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In their own words: Getting students fired up for film

IN THEIR OWN WORDS
University of Puthisastra launches Cambodia’s first campus TV station run by and for students

Inspired by his undergraduate days working on productions for Leeds Student Television, Max Doherty decided to spearhead Cambodia’s first wholly student-managed, conceptualised and catered-for university television station. Calling it University of Puthisastra Student Television (UPSTV), Doherty desires for the university to enter student video competitions and develop international collaborations with other university video clubs.

What were you doing previously before coming to Cambodia?

Previously, I was producing promotional videos for AIESEC (Association for International Students in Economics and Commerce) exchange programmes and creating a video for AIESEC International Youth Conference. I was also involved in production work for the BBC and Tate Gallery of Modern Art and spent nearly a year in Uganda as an AIDS volunteer, educating youths about the risks of infection and transmission of STDs.

What was the inspiration for the idea of setting up a film club?
I was a member of a similar club at the University of Leeds, and when I heard that there was no equivalent in Cambodia, I became very excited about the prospect of starting one here. I think Cambodia is in a fascinating transition to modernity, and seeing this from a Cambodian viewpoint will be very interesting.

How did you select the university to be the host or originator of this initiative? Why was it suitable?
The University of Puthisastra is a dynamic new university which has an excellent open-minded approach to new ideas. University of Puthisastra aims to provide a more exciting student experience and a vibrant campus culture which is currently lacking in Cambodian universities. UP plans to increase the number of choices available to its students by improving extracurricular activities.

How will UPSTV build external relationships and increase the professional exposure of students?
UPSTV will build relationships with local production companies by inviting filmmakers to conduct training seminars, bringing in individuals to judge UPSTV videos, making trips to shooting locations and eventually having members undertake internships. Activities include film and editing training, group video projects, film screening events, international film competitions and film video trips. UPSTV will very rapidly build relationships with the broader community especially the Phnom Penh video/film and media scene.

How can UPSTV build global recognition and advancement of UP?
Entries to international film competitions aim to attract attention from media, government and other universities as some of the only student videos from Cambodia being submitted. Winning these competitions would be an extra credential and sense of accomplishment for UPSTV and the institution.

What type of students do you hope will participate in this project?
No prior experience making videos will be necessary for successful application. The essential attributes for a UPSTV member to possess are enthusiasm, dedication and above all creativity. I want members to develop their own unique styles.

What aspects of Cambodian culture/lifestyle or history do you hope to have students examine?
I hope that students’ films will help portray how the country is changing and give an idea about where Cambodian society is headed. I’m not particularly interested in endlessly dragging the Khmer Rouge period onto the screen. I feel it’s a shame that ‘Khmer Rouge’ is the first thing that comes to mind when Cambodia is mentioned to foreigners. I want to force students to be creative and display Cambodia’s rapidly changing society in innovative ways.

What is the objective of the film club in educating/informing students?
Long-term active membership of the club will produce an individual who is very well-placed to seek employment in TV/film production. I would also like to see the club’s members making critical observations on the world around them and developing a culture of questioning norms when making documentary films.

What external services do you hope to benefit external organizations and the local community?
UPSTV will very rapidly build a relationship with the broader community especially the Phnom Penh video/film and media scene. Eventually I want to be producing young filmmakers of a good enough calibre to intern in local production companies.

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