Usman Chohan, a journalism and media studies major in the Television, Radio & Emerging Media department shares human stories through documentaries. Earlier this month, his documentary Slice of Goodness was featured in the DOC NYC Film Festival. The documentary is a rags-to-riches story about Hakki Akedeniz, who found fame with his business, Champion Pizza, after immigrating from Turkey.

Chohan’s own story began in Queens, where he developed a passion for exploring neighborhoods. He transferred to Brooklyn College in 2023 to pursue his dream of becoming an on-air television reporter. Today, he aims to use his videography talents to capture the distinct stories brewing in every corner of the five boroughs.

How did you end up at Brooklyn College?
I first had a stint in college at St. John’s University from 2016 to 2018, but it just didn’t fit with me. I took a break from higher education and worked in real estate, but I felt that wasn’t really what I wanted to do. So I decided to go back to school and went to Queensborough Community College for a bit. I was always interested in doing some form of broadcast journalism, and I knew that Brooklyn College had a really good program, so I transferred here.

What inspired you to make Slice of Goodness?
I started it in my Video Storytelling class with Professor Irina Patkanian. At my job at a video news agency, Loud Labs News, I traditionally cover spot news coverage, so transitioning to long-form storytelling was a new thing for me. Professor Patkanian helped me expand my skills and break out of the box. I met Hakki Akedeniz, who opened Champion Pizza. He was homeless 20 years ago when he immigrated here from Turkey, but then he started making pizzas and got into a pizza-making championship. I thought it could be relatable to people from first- or second-generation backgrounds. I wanted to show the story of what it is like to come to a country with nothing and then move up.

How was the process of creating the documentary?
From a technical standpoint, it was challenging. It was the first time I had to set up two different cameras at once or use a lavalier mic to mic someone up professionally. It was also the first time that I had to schedule people, and New Yorkers are busy. I learned a lot about time management.

How did it feel to have it featured in the DOC NYC festival?
It was great to finally see the film get watched by festivalgoers and New Yorkers. I’ve always believed that people like an underdog story. It’s about a guy who started with nothing, and now he’s a celebrity for making pizzas. But he’s not forgetting his roots, and I think that people like that type of story. It felt nice that the film was something that people at the festival could relate to.

What is your favorite thing about videography?
I like going to different neighborhoods to capture how everything isn’t a monolith. New York City is such a big city of contrasts. You have rich neighborhoods and less rich neighborhoods. You have neighborhoods with varying degrees of diversity. I think it’s good to see the differences, and it makes me appreciate living here. New Yorkers don’t think in black and white. Everyone has opinions. Videography gives me the opportunity to visit those neighborhoods and show different perspectives.

How would you describe your experience in the Journalism and Media Studies program?
Very positive. It’s great to meet like-minded people. The students and professors at Brooklyn College are very approachable. I love to meet professors who are in the field. Many of them have field experience and aren’t just giving you a book-ish perspective. If I went to another school, I know that I’d never have the same experience as here.