Fijian filmmaker and broadcaster Clarence Dass is a star at Asia Media Summit 2013 in Manado, Indonesia, this week.
First, he won the coveted World TV Award in the Science and Environment category, for his futuristic, dramatized film titled “A Day at the Beach” made for and broadcast by Fiji Broadcasting Corporation (FBC) TV.
That earned him US$ 5,000 prize money, a trophy and a certificate – as well as an all expenses paid trip to Manado, where he just collected them in front of 350 broadcast managers and professionals from across Asia Pacific.
To top it up, he then spoke passionately and articulately during a session on taking action for sustainable development: how can media help?
While TV productions are all team work, public speaking is a solo art. Coming last of five panelists and youngest among them, Clarence made the most perceptive and practical remarks of all.
I maybe a bit biased, because he is an alumnus of a regional training workshop on ozone and media issues that I helped conduct in February in Kuala Lumpur. At the end of that workshop, we asked all participants to go home and make short films to enter for this year’s World TV Award.
Clarence would have done well in any case. Now in his early 30s, he has been active in Fiji media since 2001, having started in newspapers as a music journalist, before moving onto radio presenting/producing and then TV production.
He is very digitally savvy, but as his panel remarks showed, also people savvy.
“Today, we have to produce media on-the-go for people who are constantly on the go,” he said. “We have to find ways to bring sustainable development elements into this.”
In “A Day at the Beach”, Clarence imagines a futuristic, climate ravaged Fiji and the Pacific in 2063. A young girl asks: did it have to be this way? Wasn’t there something earlier generations could do?
A bit evocative of The Age of Stupid movie (2009), which I had mentioned during our training. But it’s a universal theme.
Clarence offered some advice from his station’s experience. Key among them is to mix information with entertainment, so as to attract and sustain audiences who are constantly distracted these days.
“As Fiji’s national broadcaster, we provide info-tainment and edu-tainment programmes all the time,” he said.
Other nuggets of wisdom from the amiable Pacific islander:
* Always ask for whom we are creating content. Knowing and profiling our audience is essential.
* We must make our content engaging. We need to find the right level so our programming appeals to both between laymen and experts.
* Beware of using too many effects and gimmicks, which can dilute the message. How much creativity is too much? Every producer has to ask that question.
* Small scale broadcasters in developing countries have to make content interesting on very limited budgets. Funding is a huge issue. But if managed properly, limited funds can still be made to go a long way.
A Day at the Beach Trailer