Culture Critic Freya George meets Henry Wilson, James Hill and Annabel Lawton Smith of Guild TV.

History student with a penchant for journalism.
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Images by Guild TV , University of Birmingham.

As a member of both Guild TV and Redbrick, I thought somehow integrating the two and introducing one to the other would be a great opportunity. Readers of Redbrick can find out a bit more about what we all get up to. So I interviewed three of the members to give you an insight. Firstly, Henry Wilson, who joined this year and has already made a huge impact; secondly, James Hill the more experienced Guild TV member of two years and, finally, Annabel Lawton Smith, the committee member.

Here are the findings from my series of interviews.

 Henry Wilson (The Rookie) 

  1. Tell us about yourself.

My name is Henry Wilson and I’m from Hereford. I am a first year history student.


  1. Why did you choose to study at Birmingham?

I chose Birmingham because I knew it was a good university. But what was also important was finding a university that had a TV society of some sort. This was another key reason why I chose to study here. Also I thought that with Birmingham being such a large city, I thought it would have good employment opportunities.


  1. So clearly being involved with a TV society was important but why did you decide to get involved with Guild TV?

I’m really interested in broadcast journalism so I really wanted to get experience in this field. I am really considering this as a potential career. Also, I did not want to join a society that was just focused on acting and drama, as I wanted to learn more and do more than just acting. But crucially, I wanted to gain experience of TV and what it involves, as I am quite career-driven.


  1. What are your favourite aspects of Guild TV?

There are so many good aspects to Guild TV. Firstly, the team are great. They spend so much time teaching you and it’s such a relaxed atmosphere. Also, they don’t pressure you to do anything and are not condescending at all if you don’t understand something. They’re so supportive. It is such a ‘member-based’ society in that if you ask to be taught something, they will teach you. I would love to give back in some way to the society who has given me so much these past three months.


  1. Tell us a bit more about the recent film challenge you starred in.

It was something I was interested in getting involved in and it was enjoyable for so many reasons. It was great being involved in all parts of the process and also do some quite intensive filming as it was filmed only over a few days. I also got to do some improvisation and comedy type stuff that I enjoy too.


  1. So you enjoy being in front of the camera more than being behind it?

Well I did used to get quite nervous at being in front of the camera even though I have some experience appearing in other videos and short films. But the recent filming I have done has proved to me that this is the part that I enjoy and I’m not bad at it! But I do owe it to being Guild TV for the opportunities and boost in my confidence. In 6 months I find it much easier being in front of the camera and this change is all down to Guild TV.


  1. Are you thinking of pursuing a career in the media?

Oh yes. It’s really what I want to do. I’m hoping to do work experience throughout my time at university. For example, this summer I’m planning to work at a radio station near where I live in Hereford. It’s called ‘Sunshine Radio’. I just can’t think of anything else I’d rather than do than be in the media.


  1. Why would recommend joining the society and what advice would you give to someone who is thinking of joining?

I would recommend joining for many reasons. There is no minimal requirement and no experience required prior to joining. It has so many different areas you can get into and be trained in. It is also quite a small society – there is a group of really dedicated people who want to help you. It is such a confidence-boosting society especially if you’re not keen on sport or anything like that. I would definitely throw yourself into it and the beauty is you can do as little, or as much, as you want. Also, as someone who does a humanities degree, I have minimal contact hours so it is advantageous for me but doing a scientific degree either shouldn’t stop you because it works if you want to make it work and are prepared to put the time in. The society is quite loosely structured too and you’ll get some great opportunities but you must also be pro-active. The impetus is on you if you want to succeed in the society too.


See Henry in action in the short film challenge video entitled ‘Going Public’ here:


James Hill (The Experienced One)


  1. Tell us about yourself.

I am a second year undergraduate studying history and Spanish. I am involved in all three forms of student media: Redbrick, Burn FM and Guild TV. But Guild TV is the best of the three!


  1. Why did you choose to study at Birmingham?

Well… an unconditional offer may have helped! But no, it was the city I loved and the fact that this university has such a great campus with a great city nearby.


  1. Why did you decide to get involved with Guild TV?

The way I got involved is actually down to one person: Matt Lavender [the Head of Production at Guild TV]. He was my history ‘parent’ when I first joined and he introduced me to Guild TV. So I came down with him to a meeting and I stayed because I enjoyed it so much.


  1. What are your favourite aspects of Guild TV?

I love the relaxed atmosphere. It is not overly intense which is comforting. Also I love the socials that the society organises. That’s a great part.


