Porto’s off-beat television Canal180 has been around for a few years now. Its regular broadcast includes short films and videos on social media spheres, its representatives or enthralling events. Canal180 simply labels these topics as ‘the other stories’ which attract an increasing number of viewers and have earned it a high recognition as a TV channel provider. We got some answers on creative thinking and innovative solutions from their executive producer Luis Fernandes during the Art & Tech Days festival. Get ready for footage of Košice from all angles since these guys zoomed at the city during their stay through their lenses. We’ll deliver it to you soon.
Your channel is also known for videos of NOS Primavera Sound festival. Where do you guys get the ideas to produce something new each year?
Definitely, one of the main reasons for it is that we’re surrounded by such an amazing group of people at Canal180. I wouldn’t call it a one-man or two-man show, rather a work representing the whole group. Due to constant contact with the international network, we always get inspired and find something new. I guess another aspect to that is a regular stream of fresh ideas coming from external collaborations, interns, freelancers and so on. The beautiful thing about communicating the music genre is that you can mix styles and aesthetics, there’s no such thing as a settled script to it. It’s just a visual message you want to pass on so you’re quite free to get inspired as much as possible.
Do you allow a collective thinking/production to take place and the decision process based on the agreement within the whole group? Or is just one person needed to persuade the others on his inventive design?
We actually sometimes do have a big discussion about workflows and processes that go hand in hand with them. Things should be more clear, more organized. When you see a new addition to Canal180, it’s got its distinctive features and represents the channel. We usually give our outputs with a Canal180 signature and when it comes to certain genres as documentaries, for example, the name of a director who put a personal insight into it is added. Most of the time, however, it is a work ‘of many hands’ as you might say.
Do you also take criticism for the work you’ve done?
We tend to criticize each other in our internal circle in both a positive and constructive way. Moreover, we get criticism or feedback from the outside world or interns/freelancers all the time. I believe that being open to communication is the first step in doing nice work.
Canal180 is known for the presentation of ‘the other stories’. How long does the creative process take if one wants to provide the inventive design?
It depends, but sometimes it’s quite quick, actually. Talking about music festivals, one faces two types of content. One is when things happen in a hurry and you’ve got to make short and prompt footage of it for Instagram, let’s say. Most of the content that I’ve shown at the Art & Tech Days workshop, however, was of a longer duration and we don’t want these categories to be connected to a specific date of release. We talk about higher topics, higher discussion – not simply how the artist performed. Of course, this type of content can take longer in terms of its production.
I asked this question so as to find out whether you see some correlation between the production time period and the actual quality of the video itself.
To be honest, when talking about Canal180, I strongly feel that we’re super lucky to have such an amount of bright minds gathered together. It is a very interesting group of shy people focused on doing their stuff and following what’s happening in the world. We are the other stories, the other television – so when we talk about what’s going on around we want to provide the opposite of the mainstream – the counter-culture. Going one direction makes lean towards the other option. If there’s a huge video production, maybe all of it could go back to making more photos. If the market’s full of digital photos, we could opt for more of the analogue ones. What I’m saying is simply a metaphor: when people are not happy about the stuff they do, the idea of a difference is what challenges them to move forward and try new things.
Doesn’t the image of making something creative and original – new – each year, contradict what is typical for known names? What’s the relationship between innovative/inventive vs. the brand’s face?
It changes. Yet from what we all saw together during the workshop is that the videos somehow still maintain some recurring patterns. It’s a little bit of everything – topics and ways they are approached with, styles and their blends, various techniques, platforms. Since we sign it with Canal180 production, you understand it as a whole. We are not searching for what painters, for example, have – their own distinction in art. We see ourselves as an editorial platform so what we present – the other stories, are the subjects we want to talk about. And if somebody else portrays the same thing, perfect. We don’t have any problem with that.
Do you ever feel bounded/trapped by commercial assignment or task that you’ve signed up for? Are there any inclinations towards restricting your creative potential when you’re basically given an order for doing an advertising video?
I think it’s an editorial discussion for people who work on it. There exists a certain tendency in having two totally separate worlds of the artists and the sellers who ‘vend to the devil’. But we ask ourselves: why should we be or think like that? As a matter of fact, brands sometimes allow us to do something that’s relevant since they create a market for opportunities. I’m not on the side of big commercial doers, but to me, the interesting issue is to find the balance between an authorial and more commercial work. As a media and editorial platform that we are, we try to find brands that come to us and let us do things so we form partnerships later. In that way, both parties can communicate the topic together and not just sell it. I think we should approach everything as a process of learning.
Last question: what’s your impression of Art & Tech Days festival?
This has been my second year and I focused more on what was going on than the previous year. I got super excited these days because you’ve invited me again which means you’d been following the work we do. Secondly, I really liked the workshop that we had and surprising outcomes that it led to, concerning both groups. Especially, when we consider the non-specific assignment the groups were given – to make up a design and its media presentation for whatever popped up in their heads. That was really challenging. What I specifically liked about the festival, however, was the fact that you guys created this international conference to a local audience with such a forward-thinking topic as artificial intelligence. A huge role played the interdisciplinary linking of AI and its effects in plenty of other fields, areas, for instance: science, cancer research, art, start-ups or philosophy, and humane approach. During one day, I was able to realize how people who were sitting at the conference and work on designing AI machines need to understand all kinds of aspects and spheres it eventually has consequences on. Due to the fact of learning how to learn and analyzing all these approaches from various perspectives, I believe it was a very relevant and interesting conference.
Guys from Canal180 covered all kinds of flavours of Košice during their stay. If you’d like to see some of it, stay patient and brace yourself for some blasting piece of a picturesque explosion of the city you’d like to live in. And that only after one video view. Get ready, it’s coming sooner than you think.
photo: Jakub Jančo