Society Spotlight: Be a short film director at UniTV

Create your own tele-vision

In re/fresher’s fair, UniTV was armed with a professional filming camera. Many guessed they were filming that specific corner of the humongous fair for its entire duration, but the camera was turned off, really. As the goofiest of media societies, UniTV modestly brands itself “the student TV station at the University of Sussex”.

One look at unitvlive YouTube channel, though, shows that the society is bursting with talent, creativity and a spirit for performance, and after receiving 12 National Student Television Awards over their 5-year existence, proving those who think Media Practice is a waste of time wrong. I got to learn how the society works and what perks members get while on the job.

UniTV’s year-long membership costs about as much as a jägerbomb at a popular club night – £5. While one is a sickeningly sweet portent of early morning regurgitations and afternoon hangovers, the other gives you indirect access to equipment like professional filming cameras, filming studios and editing software that usually costs more than a month’s rent.

And those are only the material perks. Editing and filming videos in line with acceptable standards requires experience. There’s plenty of that to go around in UniTV and, as a society that sees new faces every term, they ensure to pass it on. New members often shadow or become runners on-set – a fun, relaxed environment to meet new people – and are able to attend video-editing workshops available on request.

Finally, there are FREE PRESS PASSES! For example, reviewing the “official” fresher’s festival Boundary Brighton without having to pay a penny on the entrance. What is some hands-on, practical experience gained from that endeavour? We heard it’s funny how much gurning partiers like being interviewed by a camera crew.

One of UniTV’s Executive Producers said it is a society that produces content “by the students, for the students”. Invoking the Gettysburg Address makes their humble Facebook group sound like an impressive pillar of democracy. But like any student-run group knows, the key to accessibility, productivity, and cohesion in any collective endeavour is Facebook.

UniTV’s main Facebook group will send at least one notification on a quiet working day, but this ignores the sub-Facebook groups, dedicated to each regular show, short film, and annual project. In these groups they organise filming times and crews, delegating different roles like “camera”, “sound”, “runners” etc. Participating in your favourite UniTV show is as easy as joining its Facebook group, providing a literal stream of opportunities for involvement.

Standard shot emphasising the determination of UniTV filmmakers at work in the studio.

This may all be dizzying for new members. Anyone interested in joining can attend the weekly general meeting, held at 5 p.m. every Wednesday, to get their bearings. These meetings feature updates on ongoing projects, crew-calls for upcoming projects, and project pitches. Yes, you can pitch your dream short film starring you as God Himself and initiate its production process, provided you can drum up enough support.

Other than our routine week-to-week activities, UniTV is involved in major annual events. The society host and live stream Candidate Question Time during election season every year. Those contesting elected Students’ Union positions are interviewed about their policy proposals and whether they are Team Cat or Team Dog. UniTV also regularly attend the annual National Student Television Awards (a.k.a. NaSTAs). Although awards are the main focus, the NaSTAs are a perfect opportunity to interact with industry professionals and critics.

UniTV has a list of themed shows including but not limited to The Beauty Bible, Let’s Cook, and Sketches and Series. Other successes include a NaSTA-winning mockumentary that explores what could happen if Hogwarts students conducted an exchange with Sussex students, coming here to study a course on muggles.

Inspired by the popular Black Mirror series, UniTV’s latest and proudest short film production, Beautiful Corps, asks what happens in a world where corporations say “Why be you when you can be perfect?”

For those who want some production experience, the chance to produce quality content, and be part of an inspired, fun and successful team, UniTV is a great society.