Tag Archives: College

5 Things I wish I knew in college as a creative

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I learned in my college years at Mohawk College as a Television Broadcasting student the past few weeks. And had many conversations with highly engaged community driven creative individuals and I can’t imagine what the future for creatives in the city will be like in 5 to 10 years down the line.

The industry is changing very drastically even from a month-to-month basis that it’s hard to know how everything in the digital space will pan out. I’m not going to write something like Television is completely dead. It really isn’t, but how we consume our media has drastically change.

Our society has slowly changed, we no longer have valuable family time on a Friday night, watching Family Matters, Full House, and Whose The Boss. We no longer sit down at 6pm & or 11pm to watch the evening news… why would we? We’ve checked out our facebook, twitter feed and got the news updates as it is happening in real time. It use to be normal just have one single television set in the family room where we could all congregate, and then, it became normal to have a television set in every room of the house… okay, I’m exaggerating, perhaps one in each bedroom, plus a family room.

But as the digital age progresses, fewer people are watching “television” the way we use to think television should be watched. A majority of television consumption is now through our Smart phones, Tablets, laptop and desktop computers. We are also consuming media in shorter lengths of time because our attention span as dwindled down right to the core. If it doesn’t capture our attention within the first 30 seconds you’ve lost the audience. If you’re not a die hard fan of the concept why do I care to watch it in the first place.

So with all that being said, I wonder what kind of education is being programmed into young idealistic minds today to shape the future of tomorrow. Are they learning about the importance of content being produced and know why we create with an idea of cross platform purposes. Are they merely being taught the basics of video production or other technical aspects that would go into storytelling or finally are they being taught to think in new innovative ways, and think beyond the box we tend to put ourselves in.

So with that being said, I comprised a short top 5 list of things I wish I knew when I first got started in College.

1.) Networking, biggest favour to yourself is getting out in the community and network with other creatives, bring your friends, along with you too, force them into it if you have to!

Networking at events such as Creative Exchange, anything by Factory Media Arts, Cobalt Connects, get out there now, even if you’re just starting out and have nothing to show, it doesn’t matter. The skills you develop by actually interacting with people that are doing something in real time will go a long way with your professional career.

And you never know, you might just end up with a job with a simple handshake and a smile. Find the grassroots networking events, Startup Drinks comes to mind, which is a great networking event that happens once a month that will allow you to easily break the ice, but be consistent when attending. Once you do that, bring a friend, then they feel comfortable and may know another individual that might consider it of value to make connections. That is how we grow together as a community and build long lasting relationships with our peers.

And if at all possible, if you see something missing and you think the creative community could benefit from, build your own networking event. Reach out to the people you wish you could see more of at networking events, never get bogged down being and be an island only to yourself and a select few. The more individuals you know the more opportunities are then created for you to grow not only as a professional but as a person as well.

That’s what I ended up doing over the last year, after I attended my first Web Series meet up in Toronto, I fell in love with the energy that flowed through the space. It was something I was already passionate about so it only made sense to me that I wanted to bring that energy to the Hamilton Creatives.

And don’t be afraid to take the lead, and be a leader if you have to, even if it’s not widely accepted in the beginning. The more you work on building your connections the more people get to know what you’re up to and trying to accomplish.


2.) If you’re not on social media, start now! And I don’t mean just the usual suspects (Facebook and Google) I mean twitter, Linkedin, even instagram. Use them to build your digital presence, another fellow Mohawk Grad actually brought this up. And after thinking about it, it was so true. You don’t have to have a company twitter account, it is more about getting into the process of interacting with again your community, building trust online, and creating engaging conversation.

Just make sure when you do sign up for twitter, you make your user name as simple as your first and last name. Try not to make it too crazy. The friend I spoke of which most of you reading this probably have seen his tweets, has gone through a few name changes and the only reason for this is as he continues to grow his following on twitter he has changed his work place at least once or twice and with each time he does, he merely changes the end of his twitter handle to reflect the company that he might be working for.

Linkedin, another great way to build relationships and potential leads for future job opportunities. Again, regardless of work experience, start building your professional connections now! It will make the transition process of being a student to a professional a whole lot smoother.


3.) Take a business course: I would have loved to have more of an intensive class within the 3 year program that talks about the aspect of being a creative entrepreneur. For those individuals that have a passion and drive to build their own business. To be able to learn more about team building, managerial, sales, marketing side of production services. And the knowing what a reasonable rate is for the line of work that you’re doing. Obviously it will vary depending on the situation, a team of one won’t charge the same price as a team of 5 or 6 individuals as a company so that is a must to take into the consideration.


