Find out how this Environment alumn is turning his love of the great outdoors into a career in TV
There are many obvious reasons why a Faculty of Environment alumnus would not find themselves anywhere near Donald Trump’s personal jet. But that’s exactly where Geography and Environmental Management alumnus Brett Rogers was when he got the idea for an upcoming television show, taking him and a friend on a grueling historical journey through earth’s harshest environments.
Rogers is a budding star on Canadian television. You may not have heard of him yet but you soon will. As a media entrepreneur, Rogers has a unique point of view distinctly rooted in his studies in Environment.
“I was working on a show called Mighty Planes as a camera assistant and we were working on an episode that was on Trump and his Boeing 757,” explains Rogers. “I was tired of being a camera assistant, I wanted my own show that I could produce and direct myself. During the shoot this idea came into my head, which I coined, 7 Days in Hell. The premise is; my buddy and I are dropped into historic worse-case scenarios, totally unsupported and we have to film the whole thing ourselves while setting out to survive for a week.”
The pilot episode follows in the footsteps of the few men who were searching for gold in the Yukon in 1885, a full year before the first gold discovery. 7 Days In Hell will premiere in December on HISTORY Canada.
It is a bold concept, but not something new to Rogers. The Environment grad has led expeditions on the Mackenzie, Yukon, Mississippi and Ganges Rivers - spanning a total distance of 9,000 kilometers, over a total of 10 months, all without anything but human power. Each time he goes out, he brings his camera along to document the experience.
His career in media began in his fourth year at Waterloo, when Rogers led his first expedition in the Northwest Territories on the Mackenzie River from Fort Simpson to Inuvik on a homemade raft. A grant from the Faculty of Environment helped him film the experience and from this expedition, Brett produced his first documentary, Into the Midnight Sun, which aired on The Documentary Channel for three years.
In some ways, Rogers’ epiphany on business titan Trump’s plane was appropriate. Rogers considers himself an “entrepreneurial producer,” something he feels his Environment education helped inspire.
“Most people interested in television or documentary would go to Ryerson where they focus more on the technical side of it, whereas I focused on understanding the issues. The faculty helped me build a solid foundation where I knew a little bit about everything, which is essentially what Geography is all about,” Rogers says. “Looking back, my big break was when I was able to land that grant, buy that camera and borrow it for the summer. I am forever thankful that the faculty gave me the opportunity.”
Ultimately it doesn’t matter what career you're after, every employer demands experience. But how do you get experience?
“I knew nothing about how to make a documentary so I just went out and taught myself how and that’s literally the pattern I followed for a decade until I finally got the attention of the right people at HISTORY Canada,” says the grad. “You have to fight for what you want. And that goes for any grads out there. If you don't have experience, go out there and create your own.”