Nell Hensey is in her final year of studying English and Film, she has represented the country at international film festivals and this year she has graduated from the head of Arts and Culture in UCDTV to take the reins of society for its sophomore year.
UCDTV, technically called the Video Production Society, has had an unconventional history. Beginning as Campus Television News, a Student’s Union affiliated group that provided content for televisions in the student’s residences (the idea of which we both agree is ‘mad to think about nowadays’), the group broke away from the union and was largely inactive until last year. Under the leadership of last year’s Auditor Jonny Byrne and Secretary Luke Fitzpatrick, CTN underwent a huge rebranding to become UCDTV. Jonny is also responsible for reviving Belfield FM as a student society, so he had the relevant experience to pull UCDTV from its limbo.
There is a perception that UCDTV is a small society, but their production scale and committee numbers are surprisingly large. Nell found that they had a nice amount of committee member turnover, ‘half the committee were committee members last year, half the committee were new members.’ In fact, in this semester already, they have expanded to create two new roles – training officer and green room convener – also taking on two new OCMs. For all the committee’s creative positions, there are deputy positions, which has allowed deputies to gain a year of experience and then ascend to the role above them. For UCDTV, this type of commitment to the society is vital for their growth in the early stages of their existence, ‘It’s a small society so longevity is kind of an issue when you don’t have that much reach, so to continue the society its good to have people already on.’
They film three productions per week that fall under one of their three main areas of production; Original Content, a section that does what it says on the tin and produces original content such as comedy sketches, Arts and Culture covers band interviews and book reviews, and News and Vox films interviews across campus. They have a ‘shoot of the week’ every Wednesday, during which heads of production take less experienced students out to productions with them.
It’s clear that UCDTV is an important vehicle for students to gain experience in video production and Nell hopes that the society is filling a gap in the market, ‘When I started in college, filmmaking was something that I really wanted to pursue as a career, but even my course is very academic and UCDTV wasn’t around when I was in first year, but would’ve loved a chance to do practical things, that’s what we’re trying to make UCDTV into.’
One particular UCDTV event that students can look forward is The Great UCD Cook-Off. As the name implies, the event will be a Great British Bake-Off inspired cooking competition between some of the largest society’s auditors. UCDTV will have ‘teams of filmmakers following them getting ingredients on campus and prepping for the cook-off’ and will then, screen these segments at the event itself. The event is set to happen in March, after the mid-term, and will be in aid of charity, so all students are encouraged to come along and watch your ‘favourite society auditors battling it out in the kitchen’
UCDTV aim to release two videos every week, with Facebook being their primary platform, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to reach an audience on that platform. ‘We did struggle especially in semester two of last year, with Facebook because of the algorithm changes, like this time last year, we were having like astronomical views, but because Facebook has changed the algorithms it’s more difficult to get the reach that we were getting before, so we are exploring alternatives.’
One of these distribution alternatives is the festival circuit. ‘In January we are doing our intervarsity project, so that’ll be a short film that we’re shooting, half the crew are going to experience UCDTV members who can apply to be on the crew and half of the crew is going to be film students from other colleges, so we have 9 other participating colleges, we hope to put that film out onto like the festival circuits then in 2019.’
Already this semester, they’ve completed a private commission for Deloitte to film their Impact Day back in September. Nell is particularly happy with the group’s work on this project, saying that it was ‘fantastic to have more of an industry standard challenge.’ They have another commission coming up before the end of the year for the Ronald McDonald House to film a five-minute highlight reel of their Christmas charity ball. Though in this case, UCDTV is offering their services for free as a contribution to the charity.
With UCDTV only in its second year since it’s rebirth, Nell and her committee have a lot of power in defining the society’s purpose. ‘We do want to branch out into different forms of multimedia and filmmaking’, with last year’s output being mainly online videos, this year Nell is expanding the group into commercial projects and filmmaking. She wants to take the society into as many avenues of video production as possible, with the aim ‘to maintain these small projects, but also have a larger one to work towards’
When put on the spot to choose a favourite film director, Nell admits that it’s her ‘dream to work for Christopher Nolan’ and with the success that UCDTV is having already this year under her leadership, there could easily come a day when that’s not a dream anymore. Watch this space.
By Muireann O’Shea – CoEditor