4.) Development of boundaries: In other words, don’t ever let anyone walk all over you and take advantage of your skill sets as a creative. There is a statue of limitations on proving yourself in the industry and get away from the “It will be a great demo reel piece.” Knowing how much your time is worth, how much your equipment costs and your educational background. You are not a ‘starving artist’ there is no such thing, you just have to develop the right mindset as a creative well in advance before you dive in.

I can tell you through my experience, I spent almost a grand total of 14,000 dollars on getting all of my equipment. I saw it as an investment opportunity, and I haven’t regretted that decision yet. I also spend money every time I go out and buy a new external hard drive so I can properly archive and maintain raw footage just in case if I have to go back to something.


Now going back to education, if your in Television Broadcasting, you’re using industry leading, cutting edge equipment that probably costs more than anyone is willing to admit. You’re trained in the art of storytelling, knowing what drives a great emotional piece that psychologically compels the viewer to share. You’re using equipment has to be properly taken care of and update and software that costs a pretty penny, unless of course you do it the old pirate way.

So knowing where, when and why you’re setting the boundaries is key. This isn’t a hobby class you’re taking this is your professional career and people have to understand that but most of all you have to understand that. And you might have to say no to projects you really want to take on, but, if you say yes all the time and especially with little to no pay being rewarded it will be that much harder to break later on in life.

5.) Follow your passion: This one is probably the most important of them all. Follow your passion, passion & enthusiasm will set you apart from everyone else. Never let the industry drain your passion to the point that you become jaded. The minute that you come across like that, get out of the way.

And there is a big difference between being realistic and jaded, even when your realistic you still have enthusiasm but if you’re jaded you just rip apart anything that someone new wants to try. And it becomes more pessimistic view on the world. Never let someone else’s path derail you from yours.

Even if they have 30 years worth of experience behind them, the fact is, times are changing. What might not have worked 10 years ago when they first tried to implement the very same idea, could have a completely different impact on how it could work now. Be mindful of these individuals, and stay true to your passionate side, keep the imagination alive and be open to endless possibilities, hang on to that as tightly as possible!


And my final thought for all of the above is always stay true to yourself, never try and pretend to be like someone else! Be as real as possible. You don’t need to impress anyone, you just need to be you! Let your passion shine through your work like the golden sun breaking through the clouds of a stormy day.

Love and cherish every minute that you spend filling your head up with knowledge and truly empower yourself to be the best creative individual you can be.

– Cheers Michael

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The Trials and Tribulations only make us Stronger

“Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life – think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success.” – Swami Vivekananda

My first day of entering Mohawk College as a mature student, in the Television Broadcasting course was to say the least, a tad bit scary but exciting at the same time.
It was scary in that, this was it, my dreams come true, what if I find out I spent my entire life chasing a phantom dream!? Once getting involved in the classes that
I find out that I completely dislike the whole idea of Television and it was all a waste of time? It was exciting because at the same time I just loved the pure
story telling aspect of Television, didn’t matter if it was visual or verbal it was the art of storytelling I loved and passionate about the most!

Piecing information together, creating the words that will go and really hit home visually to a story piece, the creative process of learning an entirely new
camera then what I’m use to and the importance of audio to your production was really invigorating. Thankfully, my friends that I’ve made in the previous course
I took also came with me into our first year television course. We also made sure we were in the proper section so we could all be together and wouldn’t have to
really meet new people.

I’m not going to lie, the course was very demanding, there was a lot of information to take in, not only are you trying to learn old methods of editing but at the
same time learn the new way of editing on the computer instead of tape to tape. But, I think after a few classes, and the first initial tests, once getting out on
the field and shooting, I knew right then and there this was a place were I was meant to be and I would work my butt off to make it through every single test, every
single shoot and make it my own.

Needless to say, again, it wasn’t that easy. There were events that transpired that I never really had to deal with before, like the whole idea of group work
and being a team player. It’s easy to be a team player when you’re getting paid to do so, but when you’re dealing with really good friends, and just getting marks
which should be as equal to if not more as money, you tend to slack with what is expected of you.

Some people go through school like they were a leaf in the wind, just bouncing from one class to another with out a care in the world never really looking
at the bigger picture and what is at stake, fail one test? I’ll make it up on the next one. But for others they really wanted to make their mark.
And some people need to be pushed up against the wall, so close to failing that they will do anything and what ever it takes to crawl back out of the hole,
nothing more embarrassing then not being able to graduate with your friends but not that, that type of person would care because they would just be pissing
their life away in the mean time.

And then there are just those that no matter what mark they get, they can always con people into getting what they want, and it might work for a majority of the time
but it doesn’t always suit your needs to be that way and rely on that method to create and manifest your destiny. There were very many great moments in that 3 year stretch
of television broadcasting course I could talk about, but none would compare to the First day I decided to to change my life around and the last day I would step into
that school as a Student.

