The Medium sat down with UTM/TV’s creative director, Peter Buczkowski, to get the scoop on campus television, the importance of hands-on experience, and… Shakespearean literature?
The Medium: What kind of issues does UTM/TV address?
Peter Buczkowski: UTM/TV is student-run and student-organized. We started off last year with just a bunch of students sitting around saying, “You know what? We need a TV station on campus.” So, we address everything that students want to address. I’m in charge of the creative portion—the content— and I send out emails, I talk to people, I see who’s making waves on campus, and I go up to them and say, “Hey, do you wanna get your message out?”
People email me and say they want to make a show that’s like The Twilight Zone or something like that, and then I help facilitate what they do. English students are told in third year that they should have their portfolio ready for fourth year, but nobody told us that in first year. So, we have stories we wanna tell, but no way of telling them, really. So, that’s what we help address—that lack of user content on campus.
TM: So it’s not just limited to news on campus, like if people want to make their own mini TV shows…?
PB: Exactly. We have monthly broadcasts that are a half-hour long, and 15 minutes of it is news, sports, and entertainment, and the other 15 is all student-based, creative everything.
TM: Cool. So where can students watch UTM/TV?
PB: At utmtv.ca. Right now we are working on getting on the screens at the RAWC and at the Student Centre. We’ve been on the screens, they’ve taken us down, we’ve gone back up; it’s on a broadcast-by-broadcast basis with them. The residences we’re working on getting advertisements all put in, and same with the library.
TM: I know that some people have heard of UTM/TV, but they don’t see it playing on the TVs on campus and aren’t really sure where to find it. So, what are you guys doing to branch out more?
PB: It’s actually really difficult for the TVs on campus because each building has its own administration for its TVs and its own system, and so it’s not all… cohesive. There used to be TVs in the South and North buildings, at least in my first year, which sort of sparked us into that idea. Then we found out that those TVs were on contract by an advertising agency that paid the university to have their TVs up, so if we ever get into a fall of money we’ll certainly be buying TVs and putting them on campus, but until then…
TM: How can students get involved and what’s the process? If they have an idea for you guys, do they need any prior experience?
PB: Absolutely not. We train people from the bottom up. Every week we get about three or four people that just walk into the office and say, “I just heard about you guys! Great idea! How can I help?” And I’ll ask, “Well, what’s your program? What are you doing?” So we had a guy come in yesterday that’s in first-year chemistry, and then three days ago a guy came in that was in third-year professional writing. And they each said, “I just wanna get involved. I wanna know what to do.”
So we train people everything from camera work, to script-writing, to editing. All of that because I want to think that we’ve provided them with a hands-on experience that’s actually applicable to the field. We’ve had students who graduated and got accepted to programs at Humber for professional film editing, which is a hard program to get into. One student got accepted to the University of Tokyo, their film school, which is world-renowned, and what they used for their portfolios was our website. Every time someone is in a video, it gets credited to you, and I know there are guys that have 60 video credits, and when they go to a job interview for like, CTV, they’ll just bring up their portfolio.
TM: So it’s like an online résumé right there.
PB: Exactly, and it’s not like, “This is my highlight reel”; this is everything from the ground up. That way, people can see how you’ve learned and how you’ve built yourself up.
TM: Great. Is there anything else you want students to know about UTM/TV?
PB: I think that on a broader scale, we’re living in a really interesting time. Not just as a cliché, but
honestly, there are things going on politically in the world that are shaking things up, and I think that our world needs more—we’re gonna be left with a vacuum, like Mississauga doesn’t really have anything that’s about Mississauga, it’s all about Toronto. So, 20 years down the road, you’re not going to hear about anything that happened in Mississauga now, and I think that’s true in a lot of university towns; I think that’s true in a lot of places around Canada.
The issue is that in university we’re so focussed on our academics that we don’t realize that’s not what’s going to get us our jobs, it’s the other things. A lot of people graduate with a piece of paper at the end of the day, but not a lot of people graduate with experience. By jumping in and getting this experience, you’re building not only yourself up, but you’re also pushing for, I think, society as a whole—because I know that The Medium does a lot of experimentation with its media formats and stuff like that. We do a lot of experimentation, CFRE does a lot of experimentation, and for us to take that out into the real world and say, “Look at what we’ve done here,” I wanna be able to apply that further. I think that’s what employers are looking for, not “I took a history course,” or “I can tell you what happened in Titus Andronicus” [laughs], and then your boss is like, “This is about mutual funds, and nothing at all to do with Shakespeare.”
But I think that’s one of the main roles of student media, in that it allows students to have those opportunities and it’s those opportunities that help society, not a degree in Shakespearean literature. Not that Shakespearean literature is bad! [laughs] It’s just that experience is what I think is going to push us forward and I think that’s what gonna help a lot.
The UTM/TV office is located in room 3135 of the CCIT building.