Every year, Centre for Arts & Technologies Digital Film students are paired up with local companies to shoot a corporate video. This ‘live’ project is part of the Business of Video and Film course and is done in partnership with Accelerate Okanagan.
“Accelerate Okanagan is a tech accelerator – we help technology and tech-enabled companies start and grow their businesses,” says Brea Retzlaff, Director of Operations. “We provide mentorship programs to help companies build their business models. And, on the flip side, we do community building. A stronger tech community helps to rise the tide of all the tech companies we work with; I think that is really where this partnership with the Centre for Arts & Technology started.“
This collaboration has been running since 2014, during which time over 60 companies and students have participated – and benefited.
“The partnership was initiated by myself and Victor Poirier sitting down to discuss how Accelerator Okanagan could be working more with the Centre for Arts and Technology,” Retzlaff explains. “Victor said he was looking for real industry clients that the students could work with in order to have that real-world experience. I said we have a large database of clients – and are constantly working with new ones – and it would be a real win for these early-stage start-ups to get a profession video that they could include on their website. That was how it started.”
The project’s selection process echoes how it would operate in the real world.
“Typically, we put out the call for proposals. The company says who they are, what their company does, what kind of video projects they are wanting, and why the students should want to work with them – it’s a bit of a pitch to the students really. This is neat because it makes the companies work a little harder, and helps them to understand that it is a quality project they are going to get,” says Brea.
“We compile the applications and then hand them over to Victor who curates them, and then it is based on the kinds of projects that pique the individual students’ interests because we want them to do work they are going to be excited about.”
Companies that have participated in the project have ranged from Purppl, social enterprise accelerator, to SoilMate.com, a website that connects consumers with their local food and drinks growers, raisers, producers, and supporters.
“In the first go-round I think we had about ten different companies apply, and I think six of them got chosen by your students,” Retzlaff remembers.
“The first applicant companies were tech-focused, but more recently I would say they are tech-enabled companies. It’s any kind of company that is using tech at the core of their business.”
The partnership has created a win-win scenario, in more ways than one.
“We wanted a better flow of students working with local companies, so hopefully when they graduate they can stay here and freelance, work for themselves, or work within one of the companies.”
“Everyone has been very, very pleased with the videos, and use them in multiple ways – either on social media or embedded on their websites. Accelerate Okanagan has even had a video done.”
“It was important to offer students an opportunity to develop the skills of working with a live client in a safe and educationally pertinent environment,” says Victor Poirer, Department Head of Digital Film. “Accelerate Okanagan’s business incubator was a perfect fit, as it offered not only a wide range of organizations and opportunities for our students to work with, it also meant that established production companies were not being negatively impacted by students going to the wider business community offering free work in return for their services.”