Graduation from the course taught me one thing, dreams will stand on their own if you have passion and courage to pursue them, no matter how long it takes, no matter
what you have to go through during the process to get there. And it is ultimately not the final destination but the journey to get there that matters the most.
Graduation is simply a piece of paper acknowledging your efforts and a pat on the back. But it’s not the end, only merely a new beginning.

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Failure is not Fatal

“If you’re bored with life – you don’t get up every morning with a burning desire to do things – you don’t have enough goals.” Lou Holtz

And so the time came when I was first introduced to the rest of my life, I believe, this began in Grade 10 of my high school career where
I was exposed to the art of making movie magic! There was a course I took, Communication’s and Technology, at the time of entering into
high school the students that were in their final year truly inspired the creative in me. They were creating video’s and short films that
I could only DREAM of creating at the time.

I had the computer technology, I had the software for editing, I had energy, and ideas, but what I lacked was a camera to see things through.
When finally getting into the course, it opened my heart and mind to an endless possibilities. Here I was standing in what at the time was a HUGE
studio space, with all the latest in the technology. The High School I went to some how procured funding to create the most up-to-date studio
set up I’ve ever known for a High School to have!

Camera’s, lighting grid, Green screen, switcher and young hungry talented teenagers. I was in finally in my element, we learned the in’s and outs of
creating a live on-air show every morning for the announcements. Creating ENG pieces for the news to throw to, graphics, everything a Newscast needed.
It was a terrific and amazing time, it was there, where I would meet and join forces with a group of friends that had so much imagination to them
and had so many fun adventures that I just fell in love with the lifestyle of waking up each morning and do what I love to do which is create!

When it started getting closer and closer to the time of graduations, I had to make a choice of where will I begin the next phase of my journey.
I really always loved the reputation that Mohawk College in Hamilton carried with it. reminded me of the High School in a lot of ways.
That’s when I decided, I was going to do this, I was going to get into Mohawk College for Television Broadcasting no matter what!

When I explained this to one of my teachers at my high school his response after a little chuckle, he told me “If you go there, the only thing
you’ll end up doing is making safety tapes at Defasco” Needless to say this remark was not very encouraging to a young fresh and creative mind
like myself. I was determined to make it in, it was there I felt the sting of my first of many set back of struggling to remain who I am.

When I applied I had very high hopes, however, my marks just were not there. They then suggested I take the General Arts and Science course to boost
my chances of making it in. So I did, and I was accepted, but, again I struggled through out the process of doing something I didn’t love to do.
The subjects were not my thing, and eventually dropped out within the first year.

I then ended up taking the rest of the tuition money and buy my very first camera, it was a clunky hi-8 camera, nothing flashy but with it I was able
to create my own video’s and continue practicing my craft until next year and I would try to get into Television Broadcasting again. So I went to work,
my first ever REAL job, it was at the local bowling alley. It was there where I spent the next 7 years of my life, a wonderful experience to have happened
to me. I learned so much about, friendship, loyalty, customer service. And just to live a happy life style.

It got to year 3 of working there when things began to change for me, in the beginning, it was fun, it was exciting to learn something new every single day
about myself and my capabilities. But when summer time came, and all my high school friends came back and were customers it started to be depressing. Year after year,
my friends asking “so, what have you been up to?” and year after year saying “Just this?” took a tole on me, I stopped imagining myself going to Mohawk and just figured
I’d be there for the rest of my life, I was depressed.

Finally I was pushed and let my dreams off to the side for FAR too long! My determination to get back into things began to come back, and I started apply to Mohawk again
as a mature student, but again, faced with doom and gloom of failure once more! However this time, someone suggested I check out the “Pre-Media” course Mohawk
would begin to offer, again it was a way to increase my chances to get into the Television Broadcasting course and it was made for people like myself.

I was ecstatic! It sounded too good to be true, I applied and was accepted into their program! I set my sights on really doing well and focusing this time around
to make the grade and get myself into TV. The course was only one year, and while in this program I learned a lot about Photography, Video, and became friends with
the most amazing bunch of people. I was again in another element mode. My grades were great, I was creating awesome work with a great team of people! And had many, many great memories. And in the end, I graduated for that one year course with a certificate, a great achievement for myself, but that wasn’t the end.

The moment of truth came, I applied once more, and in the end I was finally accepted into the Television broadcasting course at Mohawk College.
The experience I under went was probably the greatest lesson I’ll ever learn, Failure is not fatal, it does not hurt us. Failures in life were meant to make us stronger,
overcoming adversity in life is apart of the game. We will win some, we will lose some, much like anything in life. The point is, if you’re truly passionate about something
and you set your sights and really focus on your goals, you can achieve anything! It might not be today, might not be tomorrow, but as long as you never give up, you will get where you need to be eventually. Have faith and believe in what you do, for at the end of the day, it’s all we got.

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