Head of USP’s journalism department, Dr Shailendra Singh with Mr Andrew Tkach during a press conference at USP.
Award winning documentary film producer, Mr Andrew Tkach, is in the country to engage with journalism students at The University of the South Pacific (USP) and teach them broadcast journalism.
Mr Tkach has over 25 years of experience working as a producer and documentarian in some of the world's most challenging environments for major American and international networks such as CNN, NBC, CBS, PBS, National Geographic and Al Jazeera. His work has been celebrated at the highest levels of the broadcast industry winning 8 news/documentary Emmys, 2 Columbia Duponts and 2 Peabodys.
As part of his stay at USP, Mr Tkach is also presenting some of his latest work touching on crucial issues affecting people across the globe. These include: revolution in Ukraine, activism of China's artist Ai Weiwei, impact of climate change on Greenland's dog sled hunters, child labour in the goldmines of Mali and the neglect by pharmaceutical companies of tropical diseases.
Speaking about his life as a documentarian, Mr Tkach said that when he was a University student, he was already interested in making documentaries but was unsure of making a career out of it. Mr Tkach stepped into the television industry after his University project was broadcasted on CNN.
“I just did not know if it was possible because it is very difficult to make money and make a career out of it. In this business I found that it does not matter how many awards you have won. In today’s world, you are only judged by the work you do and not the degrees or grades you may have achieved,” he said.
He stated that the struggle of a filmmaker is the need to make a story interesting and believes that documentaries should be human stories and not preaching from an anonymous lecture about a particular issue. He further added that the people who are experiencing the story are the ones who can tell it best.
Mr Tkach, who is also the former producer of the American newsmagazine, ‘60 Minutes’ said that the important factor to note while making documentaries is the compression of long interviews following the drama over time and structuring a story while maintaining the standards of good journalism.
Mr Andrew Tkach in Madidi National Park, Bolivia for a 60 Minutes story "Amazon Treasure" on the discovery of a new primate species.
“These are the things that you learn from experience and if you set out on a path, you should make it interesting for the viewers,” he said.
According to Mr Tkach, journalism students at USP need more technical training and storytelling skills to produce good videos. He added that students need to shift from using print journalism techniques when filming.
Head of USP’s journalism department, Dr Shailendra Singh said that they are very lucky to have Mr Tkach at USP. He added that students have embraced the opportunity and have been closely working with Mr Tkach.
Because of the quality of documentaries produced by Mr Tkach, the journalism school with the support of the US Embassy and the Pacific Center for Environment and Sustainable Development screens his latest works every Wednesdays at 6pm until October 14 at MSP Lecture Room at USP's Lower campus in Suva.
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