  1. Tell us a bit your experiences in Guild TV.

Well there have been so many! The great thing about the society is all the opportunities they have to offer. I’ve had a go a filming many really fun and interesting events. For example, I went to the Clothes Show that is quite a famous (and expensive) event that I was able to get in for free because of being in Guild TV. Also I was involved in ‘ValeFest’ last year that was enjoyable, but so tiring. I worked for 16 hours straight but it was a great learning experience because I was able to gain lots of presenting experience in the process. I am also filming a play that I wrote entitled ‘When Romeo met Juliet’, which has really become my baby and a project I’m really proud of. I owe Guild TV for allowing me to film it. They are supportive of anything you want to pursue which is another great thing about the society.


  1. Are you thinking of pursuing a career in the media?

Yes, possibly. I enjoy many of the aspects of the media. I’ve tried camera operating, sound editing and presenting and have really developed my skillset as a result of the society. This means I do feel I am equipped if I do decide to. But I’m still unsure.


  1. Why would recommend joining the society and what advice would you give to someone who is thinking of joining?

I think you should join the society because it has got something for everyone. If you want to get involved in any aspect of the media or TV or anything like that then Guild TV is the way to do. There is no other place where you can learn these skills while at university.


Here is a clip from ValeFest 2014:


Annabel Lawton Smith (The Committee Member)


  1. Tell us about yourself.

I’m Annabel. I’m from Oxford and I am a second year chemistry student.


  1. Why did you choose to study at Birmingham?

I just really liked the university!


  1. Why did you decide to get involved with Guild TV?

Well before university, I actually did have a huge interest in TV or film or anything. I’d made a few casual videos with my friends using very basic editing software but really didn’t have a great interest in it. It was just by chance when I was at the societies fair when I first joined Birmingham that I saw the Guild TV stand – and thought ‘that looks fun!’ So I gave it go and didn’t look back. Little did I know that this small decision has fundamentally changed my life and my perspective for the future…


  1. Tell me about your role in the committee. What made you decide to run for a position?

I am Head of Tech at Guild TV which means I am in charge of the equipment and teaching people how to operate it all, especially the cameras, really. This was always the side I was interested in and when I first joined I spoke to the existing Head of Tech and he taught me all I know. I became heavily involved in setting up for our live show ‘Birmingham Goes Live’ (BGL) and since then I’ve done it. I ran for the position because there was no one else really. There are few people who are interested in this side of things but I love it. I think setting up cameras is great fun! I love science, technology and numbers to it’s great and in my election speech for the role I really pushed for the creation of a form of ‘tech team’ and gradually we’re getting there with that. The great thing about the tech part it is easy to learn and after a few tries, you’re ready. It’s just everyone thinks it is the boring part and just want to do the presenting instead. What people don’t always appreciate is the society and all we produce cannot operate without technology and what we do.  But the society is so open and you are given the opportunity to do what you want, and if that is tech – that’s great!


  1. What is your proudest achieved in Guild TV?


Well I think that would have to be the filming of the American Football match: ‘xpLosION’. The Station Manager, Ugne, and I were the driving force behind this. I had not intended to be the producer for this but I ending up becoming it because it was so heavily reliant on the tech part. It was a stressful period but I am so proud of how it turned out. It all went so smoothly! Basically, the captain of the team was initially very reluctant to let us film but I had arranged to have a meeting with him and succeeded in convincing him that it would fine – and he did eventually agree. It was amazing because it was such a success and I got an email from him afterward saying ‘thank you’ and even invited us to film again next year! I am so proud of that.


  1. And so you should be! That’s a great achievement, Annabel! But you have considered being in front of the camera yourself?

No, not really. It’s just not something that I am interested in. I like the making more than the being so I have no real desire to be in front of the camera and of course there is no pressure from the society for me to do that at all – so it’s great.


  1. Are you thinking of pursuing a career in the media?

Oh yes, definitely! I have no other option now! Haha! I’m really interested in a career in producing, editing or tech stuff. I plan to do some work experience in these areas this summer too. I’m just so taken by it all. Yes, it looks like it is a lot of hassle and that you have to invest so much of your time. But I choose to do this because I love it so much. I sit in lectures and think about Guild TV, I’m that devoted!


  1. Why would recommend joining the society and what advice would you give to someone who is thinking of joining?

I would recommend anyone joining because it is enjoyable, creative and flexible but is also all down to you really. You can do as much or as little as you want! But I also think it is a society where if you put the work in, you can be really proud of it. If you are thinking of a career in TV, then Guild TV is a really good pathway to this. But you do need to be proactive. You should turn up to production meetings and get involved in events. Once you’ve paid your membership, you can get involved in everything. There are so many opportunities. We are nice people and we will teach you all you need to know. We know if you’re new and that you might need extra help and that’s equally fine! If you want to attend a workshop, and you can’t, just message us and we’ll help you. You also get to use really cool equipment too!


Here is Annabel’s masterpiece, ‘xpLosION’:


Thank you to all my interviewees. They have offered us a great insight into Guild TV. If you want to find out more about the society you can follow them on Twitter and Facebook and subscribe to their YouTube channel: