Photos by Caroline Laganas
Two sleek, black leather couches surrounded a leather chair and faced the audience. A pop of crimson illuminated from a circular red rug underneath the studio lights. To the side of the stage was a string of lights that hung above a coffee stand. In the back of the room, a large tiled screen displayed pictures of YouTube users. Creators come to this space to produce video content and collaborate with the YouTube creative community.
Pepperdine’s Institute for Entertainment, Media and Culture (IEMC) and Alumni Affairs hosted Pepperdine alumni, faculty, staff, students and industry leaders at the YouTube Space in LA on Friday, March 24 from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The evening featured a panel of Pepperdine alumni and industry leaders to discuss the latest advancements in digital entertainment.
“Mobile consumption of video content has skyrocketed,” Robert Kyncl, Chief Business Officer at YouTube and Pepperdine alumnus (MBA ’97) said. Kyncl added there are one billion hours of content watched every day.
“YouTube is a bridge between possibility and actuality between the creator and audience,” said Malik Ducard, the global head of Family and Learning at YouTube.
Ducard spoke about the significance of his work at YouTube’s Family Channel saying there are creators making content designed for families all around the world. Ducard showed clips from an Australian girl named Grace who acts out life lessons with her dolls on her channel, Grace’s World. Ducard also showed footage from Ubongo Kids, an animated channel based in Tanzania that teaches Swahili, and Cosmic Kids Yoga, an England-based show focused on yoga, mindfulness, stories and relaxation.
“We’re inspiring more kids and families to tune into family entertainment,” Ducard said. “Communities are global, access to learning is universal and new storytellers are emerging every day.”
Professor Craig Detweiler moderated “Storytelling in the Streaming Space,” which featured sophomore Matilda Donovan as she discussed her and her friend, Stephanie May’s YouTube channel Primrose, Chris Mansolillo (’93) and his work at Amazon, and Michelle Sullivan (’95) and her work at Amazon Studios.
“The most important thing to remember is anyone can do it,” Donovan said about creating a YouTube channel. Donovan and her friend Stephanie May created Primrose in 2012 and now have 427,721 subscribers.
As for Mansolillo, he offered advice about the future of digital entertainment for people within the industry.
“Be authentic in your approach,” Mansolillo said. “Where the future is heading, it’s about convenience of choice. Make it easier for the consumer.”
Stephanie May was in the audience and said YouTube was a cutting edge way to reach audiences.
“YouTube is a very influential platform that people underestimate,” May said.
Another segment of the evening included Professor Neison Granados, as he moderated “Game, eSports, and Interactive Entertainment.” The panel consisted of Ted Middleton, who works at Verizon Digital Media Services; Zach Pond (MBA ’08), who works at Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment; and Rob Moore (’84), an eSports Entrepreneur.
During the conversation, Pond addressed the trends and competition within the mobile gaming industry.
“This generation is used to entertaining themselves whenever they want with their devices,” Pond said. “It’s very competitive but very accessible.”
Beyond trends, the panel offered advice to the audience.
“Do everything, try everything, trust yourself, and you’ll find your path when you keep figuring out what you love and what you don’t love,” Pond said.
As for Moore, he recommended similar advice.
“Look for opportunities that connect your passions and interests,” Moore said. “Find what you enjoy because your personal life will translate over to your professional life.”
The closing conversation at YouTube Space LA was between host John Mooney, executive director of the Pepperdine University Institute for Entertainment, Media, and Culture and William D. Simon who works at Korn Ferry — an advisory firm that provides talent strategy tools and consulting services. The conversation was about the overall impact on talent and careers.
“Be responsible,” Simon said. “Have mentors, be open to change.”
Mooney asked Simon what companies are looking for today when they want to hire employees.
“Companies today are looking for people with agility,” Simon said. “You have to be agile. You have to do four-to-five jobs.”
Simon said traditional jobs required employees to perform tasks A and B whereas nowadays the industry demands its employees to be capable of doing tasks A, B, C, D and E.
“That’s what it takes,” Simon said.
Senior Annette Lee attended the event because she said she heard about it in class and was intrigued. For her, the event left her with a key takeaway.
“Media is quickly changing,” Lee said. “We always have to be thinking ahead, and we need to put our foot in the door when we need to.”
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