The mechanics of producing a show, whether for TV, radio or live events, might seem relatively simple. But in reality, show production with its moving parts and myriad of roles can be incredibly overwhelming to the uninitiated.
Enter SMU Broadcast & Entertainment (SMUBE), the tireless team of media savvy students that supports almost every campus event – from hosting and engaging crowds to setting up sound systems and putting together every perfect event backdrop.
SMU Snapshots caught up with Samuel Tan and Zekiel Hong, president and vice-president of the club, to get educated on the full force of the media powerhouse.
The opportunities are almost endless
Samuel and Zekiel, both business students, met through SMUBE. Uncannily, they belonged to the sound teams in their respective churches and joined with the same goal: to level up their audio technical skills. Although they joined SMUBE for one department, they quickly grew interested in the other things that the club had to offer.
“We began to explore the other departments. Besides gaining experience in audio, we have learnt so much about the other aspects of media. SMUBE pretty much blew our expectations,” Samuel says.
With the numerous roles that are open to anyone who is willing to step up, Samuel and Zekiel agree that keeping an open mind is the key to maximising the club’s diversity. From specialising in audio, Zekiel has branched out to dabble with the more creative side of media, in TV and event hosting. “I really get to experience a lot of things that I never knew I could possibly do. I think that is what really surprised us – we gave it a shot and were exposed to a whole lot of new things,” he says of his journey with SMUBE.
Zekiel adds that an open mind is also valuable for people already in the media industry. When things deviate from the original plan–like it does during filming, recording and hosting–it is important to experiment and be creative with other alternatives. Having thick skin is a big plus for emcees and radio DJs, who often have to deal with unplanned events.
Taking charge of your learning curve
Besides sound engineering, which falls under the Events & Backstage wing, there are also the Artiste Management Team, Campus Radio, Campus TV and a new addition to the four wings – Marketing & Communications.
While trainings are separate, the wings often collaborate for bigger events like the staging of productions and shows. It also helps that many members become interested to expand their involvement along the way, picking up skills that give them a better understanding of the overview operations. Samuel elaborates on the many opportunities available for those who want to learn.
“We have a lot of members who join with no prior experience in media production, and end up becoming really good at what they enjoy doing. When you start out in year one, there are weekly trainings to go for. After that, commitment is on a project basis. We have a voluntary sign-up system where members decide for themselves what they want to learn and how much experience they want to gain.”
Sharpened communication skills
Because of the sheer number of people that SMUBE engages with–many of the clubs in school have enlisted their help at one point–communication is at the heart of what they do. There are also many opportunities to meet people from the media industry, during which the team learns the importance of clear communication. Samuel elaborates on what he has learnt about communication over the past two years.
“It’s about getting the message across and making sure that you interpret the client’s message properly. Different organisers have different expectations. Sometimes when they engage you, they are unsure of what they want and that’s when we come in to give our advice. We have to ensure that the brief is clear, expectations are aligned, and we are all on the same page.”
Besides ensuring productive working relationships, good communication is also vital for SMUBE’s broadcast wings. In TV and radio, the emcees focus on storytelling in designing their shows and creating storyboards. Zekiel shares the importance of crafting engaging entertainment.
“We usually design four shows for SMU Patrons’ Day. Every single one has to be thoughtfully designed to engage the audience and keep them entertained. The last thing we want is for people to be waiting around for the main acts to arrive. We have our own clubs and activities to weave into the programmes too.”
You get out what you put in
Like with most things, the success that you achieve is proportional to the quality and quantity of the effort that you put in. Zekiel shares that when he first started out, he wasn’t proficient at shooting films or recording. But with the experience gained over numerous opportunities in the past two years, he has seen for himself how experience and hard work pays off.
“Just persevere. A lot of persistence and perseverance is required if you want to do well and keep pushing to get to that next level. The media industry has a lot of niche skills that takes practice to develop. But you really get to a certain level with experience.”