Professor Mark McKinley might not be considered an average psychology professor at Lorain County Community College. From the increasing number of knick-knacks decorating his office to his unique and amusing way of getting around campus on a personal transporter; even his great shock of white hair makes him stand out in a crowd. With McKinley having taught at the college for 48 years, it occurred to one alumnus that it was the right time to share this most unusual man with a larger audience
LCCC student alumni Mika Johnson co-wrote, directed and produced “Forever Professor,” a 32-minute documentary about McKinley and his obsession with time. The short-film premiered at the 2015 Cleveland International Film Festival showcase, which ran from March 18 to 29.
Johnson was a student of McKinley’s Intro to Psychology course 18 years ago. The initial intrigue that drew him into creating “Forever Professor” was a personal interest in McKinley’s large collection of clocks; something Johnson identified with.
“I remember Professor McKinley [as] being one of the most eccentric professors I ever had,” Johnson said. “By eccentric, I mean outside of conventional understandings of normality. He’s always been aware he’s different. And he’s always been presenting that in the most artistic way.”
The idea of time has become more than just a topic of conversation for the professor; it’s a lifestyle. Over the years, McKinley has continued to add to his talking clock collection, and currently holds two Guinness World records, one for owning the largest assortment of talking clocks (currently over 1,000) and the other for the “most personal transporter figure –of-eights in two minutes.”
Johnson described the documentary as being co-authored, with it being as much McKinley’s story as his own. As the filming progressed, it became a story of more than just talking clocks.
Johnson added that “when I reconnected with [McKinley], I [knew] this was going to be such an interesting film because he’s such an interesting subject.”
In the feature film, McKinley comes across as quick witted and light hearted.
When asked if he thought he might be going too far with his collection of clocks, he responded that “no collector ever thinks they’ve gone too far.”
The film not only received many well deserved laughs during its premiere, but it engendered a collective fascination with the clocks that Johnson respectfully took the time to capture and show off.
The overall production of the documentary took half a year, with students from Oberlin College assisting in the cinematography and sound.
“The Cleveland International Film Festival is just the first step,” Johnson said, on the film’s first screening. “We’re already taking the next steps for the film to play internationally.”
Johnson has been in the filmmaking industry for the past ten years. One of his productions includes an online web series called “The Amerikans,” featuring local area people with unique stories to tell. The series caught the eye of the Prague Film Institute, where Johnson is now currently instructing “directing and documentary production.”
A special showing of “Forever Professor” will be held from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on April 1 in LCCC’s Stocker Arts Cinema Hall. The event is free and open to the public.