Jed Weintrob, head of production at Condé Nast Entertainment (CNE), wants all the content on the mediaco’s online channels to leave viewers with one particular feeling: the need to share what they just watched with someone else.
“The desire to share that content really is at the heart of everything we do,” Weintrob said.
In his presentation on Tuesday at the TIFF Doc Conference, Weintrob gave an overview of what his company is looking for and what it can offer filmmakers:
What makes content stand out as “shareable” to Condé Nast are some of the elements that make YouTube series work so well, such as the subject talking directly into the camera to the audience, which can foster a connection between doc subject and viewers.
To keep the content digestible for mobiles audiences — a large percentage of viewers watch Condé Nast videos on mobile devices, he said — the company also aims to break documentaries up into smaller episodes. For example, when Condé Nast acquired the then-uncompleted doc Casualties of the Gridiron, they worked with the filmmaker to reformat the completed doc into 8 separate episodes.
Sometimes, the backing of a big name can help filmmakers get access to subjects. As an example, Weintrob described Condé Nast’s experience with The School of American Ballet, which he said has always been wary of filmmakers and allowing cameras into the school. However, when CNE approached the school about doing a series following students, the trusted brands the company is associated with helped to get the project greenlit. The result was an 18-part video series, Strictly Ballet (pictured right, screngrab) that was featured on the Teen Vogue video channel. The series also saw a high share rate online, which Weintrob attributed to the dedication of ballet fans and the confessional tone of the series.
What Condé Nast is acquiring
While Condé Nast has online channels associated with particular magazine brands, the company also features its content on a number of portals such as Yahoo and Dailymotion, and has an Xbox app. As such, the company is searching for a wide range of content to feature across these multiple portals, including animation, short and long form documentaries. “We are very much of the belief that our programming should be available everywhere people consume video,” Weintrob said. Thanks to the wide range of programming CondeNast can support, Weintrob noted the company can provide filmmakers with an opportunity to try something new and get audiences involved. “It’s a great place to experiment in the digital world,” Weintrob said.