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Michael Berger

March 2011

Michael Berger has been working as the Department of Creative Studies audio-video equipment supervisor (and all-round media tech guy) for more than 30 years and seems to have no intention on stopping anytime soon.

Born in the Mennonite town of Steinbach, Manitoba, Mike was working with visual media from an early age (he’ll tell you that he was barely standing), helping his father develop photographs for his work as a photographer in the darkroom of their family home. His family went on to build a large graphic arts industry trade plant, where Mike worked for many years. This early exposure to photography would follow Mike through his college years, right up to the day he decided to quit being the manager of an insurance inspection company in the valley, and enrol at Okanagan College to finish his degree.

Being a mature student, Mike made friends with the faculty and staff of the school, particularly with the members of the biology department. His enthusiastic, outgoing personality would later land him a position working as the biology department’s summer student assistant. That summer, during a school field trip to the west coast of Vancouver Island, Mike shared a tent with the college’s audio-visual department head. Becoming fast friends, the department head gave Mike half of his film so that he could help take photographs documenting the trip. This meeting would later prove to be kismet as the AV head was so impressed with Mike’s photographs that he offered Mike a permanent position in the AV department of the Okanagan College. Mike accepted the offer, and hasn’t looked back since.

GoPro helmut cam
kayaking on Okanagan Lake
Shuswap River camping

Working in the AV department of the Okanagan College brought Mike face to face with a new visual medium that he had yet to work with: video. Starting with open reel tapes, making the transition to VHS, and experiencing the shift to digital, Mike admits that video replaced photography as his major artistic focus. He still gets the odd job taking photos here and there, and shoots plenty in his free time, but in the end Mike settles for the creativity and accuracy offered to him by digital video editing.

Ever an outdoors enthusiast, Mike draws inspiration from the natural world and his exploits in it. And as an avid sailor, swimmer, kayaker, skier, bicyclist, and hiker, he is never at a loss for things to film and photograph for his personal catalogue of adventures. Mike also enjoys the occasional walk on the wild side of life; downhill skiing during every full moon of the past thirty years, sailing by moonlight, or taking freelance jobs that paid for him to go heli-skiing. Be it on a lake, in a forest, on a mountain top, in rain, snow, or sunshine, Mike can’t get enough of the natural world and the possibilities that it has to offer.

 

On top of his extensive work in the great outdoors, Mike has produced films for a variety of groups. Past projects have included a two-part instructional series for diabetic schizophrenics to help them eat properly, an eleven-part video series to teach children in 4H comparative judging, a seven-part series of bilingual "Be Aware, Ski With Care" commercials for the Canadian Ski Patrol and a simple film called “Taking Care of your Wound” that is still being sold across the world ten years after it was released.

working on Ski Patrol commercials
Horseshoe Bay
Fraser River camping

For all of his years of experience instructing and assisting students at the university, Mike continues to find UBCO to
be an excellent working environment, “There are so many
creative people, and so much going on. Every corner you
look in, there’s some new activity, a new idea being
generated and explored. There so much fun stuff going,
and so many great people to work with (both faculty and
students). Not a day goes by where I don’t learn
something new.” Being the AV supervisor also comes with
its own unique set of challenges, the first of which is
finding, and bringing new technologies to the campus,
then learning how to use them so that he can help
students to safely use the equipment for their creative
endeavours. The learning curve may be a bit steep, but
fortunately Mike knows that he can always ask the
students for some assistance!

Shuswap River kayak trip

In terms of future projects, Mike hopes that he might join a friend in producing a film series on sailing around the world, but for now he would settle for more heli-skiing.

full moon ski
north face of Big White
Article by Wyatt McCrae

Last reviewed shim11/14/2014 3:08:24 PM