By Sophia Lee | December 5, 2022
Things were pretty rocky in the beginning of the pandemic for the Albany Student Television club, but thanks to a rebranding, they have now landed on their feet as Fisheye Media.
Club members working on “The Mafia Game”
Photo Credit: @fisheyealbany on Instagram
This metamorphosis was first brought on by the abrupt departure of their long-term faculty advisor from the University at Albany, and the school’s broadcasting studio and channel came to an end.
Without a television channel, the current E-Board felt it would be misleading to keep the name Albany Student Television, and so Fisheye Media was born.
The club’s transformation reflects the changing trends in media consumption in our daily lives. Additionally, the pandemic made it a lot harder to come together as a group and film in a studio, so the club had to adapt. “When people think of Albany Student Television, it's just T.V. When really, we do a lot of multimedia stuff, [including] podcasts, filming, editing, and script writing workshops,” Fiona Hernandez, vice president of Fisheye said.
“I always pictured I was going to be a news anchor on television one day,” Hernandez said. She is a journalism major and originally joined the club because she was interested in broadcasting. Though the club doesn’t focus on that anymore, she still finds it to be valuable. “I’m very good with using Adobe Premiere Pro now. And, I've had to create two videos for my classes. So, I think it’s kind of cool.”
“We will open up as a place for people to explore filmmaking, editing, writing, and acting,” Jean-Paul Klem, president of Fisheye said. “The most honest encapsulation of what we are right now would be a student-run production company.”
Klem became president in the beginning of the Fall 2022 semester. His predecessor, Maxim Couillard, held the position last year and resurrected the club to become what it is today.
Klem said during the pandemic, they started off with the base amount of money given to a club when you don’t apply for funding, which was $400. Under Couillard’s presidency, it increased to $4,825 for the 2021-2022 fiscal year.
The budget this year nearly doubled to $7,600. This allowed the club to purchase some new equipment, a popcorn maker, and the ability to support several projects at once.
It was the treasurer, Cameron Karic, who thought of a popcorn maker for the club. Since the club’s only source of income is from the Student Association, Karic thought a popcorn maker would attract people to club events and act as an additional source of income. “People don't want to pay for tickets, but concessions are fine, because that's an optional thing,” Karic said. By charging a small fee for popcorn, they’ll be able to show films for free.
A doubled budget is exciting, but the process to actually spend it is tedious. “It probably takes a good couple of weeks for a purchase request to actually be approved. Then, the thing gets purchased and then gets sent,” said Karic. Nevertheless, he’s been able to make it work. “I got a good amount [of requests approved]. I'd say like, probably around 10 or more that I've done so far [this semester].”
The club has been staying quite busy this past year. They finished their latest film last spring, “The Mafia Game,” created by Couillard, which premiered in the Campus Center auditorium. “[It] was the first time we actually released in the auditorium, and it was actually very surprising. A lot of people came. It was very scary. It was fun,” Fisheye’s secretary Vincent Chen said.
One project being worked on this semester is “Endless Night,” which is being written and directed by Chen. He said that it is a horror film about a man who is being haunted by ghosts. More details about the film are to come. The club just wrapped up auditions and are now in their second week of filming. Chen said he hopes it will premiere next spring.
Klem attributes “The Mafia Game” as what really built momentum. Just this semester, about 70 new people joined the email list, bringing the total to about 90 active club members. “That brought on new people to sort of like this small growing club, and those members are now creating films and those films are bringing on new members.”
To join Fisheye Media, students can join their group chat on Discord, which is the main channel of communication, or follow the club’s Instagram, @fisheyealbany. There are also flyers around campus with a QR code to the club’s GroupMe.