Interning in LA’s Digital Media Frontier
By Deanna Saltzman
It’s only been about a month since I’ve begun the SULA program and my internship with Fine Brothers Entertainment, and it’s already been such a rollercoaster. They say that everything in digital happens “faster,” and it’s certainly true. Within my company’s department, we’ve seen some up’s and down’s with the launch of our community-based digital licensing program for the React franchise, one of FBE’s most popular YouTube programs. After having done format research, system testing, and ongoing documentation and processing post-launch, FBE made the decision to halt the program due to PR controversy over the concept of licensing a specific format that is commonly perceived as a genre in itself. It was an interesting debate, and certainly one that myself and my colleagues agree should continue–How can format licensing be adapted to the community-based, “mix-up” video culture of the digital world? What makes a licensable format vs. what constitutes a genre? Can an entertainment brand protect its assets whilst also inviting “the average joe” to create licensed, formatted content as a partner? As the digital landscape evolves and multi-channel networks sponsor a variety of online talent, these questions naturally arise, and the continuation of business in this sphere depends on us trying to find the answers as a cooperative community. Despite the setback, I am continually inspired by the leadership shown by my colleagues, supervisors, and the Fines themselves. Ultimately, in my opinion, I believe that with positive principles and sound business goals, the strategy will come. Perhaps the future of formatting and partnering within the digital landscape is more service-based than rights-based. Perhaps there’s still room for a hybrid. It remains to be seen, but between myself and the colleagues I work with, the talented alumni I have met through SULA, the fresh thinking from the latest generation of Newhouse undergrads, and the digital community at large, I believe the answers can be found.