In a time where influencer marketing and social media algorithms reign supreme, one must wonder about the longterm costs of our consumption. Hoping to shine light on the impact our choices make, Content Creation student Mel Kulinski is focused on the future, both in her personal goals and work she hopes to inspire others with.
Working as a Digital Technician for Amazon and having been hands-on at festivals like UNIFY Gathering and Falls Festival, Mel has experienced firsthand what makes people excited and is aiming to take these motivators and turn them into something good for the planet. From sustainability to developing her skills, we caught up with Mel to chat everything content and why transparency matters.
Hey Mel, thanks for catching up with me. I wanted to ask firstly, what's been the highlight for you so far studying Content Creation?
Probably working Falls Festival. It was incredible. I've worked at festivals in the past, but never experienced anything like that before, working on stage with industry-standard gear like that. Especially with camera operation, I've never done camera operation before and it was just a really great experience, working live amongst it all. It just made me push myself to do something different.
Mel working at Falls Festival, projecting live video on the main stage.
That’s amazing! What inspired you to study Content Creation in the first place?
I had previously studied photography and I thought it was amazing. Using studio lighting and other tools, it really developed my skills and I became proficient in photography. But then I realised, it wasn’t enough to know one thing—I needed all the other skills to help me build my own business as a freelancer. That’s why I chose to study Content Creation, to up-skill and be self-efficient with many different avenues.
Yeah, I completely understand that. Since you’re now working at Amazon, how did that come about with all these new skills at your disposal?
My job title at Amazon is Digital Technician—so a digitech. A lot of people don't know what that is, but traditionally a digitech is someone who typically sits behind the computer and when the photographer's shooting, they check images for focus, colour and ensure everything’s flowing and running smoothly. I do a lot more than just that, I do a lot of technical work and coding, ensuring the workflow is high quality.
"Transparency should be everywhere in everything. If you're not transparent, then what are you hiding?"
Wow, that's so interesting. Do you feel like working in the industry has gone hand-in-hand with your studies or vice versa?
I do video for Amazon as well as freelance as a videographer thanks to my studies. I do behind the scenes work and before studying at Collarts, I didn’t really know how to video edit. I wasn't as proficient in it as photography, so those skills I was learning in class doing videography and content have translated across into my career.
So would you say Content Creation's has helped you with the fundamentals of distinguishing what makes good media practice?
Yeah, getting a base level on everything has been so beneficial. At Amazon, I have to read and understand coding, which I didn't know anything about before studying. But since being taught web design, I'm now able to read scripts and coding. Collarts has taught me fundamental knowledge and then from there I've been able to pick things up and keep learning.
What are you wanting to achieve as a Content Creator?
I want to create a platform that’s similar to VICE, but more specific to sustainability. So it will be a platform where people go that have interests in sustainability. For example, it would have things like the process of going vegan, artists that are implementing sustainable practices and just other information on what's happening around Melbourne that’s ethical. My goals are to literally use Collarts and my final trimester to launch this media company, and to get all elements together to be able to launch it probably as soon as I finish.
"It's just the most incredible experience I've ever had, being able to go backstage and just see how everything works. Being amongst it all—it’s just nothing you've ever experienced before without Collarts. I'm gonna be sad not to have those experiences when I leave."
I love that idea. So sustainability meets youth-orientated pop culture?
For sure. The next generation care about sustainability and are our future and way forward. People actually giving a shit is on the rise so there's a gap in the market, but there's no place to get this kind of information. You have to research and find bits here and there—actively seek it. But I want to make a site where everything is there and central.
Yeah, I get what you’re saying. I feel like sustainability for brands can be performative, where so many are trying to come across ethical but really, that’s not the case at all. What’s your opinion on that?
I think they're just trying to make a quick buck and getting on the bandwagon. It shouldn't be about that. They're totally missing the whole point of it. It's about the Earth and all of us surviving and living harmoniously together. I hate brands that are just for monetary gain. That's not right. That's why I won't be showcasing those kind of brands. There'd be research into it so that you know what they actually stand for and there'll be a sense of transparency where people can see that and trust these brands.
Do you think transparency needs to be valued more in terms of mass media, and by content creators and influencers themselves?
Absolutely, transparency should be everywhere in everything. If you're not transparent, then what are you hiding? It’s all about being more conscious and actually giving a shit about what goes into something. I research things all the time and I think everything should do that—not just blindly buy something because it's fitting their need. You don't know where it's come from and the process of how it got there. And if people did know those processes for some things, would that change their mind on what they're buying? I believe it should be a deciding factor when making a purchase because ultimately what you’re doing is saying you support every aspect of the process that item went through to reach your hands.
With all this in mind, how do you feel adding another cog in the big all-consuming media monster that's now populated online?
I want to change media and take it in another direction. I don't want to be like all those other sites. I want to forge my own path and not look at them and be like, “I've got to copy that.” I think that’s really important to uphold original values of what a brand stands for and it’s important to me. That being said, if this takes off or whatever happens, I don't think I'll ever step down from it. I would always want to have input in the direction that it goes and the values that it so holds. I think that's really important and it's important to me.
Mel working at Falls Festival, projecting live video on the main stage.
"Content Creation specifically is so many different avenues and can take you so many different places so it'd be hard not to find something that you want to do. Because if you've already got an interest in content, then it's just about getting in there and start doing what resonates with you."
I love that approach. Do you think the Collarts community, be it your classmates or your teachers, have supported you and inspired you to get this idea rolling?
For sure, absolutely. Literally all of my last assignments have been dedicated to this project, so every time I get an assignment I'm like, “How can I relate this back to this?” All my teachers are like, "Yes, yes, do it, do it. Go for it!” And they're so supportive in helping me during that process in trying to create this stuff. It's not just an assignment, it's actually building blocks to make this happen.
I’m so glad you’re getting that one-on-one time so much. Earlier you mentioned Falls Festival as a personal highlight for you. In terms of working festivals for Collarts, do you feel like it's given you opportunities you never thought you'd be able to work in?
Oh, for sure. Every opportunity I've had with festivals is just incredible. Almost every experience I've had with festivals has been though Collarts. It's just the most incredible experience I've ever had, being able to go backstage and just see how everything works. Being amongst it all—it’s just nothing you've ever experienced before without Collarts. I'm gonna be sad not to have those experiences when I leave.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start out in photography or some kind of content creation field but is not really sure where to start?
Honestly, probably go to Collarts—just jump in. Because when I first was thinking about going to study, I didn't want to because I thought I knew everything and then I was very wrong. I got there and was like, "Holy shit!" I needed to go to study. I think if you're thinking about it and you don't know where to start, the best thing, honestly, is to study and then see if it's for you. And if it’s not for you, obviously you can go do something else but there’s no harm in giving something a go. Content Creation specifically is so many different avenues and can take you so many different places so it'd be hard not to find something that you want to do. Because if you've already got an interest in content, then it's just about getting in there and start doing what resonates with you.