Exactly one month today (04/04/12), I visited BEN TV and OHTV! Not alone though, it was an excursion organized by the Nigerian Students’ Society of Birmingham City University under the leadership of Miss Amuta. I’ll save you the gist of the night before (remember I can’t sleep before any ‘big day’) and start from the train ride to meet the team at Tottenham Hale.
Can I say again that every time I get on a train here, I’m reminded how much I love the peace predictability brings with it? That again is a story for another day.
I got to BEN TV ok; fortunately the building housing the television studios is opposite the station so I didn’t have too much trouble. Especially since there’s absolutely no signage outside! Even inside the building, sigh. And by now we must know I’m horrible with directions!
Once inside, looking around was reminiscent of my days in television; very recently as an intern at BBC West Midlands.
I learnt quite a few things there, one of them the simple reason the EPG (Electronic Programme Guide) might be saying one thing but you’re watching something totally different. Ask nicely if you didn’t already know and I’ll tell you!
It was a privilege for us to meet the CEO of BEN TV, Allistia Soyode; an unassuming but very confident man. It was also a privilege for us to make a 10 minute interview recording with him, he answering questions about the birth and growth of BEN TV, challenges he faces by the day, and yes the extremely silly question about his ‘short term plans’. After he said the station’s been running for 10 years? SMH!
Mr Soyode said something remarkable when I asked about his company’s ‘relationship’ with social media, especially in these days of the struggle for ‘dominance’ between traditional and citizen journalism. He said, “social media is more Western than African. The people using social media in Africa are people who don’t make decisions; so it’s not the politicians, the government, or business owners. It is used more by the pretentious youth (in Africa), and people in the West”. Of course I don’t agree with him, but what do you think?
It was a beautiful visit there though, and I must doff my hat at the courage to pursue the BEN TV dream, and then the tenacity to keep working at it, 10 years later.
After taking pictures, we were off to the station to catch the underground to Vauxhall, home to OHTV. The 25 minutes ride gave me the opportunity to catch up on my novel, Fatal Cure by Robin Cook, and in no time, we were getting off.
We got to OHTV an hour behind schedule (polite phrase for ‘late’), were met and shown around by the delectable Lola (@Lola_Ebony on Twitter). We went straight to the studios and were introduced to Mirat, a director par excellence (in my opinion). He talked us through the equipment/software OHTV uses, gave us a crash course in directing (one for me in sound), and then we all had a go either at presentation, directing, or managing light and sound.
First thing that struck me about OHTV was the attention and consequently funds given to/for infrastructure; really impressive! Amongst other things, everything is produced in HD, and like BEN TV, everyone is trained to be a multi-skilled operator (MSO).
While we were prepping for the mini recording, Patrick Campbell, Creative Director at OHTV and producer of the award-winning Mirror Boy (produced in conjunction with OH Films as I’d later find out), came in and gave us an earful about showing up late. *sigh*
Simulating a live programme made me appreciate (again) the amount of work that goes into good TV; especially since I was running sound. Mirat said, “working with sound during a live TV production is like playing poker, you’ve got to be fast, anticipate the next move, and act on it before anyone else (in this case the guests)”. Good experience that was!
Then we went upstairs, met and said hello to the receptionist, accounts executive, production manager, head of administration, folks in the editing suite, and then we were ushered into the board room where Akin Salami (CEO OHTV) and the business development manager were meeting.
The most striking thing about OHTV for me was the atmosphere; was pretty easy and laid back. And even though I know they must have their ‘crazy’ days, it looked like everyone genuinely wanted to be there!
Turned out to be an exciting hour tracing the growth of OHTV, exploring the cutting edge technology OHTV is dabbling in, and getting tons of life lessons from Mr Salami. Below are some nuggets I jotted down, thank me later.
- On starting OH Films, “content is king but it is the guy who shoots/makes the film who makes the money”
- On showcasing your talent, “visibility sells. Put something out with your picture in it. Someone somewhere will see, and not forget”
- On staying ahead, “first person with the idea is a leader; first person with the best adaptation of that idea is the one who will stay around for long”
- On OH TV, “can you do good stuff, make money by doing it and still keep your respect? We wanted to show that good TV could be clean”
At some point we had to leave so my mates would catch their ride back to Birmingham but not before we’d taken more pictures!
Shout out to OHTV for the love they showed, the very warm reception, and for the gifts they gave!