Jason Gondziola, Concordia University TV station manager, tried to realize a script he had written when he was 18. With the help of a cop.
“In Edmonton all the high schools have [a police officer] stationed at them. Constable Bob helped me out,” said Gondziola.
Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out the way he hoped it would.
“I told him I wanted to shoot a movie and I had this one scene to be shot at the LRT [Edmonton’s Light Rail Transit system] . . . and I wanted this shot [of the train] going through the tunnel. So he really helped me, put me in touch with people to get filming permits [but] he actually backed out at the last minute and that basically killed production.”
Through this experience, though, Gondziola came across another person who shared his interest in filmmaking.
“I met a friend of a friend.and we started a company that summer and wound up working for the Edmonton Fringe Festival. We did a 5-minute comedic warm-up film for [a] play and filmed some pedestrian traffic footage.”
“So I had some experience in video and.coming into CUTV [Concordia University Television] I was really excited to get a chance to do it again.”
Producing student-made content, CUTV is the longest operated university television station in Canada. Some former members have gone on to successful broadcasting careers such as CTV News anchor Mutsumi Takahashi and reporter Caroline van Vlaardingen. A few CUTV productions have been screened at the Fantasia Film Festival and Montreal World Film Festival.
Although Gondziola became station manager last May, he’s been an active member for two years. When he began at CUTV, Gondziola said, “I just saw this huge opportunity people really didn’t know about. At the time they were running a lot of Bugs Bunny and Twilight Zone on the monitor, there wasn’t a lot of student content up there, and so I kind of saw it as a really good [chance] to get involved.”
CUTV produces dramatic, narrative and documentary films and is working on a news program. One of the programs they organize is makealottamovies, which gives Concordia students the chance to make short films in a limited amount of time. CUTV provides the necessary equipment but participants have one day to film and two days to edit.
Their latest endeavor is CUTV Nooze. Students compile a television news report and for each episode, the person submitting the most innovative report gets $100. To determine who wins, the episode is reviewed by CUTV program manager Caroline Fernandez and a journalism professor.
Although CUTV has television screens displaying its content around the Hall Building, Gondziola said the biggest problem facing the station is its lack of visibility on campus.
“I think the challenge facing [CUTV] is exposure. Our monitors are in bad locations [like] at the ends of escalators so people just pass by and look at them. Students . . . will often mute them or turn them off. They don’t really know what CUTV is.”
Gondziola said authorization from administration to put up screens is also hard to obtain. “In the past we’ve put monitors up at the Mezzanine and the administration has told us to take them down. The really sad irony is you look now and there’s an advertising monitor attached to the Internet terminal down there.”
He believes monitors shouldn’t be the only way to showcase student-produced material. “We need to get out of the idea of monitors being the sole means for distribution.”
As a result, some of the station’s content can now be viewed on YouTube or their website http://cutv.concordia.ca. CUTV content can also be seen on screens at Reggie’s bar in the Hall building. Gondziola said the station is working hard to come up with promotional ways to improve its presence on campus.
In conjunction with the Art Matters festival, on March 16 CUTV will host a film festival featuring content made by Concordia students in the Hall Building’s H-110. CUTV also has a projector and Gondziola said the station has been thinking about showing impromptu projections around the school.
Gondziola said CUTV would also like to increase awareness of campus politics. “We’re purchasing a live video mixer [which would] enable us to . . . record Student Union meetings and mix them live, put them on TVs and the web. Then people can see what’s going on politically.”
Gondziola has a positive outlook about the direction of the station. “[Overall] I’m pretty optimistic about what lies ahead.”
To learn more or become a CUTV member visit cutv.concordia.ca or stop by their office in the Hall Building, H-733. To get involved with makealottamovies, the next meeting will be held on March 1, at 6:30 p.m. in the CUTV office.