Enthuse: The Journey So Far

It’s been an interesting five months since we launched Enthuse back in late February. The site started with the idea of combining the creative voices of passionate student writers, and the result has been much greater than we had ever expected.

Since the start of our meetings in February, our team of about 20 volunteer members has expanded in size and reach. Our writers have covered live concerts, film events, and more. Enthuse has now released more than 100 articles, mostly covering album releases and films. We released the Enthusecast on a (semi) regular schedule, while improving on our production, performance, and editing.

We could not have expected such active participation back during MacEwan Club Days, when hardly anyone showed interest. It was worrying, but I had a blast with my four co-founders as we mingled with other clubs and tried our best to engage passersby. Lucas Provencher drummed up a rapport with other students by investigating “Spider-Man and Elsa”-themed YouTube channels and Dan Schneider conspiracy theories. It was definitely more effective than my tired routine of “this is who we are and what we’re doing.”

There was a guy who, at the time, appeared to quietly threaten us with a sharp rock. Another odd fellow asked me for advice about Twitch streaming and then slowly carved his e-mail onto the bottom of our sign-up sheet, with his pen in a fisted grip. I was mortified. Most of our members joined through social media, but it was all worth it as Club Days connected us to Guuto Dolal and, through him, Lucas Kowalik.

Guuto and Lucas went on to be two of our most active writers and most passionate podcast personalities. Lucas has covered over a dozen hip-hop albums since the site launched, with Guuto not far behind in film coverage. Their podcast discussing their top five hip-hop albums of all time has been a highlight of Enthuse content, and was a beautiful spectacle to witness. It was recorded within tight time constraints as other members tried their best to silence their laughter during the pair’s heated debate.

The day before our first meeting, I told Chris, “I want no more than fifteen members.” Then that’s exactly how many people showed up. It was perfect. The room was full of talent, and I knew I had no business telling these people what to do. Ashley Freimark surprised us with her audio production know-how, which was essential in creating the Enthusecast. Chris Ranta displayed an unexpected level of film knowledge and insight into everything from Mulholland Drive to the Smurfs franchise. Heather Gunn immediately stepped up to handle our social media profiles and has done a great job of professionally representing us ever since.

I originally wanted to call the site The Spark. Several names were drafted. One I was particularly fond of was The Finn, a jab at our school’s magazine The Griff. While it took some time to warm up to Enthuse, the name truly encompasses everything we’re going for.

Caleb Fox and Michelle Guthrie were major players from the start. During our first fundraiser, which was successful despite hasty planning, issues with the room, and low attendance, these two stepped above and beyond what was expected of them. Caleb would later be given a new executive position as Chief Creative Officer as it simply felt wrong for him to just be a regular member. Michelle ended up writing an amazing editorial on the end of Sonic Boom, which SONiC 102.9 had actually noticed. It was our first taste of attention from the subjects of our content.

Heather Gunn and Lucas Provencher, who both contribute to our music and film sections, later went on to interview Chris Tarvudd, co-founder of Yeg Music. It was the website’s first time engaging with the local entertainment industry and we hope for more opportunities like this as we grow.

The Enthusecast has definitely been my favourite type of content to participate in. It’s the place where our members’ personalities can really shine through voice and candid discussion. There are plans to expand into video in the future, but the podcast is still in need of constant improvement. Our speakers are progressively improving in etiquette and chemistry, while our recording techniques have gotten better and more efficient.

Enthuse’s weakest point so far has been the gaming section, which is ironic as myself and co-founder President Chris Penwell both wrote on games before the site launched. Video games are unfortunately both expensive and time-consuming. In the past,  I would sink at least 20 to 40 hours into a game before I would write a review. I did write on the music of Anarchy Reigns, which I’ve been in love with for years. I personally hope to cover more obscure releases in further detail. My only full review so far has been my roast of Mass Effect: Andromeda, which may mark me as a heathen in the eyes of fellow Edmonton gamers. My close friend Gerardo Cea, who has very particular tastes, also covered NiER: Automata in a review with such breadth.

The club has since expanded with more talented writers. Sara Clements regularly covers TV and film with a keen eye for messages towards female audiences. Kevin Pennyfeather, who keeps up with an unreal amount of anime on his blog, wrote a few great articles in his signature style consisting of scene breakdowns and adorable GIFs. Jack Stewardson brought a new flavour to the site, making weekly comic recommendations and informative introductions to franchises before major film releases.

It’s a cliché, but Enthuse has become somewhat of a family to me. This is, after all, a club, and these are the types of connections that school clubs are supposed to create. There’s just so much to go into and, if I go on any longer, I’ll probably end up linking to every single article we’ve ever published. In terms of our original mission of combining the creative and social power of student writers, Enthuse has been successful.

The upcoming Fall semester will hopefully bring with it a whole new slew of passion, talent and ideas. The tight-knit nature of Enthuse has allowed it to operate as smoothly as it has, but I believe we’re ready to take this thing even further.

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