What began as an apprenticeship opportunity in television and film in the early 1980s blossomed into more than 40 years of creating, managing and implementing high-quality media productions and events.
With this track record of excellence, it is only fitting that broadcast media stalwart and video production guru Kirk Buchanan, will be among the more than 140 persons who will be honoured at the virtual National Honours and Awards Ceremony to be held on National Heroes Day, Monday (October 18).
He will be bestowed with the Order of Distinction in the Rank of Officer (OD) for his contribution to the television production and the broadcasting industry.
Mr. Buchanan tells JIS News that being honoured by his country is “most gratifying. I am blown away by this recognition and I feel truly honoured and humbled by it”.
“The truth is that this honour is even more gratifying because I am receiving it for doing something that I love doing and I am most passionate about – broadcast media and video production,” he says.
Mr. Buchanan graciously thanks everyone he has had the privilege to work with or come in contact with throughout his career, “especially the ones who took a chance on me and gave me the breakthrough opportunities for me to be where I am today”.
“Most of all, I thank my family who had to endure the demands on my time, the long hours spent on the job while I pursued my passion,” he says.
It was the decision of the late renowned radio and television broadcaster, communications consultant, playwright, author and actor, Easton Lee to “take a chance” on a bright, zealous young man, that was the launching pad for his distinguished decades-long career in broadcast media and television production.
“I stumbled into television and film production when I went to the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) as an intern and, thereafter, was kept on as clerical assistant in the personnel department. I discovered, then, that there was a separate television/film unit located at South Odeon Avenue on the same compound where the [then] JBC (Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation) was located.
“I immediately requested a transfer to that unit and was interviewed by the [then] Director of Audio Visuals, Mr. Easton Lee, who was encouraged by my fascination with this area of work (film/television production) and my determination to be part of it; and took a chance on me,” he tells JIS News.
Mr. Buchanan informs that he was placed as an apprentice to the Senior Film Editor at the time, Hopeton Fullwood to be trained as a film editor “because that was the era of films, which preceded video”.
He recalls that going to work every day was like going to school and was a period he cherished, having “landed at the home of the top film and TV creatives of the period” at the South Odeon Avenue compound.
Mr. Buchanan gushes that he was even more fascinated by the transition from film to video at that time in the late 1970s to the early 1980s, and the “exciting opportunity” he was afforded to be a part of this change.
“A whole new world opened up with more opportunities for live productions – in studio and on location. I grabbed every opportunity for training, learning and networking. For me there was no looking back,” he says.
Mr. Buchanan shares that as he became exposed to editing and television production, he realised this is what “I was born to do” and dedicated himself to learning from the stalwarts and would work long hours to perfect his editing skills.
He stresses, however, the long hours “didn’t even matter, because I was doing what I loved and enjoyed. The only drawback was that it often impacted my social and private life because I would get so wrapped up in a particular job that time would slip by before I would realise it”.
Mr. Buchanan says he wholeheartedly embraced the new video technology and as he honed his craft, he soon became one of the first video editors at JIS and, thereafter, the Senior Video Editor.
“I was later given the responsibility to manage all technical matters in relation to the operation of the department as well as oversight of the production of our daily programme ‘Nightview’, which later became ‘Jamaica Magazine’,” he informs.
Of note, Mr. Buchanan shares that as the Technical Manager and, later, Acting Manager for the television department, he had direct responsibility for all major recordings done by the various prime ministers at the time and “had the privilege of working with a number of them, including, the Most Hon. Edward Seaga, the Most Hon. Michael Manley and the Most Hon. Percival James (PJ) Patterson.
Armed with a wealth of experience and expertise, Mr. Buchanan in 1993 seized the opportunity for further growth in the field of broadcast media and television/video production, by joining the fledging television station CVM TV.
Since then, Mr. Buchanan continued to stamp his mark of excellence, going on to serve as General Manager of CVM Productions Ltd, and as Deputy Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Director of Production for the Creative Production and Training Centre (CPTC).
Throughout his many years in broadcast media, Mr. Buchanan has played a lead and innovative role in delivering numerous outputs in live broadcasts and television productions, including initiating, planning and executing large-scale productions for national and international audiences.
He has also collaborated with government departments and agencies, private-sector and civil-society organisations, academia, media houses and individuals to create content and communicate key messages.
In addition, he has coordinated and directed live sporting, entertainment, cultural and current affairs events for national and international broadcast and produced, directed and edited films, short documentaries and videos.
One of the most notable achievements in his career, Mr. Buchanan shares, was as Head of Host Broadcasting, where he led the team responsible for planning and coordinating the coverage and international broadcast of one of the largest ever International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) now (World Athletics), World Junior Championships in Kingston in 2002. This was the first time the Championships was being held in Jamaica and a team comprised of over 98 per cent local technical production staff was assembled to work on such an international event.
According to an article about the event on the World Athletics site, https://www.worldathletics.org/news/news/kingston-world-junior-championships-the-best, the entity was happy with the “results and technical level of the competition”, adding that “Kingston 2002 has been the best Championships of the past decade”.
Also noteworthy was Mr. Buchanan’s role as the Project/Production Manager responsible for planning, coordinating and producing the television coverage and broadcast of more than 10 stagings of the annual Independence ‘Grand Gala’ celebrations (including Jamaica 50 celebrations), and led the technical teams that facilitated the production and live broadcast of the National Prayer Breakfast for more than 12 years.
Mr. Buchanan has also served as the production manager for the production and broadcast of the National Leadership Political Debate since its inception in 2002.
Additionally, he produced and directed the video documentary ‘PJ Patterson: Fulfilling a Legacy of Leadership’; he was project manager for the production of a three- part series ‘Edward Seaga: From Rebel to Leader’; and he was the technical coordinator/manager for the live coverage and broadcast of the funeral service for the late Edward Seaga.
Long recognised for his diligent work, Mr. Buchanan was in 2010 presented with the Press Association of Jamaica’s Veteran’s Award for Distinguished Service to the Field of Journalism; and was given the National Leadership Prayer Breakfast Committee Appreciation Award in 2019.
“It is to God that I give the highest thanks for all that I have achieved throughout my career and life,” he says.
Mr. Buchanan continues to serve the industry as a broadcast media and video production consultant. He also serves as the Deputy Chairman of the Cinematograph Authority, Jamaica. He is a Vice President of the Sunset Optimist Club of Kingston and also a Justice of the Peace (JP).