“Good story, in the end, is all that matters” is a quote we hear from our peers frequently. What’s often overlooked, however, is that the digital space has the same anatomy found in the films and TV series that Hollywood has been producing for decades. So why has it taken this long to recognize that a magnificent piece of content is only equal to the sum of its parts? In this case, it’s the people who contribute to that video, series, feature film seeing the light of day, whether on YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, Vessel, or the silver screen, that are just as important as the quality of the content itself.
So for this year’s 30 Digital Creatives to Know, which was co-curated with What’s Trending, we’ve taken a deep look at the various individuals who, from start to finish, help craft the great stories that are being distributed digitally and, now, in a multi-platform world. Because it’s not just the writing or the editing or the directing alone that have helped projects like “Expelled,” “Burning Love,” Making a Scene with James Franco” or “Tiny Commando” rise above the competition.
And, not only have these creatives shaped the content of the past and the present, but we’re pretty confident you’ll see them around town quite often in the future.
Production Company and Producer
Co-Founder, Executive Producer, Trium/INE Entertainment
Creation: Eric Day has made more than 35 digital-first projects in just under 10 years, more than half of which have been produced in the last three, including AOL’s “Making a Scene with James Franco” (AOL) and three seasons of Fullscreen’s “Summer Break” (Fullscreen), and “Recipe Rehab,” which was originally produced for Everyday Health as part of YouTube’s original content initiative. “Recipe Rehab” is one of the first and only YouTube-funded shows to make the leap from digital to television, airing in the Saturday morning block via a deal with Litton Entertainment. He has also worked with companies such as Lexus, Farmers Insurance and Toyota on branded video series, including “Ride with the Other Me,” “Bridging the Gaps” and “Adventure Lab.”
What’s Next: “Fast or Fancy” (Maker Studios); “Your Shot” (Vevo),starring DJ Tiesto, premiering in early August; and season 2 of “Making a Scene with James Franco” (AOL), premiering in late summer/early fall,
Chief Creative Strategist, Astronauts Wanted
Creation: At Astronauts Wanted, Shore has demonstrated a knack for integrating “instafamous” talent into programming that speaks to today’s low-attention span youth with such digital shows as”HeyUSA” (Conde Nast Entertainment), hosted and executive produced by Mamrie Hart, and the late night talker”Tawk,” hosted Brooklyn-based rapper Awkwafina. Since “Tawk” debuted, Awkwafina has gone on to become the feature host of “MTV’s Girl Code” and “Girl Code Live,” demonstrating Shore’s ability to ID talent with the ability to “level up” into other genres and formats.
What’s Next: “#AT2UI” (A Trip to Unicorn Island), a feature following Lilly Singh’s world tour, and a scripted transmedia project with Bernie Su and his new production shingle Canvas Media. Astronauts Wanted developing a series focusing on four rising social stars with Tony DiSanto’s prodco DiGa.
Founder and executive producer, Kids At Play
Creation: From digital series to branded video, Berger’s Kids at Play has produced scripted projects in both short form and long form for a variety of distributors including Ulive, PBS Digital, Yahoo, AOL and Vevo. But it’s probably best known for its award-winning Yahoo series “Tiny Commando,” featuring Ed Helms and Zachary Levi. Other notable credits include the unscripted shows“Anthony Eats America” (AOL),”Single Life (CNE’s “The Scene”), starring Taryn Southern. Berger and his Kids at Play team have also produced numerous branded digital video projects, including Waterkeeper’s“Keep It Clean,” Neil Patrick Harris, Kate Walsh and Susan Sarandon, and Listerine’s “America’s Healthiest Heroes.”
What’s Next: “You’re Doing It Wrong” (PBS Digital), starring The Sklar Borthers, and “Ithamar Has Nothing to Say” (Maker Studios), featuring Key and Peele
Scripted producer, Awesomeness TV
Creation: Lukens has produced some of AwesomenessTV’s biggest projects to date. including the movie”Expelled,” starring Cameron Dallas, which Lukens notes is the “number one social movie of 2014” and the YouTube series “Side Effects.” She was also on the team behind the series “Royal Crush, which has received more than 27.5 million views over the course of two seasons. Alongside Paula Kaplan, Lukens is actively involved in the development of Awesomeness’ slate of programming that will streamed on Verizon, as well as various other long and short-form projects.
What’s Next: N/A
President and executive producer, Abominable Pictures
Creation: Stern is a linear TV vet with a career stretching back to the early ’90s with gigs on TV series such as “Remember WENN.” In recent years, he’s turned his attention tje digital space, sequeing from producing wacky Adult Swim series such as “Children’s Hospital” and “NTSF:SD:SUV” to even wackier web shows, including “Wainy Days” and “Horrible People” for MyDamnChannel, Yahoo’s “Burning Love,” Hulu’s “Hotwives of Orlando” and Netflix’s “Wet Hot American Summer.” Abominable Pictures currently has multi-title deals with Netflix, Hulu and Fox Broadcasting’s multiplatform production arm, as well as projects in development with multi-channel network Fullscreen.
What’s Next: Hulu’s “Hotwives of Las Vegas,” premiering in August 2015.
Chief creative officer, New Form Digital.
Creation Since departing Google to join New Form Digital, Kathleen Grace has been one of the most active and aggressive producers in the digital space, acquiring content and making deals with online video stars including PJ Liguori, Sawyer Hartmann, Joey Graceffa and Joe Penna. Her career stretches all the way back to the days of online video with the production company Next New Networks, which was acquired by Google/YouTube in 2011. Prior to joining New Form Digital, Grace led the development of creator-driven programming for YouTube Space LA .
What’s Next: The Maker Studios series “Party Girl,” debuting in late 2015.
Don’t forget to check out the other 30 Creatives to Know in 2015!
“VideoInk and What’s Trending’s 30 Digital Creatives to Know in 2015 is presented in partnership with Jukin Media, the global leader in user-generated entertainment.