bistro in St. John’s.

The real magic, though, of this new digital arts festival were the moments that we didn’t plan for at all — indeed, as the name says, the unscripted moments of Unscripted were the true gems that I’ll hang on to. Like when Iceberg Quest took Tara Feener and I on a totally unplanned boat tour around Twillingate (pro tip: a great way to make an awesome new friend is to go on a spur of the moment boat tour with someone you just met). Or when, after dinner, we spent an hour playing with light painting (using long exposure photography and small lights to “draw” in a photo). Or when a group of us wandered around Old House Cove in the sun, snow, hail, and rain (Newfoundland weather is beautifully unpredictable) on an impromptu photo walk. All of this, plus the usual Twillingate incredibleness of the Crow Head Lighthouse, the Anchor Inn, Crow’s Nest Cafe, the wine tasting at Auk Island Winery, and of course, the really, really incredibly kind and warm people.

Twillingate is gorgeous at any time of year — go for the landscape, the ocean and the steep cliffs that seem to erupt out of no where, the icebergs, and the wonderful people. But it’s you’re feeling a little adventurous, and if you’re a digital creator like me (and let’s face it, these days all of us are digital creators) you owe it to yourself to go to Unscripted Twillingate in September 2016. I’ll see you there.