Alumnus profile: Andrew Gunadie, MIT '08

Andrew GunadieHe graduated from Western only in 2008, but has managed to pack in more activities than it seems possible to accomplish in so few years. Filmmaker, editor, multimedia specialist, actor, singer, songwriter, teacher, administrator and former intern for the show Canada’s Next Top Model are all things he can include on his resume.

Currently the Senior Coordinator, Multimedia Content, for the Toronto International Film Festival, Gunadie is responsible for capturing and documenting the year-round events and activities at the new TIFF Bell Lightbox building in Toronto. He also prepares trailers and other video content for TIFF, and is working on launching a YouTube channel.

“I am the first multimedia producer that TIFF has had in-house, which definitely shows how times are changing,” he explains.

His interest in all things media was cultivated as a student in both the Media Theory and Production and the Media, Information and Technoculture programs in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies. Gunadie first completed the MTP program, and he then returned as an MIT student to upgrade to an honors degree. His time in university helped him to work out where his future might lie.

“Going into Western, I wasn't totally sure what I wanted to do, though I did learn very quickly what I DIDN'T want to do. I thought I liked English and film -- I was wrong,” says Gunadie.

Instead he found himself swept up in a new program, designed to give students both a solid theoretical background in media, as well as the technical skills to back it up. The MTP program is a joint venture between FIMS and Fanshawe College that allows students to graduate with both a degree and a diploma in media production. It also has a mandatory internship component, which in Gunadie’s case helped to launch him into the television industry as an intern with Canada’s Next Top Model.

“CNTM was great because it was a smaller crew, and I actually got to have a significant role in the post-production process: I logged, digitized, catalogued, transcribed and eventually got to edit a short segment that went to air. I also got to go on set, and just absorb everything I could about the whole process of producing television.”

Gunadie’s most public claim to fame might be his involvement in the creation of the music video “Canadian, Please”, which was posted on YouTube in 2009. In the video, Gunadie and a friend, dressed as Mounties, dance and sing about why everyone wants to be Canadian.

Canadian Please"’Canadian, Please’ was a music/video collaboration between me and a longtime friend, Julia Bentley. We wrote the song in a night, and recorded the video the next day,” explains Gunadie.

“We knew Canada Day was coming up, and we thought it would be a great topical video and a chance to show our Canadian pride, but we didn't anticipate what kind of reaction we would receive.”

The video was picked up at the time by numerous media outlets and broadcast across social media venues. It is now approaching three million views on YouTube. Gunadie and his friend even had the opportunity to perform the song live at the Olympic Torch Relay in Niagara Falls, prior to the Olympics in Vancouver.

“For me, that was probably the highlight of the whole experience,” he says.

Gunadie has found other places to apply his musical skills. While still a student at Western, and after he graduated, he spent time working at a Yamaha Music School as a teacher and an administrator, managing a small faculty of 10 teachers. In recent years he notes he’s been able to tie his filmmaking background to the school by producing videos for Yamaha.

Gunadie continues to be interested in the filmmaking possibilities that YouTube provides, and the way that it is able to connect the producers of content with their audience.

“I produce a wide array of comedy and music videos, and I'm really interested in finding ways to engage viewers and work collaboratively. Many of my videos have been inspired by user comments and suggestions. It's very different than traditional broadcast media, because you're able to interact directly and instantaneously with the viewer,” he says.

Gunadie believes that his time in FIMS helped to broaden his horizons and prepare him for life in an increasingly varied and complicated media industry.

“The career path for an MIT grad might not be explicitly laid out, but I think that's what makes it great -- you'll have the skill set to do a lot of things. It's just up to you to choose,” he says.

FIMS Senior Academic Counsellor Kathie Hess still keeps in touch with Gunadie and follows his progress. She remembers him as a student who stuck out in the crowd in many ways.

“He was a role model for many students in both the MTP and MIT programs – driven, focused, incredibly creative. Before he graduated from the Faculty, he was on my ‘grads to watch’ list. Andrew really knows how to relate to people and I’m not surprised that he has found success so quickly,” she says.

“He wasn’t just another talented, hard-working and intelligent student. He was so involved and connected to FIMS faculty, staff and students that to say he was ‘unforgettable’ isn’t an exaggeration.”

Gunadie operates at full throttle, which is how he would like things to stay in the future. He hopes to stay involved in a range of activities that make him happy and that allow him to tap into his creativity.

“And busy -- I clearly like to stay busy,” he says, adding “I actually think I'd like to get into teaching, mentoring. I'm trying to gain all the experience I can right now. Maybe you'll see me back at Western ...”