last year, a few USF students thought it would be interesting to have a campus tv station. they brainstormed a plan, brought it to melinda stone, and USFtv was born. this year, because melinda is on sabbatical, kate haug and i are USFtv's faculty co-advisors.
USFtv is a campus-wide cablecast created by and for USF students. USFtv produces around five cablecasts a semester. cablecasts are between one and two hours and include student films and videos, USF news, interviews with bay area residents, artists, musicians, and media makers, documentaries about USF social justice organizations, and other assorted media goodies. USFtv is an opportunity for USF students to work in teams to make engaged, provocative, and creative media - and distribute it across campus. working with USFtv has been one of the highlights of my first year here at USF.
working with kate is great. she's a filmmaker, a screenwriter, an author, and an academic, so she offers all kinds of perspectives to the students. plus, this year, she's the department's film studies minor coordinator which means she knows more about the filmic skills of our current students than anyone. in addition to providing advice and support, our main contribution is watching the cablecasts and offering feedback prior to their distribution. the process is time-consuming (our feedback often runs three to four single-spaced pages) but when the cablecasts improve each time we know our feedback is being heard which makes the process well worth it.
the best part is watching the students grow USFtv. they designed it all - content, format, distribution, branding, outreach, fundraising - and so far it more or less works. with each episode, USF news gets better, more diverse, and more interesting. the student films are getting edgier and finally we're starting to see some weird stuff. the production is getting slicker (USFtv has an excellent team of editors). now, at mid-year, the key is to not get lazy. spring semester is not for relaxation. it is for creation.
last thursday and friday, the core team of USFtv organized a retreat. i was there for most of friday and it was extremely productive. the students hammered out a production schedule for the entire semester, discussed their collaboration with baykids, and brainstormed identity issues. we spent a lot of time talking about the web, which was pure fun for me. we talked about blogs, we talked about flickr, we talked about youtube. jessica dragotto is taking a directed study with me in spring to launch the USFtv web site. (i'll link to that when it happens.)
judging from the retreat, the students this semester are much more organized, much more focused. they know what it takes to make one hour of good content every two to three weeks. they know how to work in teams - camera person, sound person, interviewer, editor - an invaluable skill in today's media world. and they are beginning to know that it's not about a good show or a bad show - it's about your newest show being better than your last show which was better than the one before. i'm excited for what spring will bring.