“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 for this year’s 30 Digital Creatives to Know, 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.
On this list, you’ll find our picks for top producers, writers, directors, editors, visual effects artists, and overall one-stop-shop creators.
Directors and Editors
Creation: As the producer of the 2014 VOD hit “Camp Takota,” starring Grace Helbing, Hannah Hart and Mamrie Hart, Goldfine helped define the template for direct-to-digital features stacked with digital influencers. Earlier in his career, he did stints with “Extra” and “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” co-produced HBO’s “Cathouse: The Series,” and served as head of development for AT&T’s three-screen programming and senior vp for AEG. Today, he wears two hats — chief content officer for Fullscreen and producer/director of films such as the documentary “#02LForever,” the multi-channel network’s first feature, which debuted on Vimeo-On-Demand last month.
What’s Next: Goldfine’s latest directorial effort, “The Outfield” will debut soon on Fullscreen.
Creation: It’s a no-brainer to include PJ Liguori on this list. For years, his work on his YouTube channel KickThePj has challenged the internet community on what can be done with a minimal crew and budget. His talent at in-camera world creation is unmatched in the digital realm. Behind the camera, he’s an aesthetic mastermind who reminds audiences and fellow filmmakers of Michel Gondry, Terry Gilliam, and Wes Anderson.
What’s Next: The launch of his first series “Oscar’s Hotel for Fantastical Creatures” on Vimeo-On-Demand later this year.
Nick and Chris Riedell (a.k.a. The Brothers Riedell)
Creation: Since breaking out as the winners of the YouTube reality-competition series “Internet Icon” in 2012, Nick and Chris Riedell, collectively known as The Brothers Riedell, have become go-to directors for projects featuring high-profile web stars. Last year, they set the standard for direct-to-digital features as the directors of the comedy “Camp Takota,” starring YouTubers Grace Helbig, Mamrie Hart and Hannah Hart. Their most recent directorial effort — the high school comedy “Bad Night,” starring YouTubers Jenn McAllister (a.k.a. JennXPenn) and Lauren Elizabeth Luthringshausen — debuted on Vimeo-On-Demand on July 21.
What’s Next: The Riedells are currently putting the finihsing touches on an original screenplay and working with comic book icon Stan Lee’s Pow! Entertainment and the YouTube Spaces to develop a new superhero concept for digital distribution.
Tony E. Valenzuela
Creation: Valenzuela started out in show business working as a songwriter and performer for BMG, touring throughout Europe. Returning to the States, he switched careers and became an art director, working on projects for UPN, CBS and ABC. He finally discovered his true calling on YouTube as the creative mastermind behind BlackBoxTV, the most subscribed and watched horror channel on the internet. Earlier this year, he executive produced the zombie reality-competition web series “Fight of the Living Dead,” featuring an all-star cast of YouTubers including Joey Graceffa, Meghan Camarena, Justine Ezarik and Olga Kay.
What’s Next: Valenzuela’s first feature film “Villisca,” about a trio of troubled teens spend the night in haunted house where real-life axe murders were committed in 1912, is currently in post-production.
Simon Atkinson and Adam Townley
Creation: The British commercial directing duo, known as “Si & Ad,” has worked together for over a decade, helming commercials for brands including Honda, Miller and JC Penny. Their “Accidental Duet” spot for Match.com earned them awards from the Cannes Film Festival, AICP, the British Arrows and “The One Show,” and their 2012 short film “Indoor” was nominated for the SXSW Grand Jury Award.
What’s Next: The AwesomenessTV/Film 360 feature “Shovel Buddies,” starring YouTuber Kian Lawley.
Brett W Bachman — Editor, VFX artist
Creation: The Seattle native’s love for such films as “Star Wars” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark” eventually took him to Los Angeles to hone his craft at the AFI Conservatory, where he graduated in 2011 with an M.F.A. in Film Editing. His first two projects, “McCanick” and “Raze,” earned spots at the Toronto and Tribeca Film Festivals, and his third feature, “Cooties,” was selected for the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. In 2014, he co-edited the film “Max Rose,” starring Jerry Lewis and Kevin Pollak, which was an official selection of the 2013 Festival de Cannes. In addition to editing, Bachman is also adept at sound editing, visual effects and graphics.
What’s Next: Editing the Fullscreen feature “The Outfield.”
Creation: Best known for her work with YouTube’s prince of parodies Bart Baker, Kohn is a video editor for Maker Studios, where she has worked on projects for its top-tier talent, including Epic Rap Battles of History, Kassem G, Lisa Schwartz, Christina Grimmie, Shay Carl and the “Epic Rap Battles of History” team.
What’s Next: More editing work with Baker and his team. Kohn is also in the process of developing content for her own YouTube channel.
Ryan Moulton, Andrew Sherman & Peter “NicePeter” Shukoff
Creation: The trio is responsible for routinely pulling together the rapid-fire clips for “Epic Rap Battles of History, which have more than 1.77 billion views on YouTube. Moulton, Sherman and Shukoff also have their creative fingerprints on virtually everything else “Epic Rap Battle”-related, including its numerous comedy shorts, “UCB Originals,” and film and TV projects.
What’s Next: More “Epic Rap Battles.”
Creation: Tracht began career as a junior editor working on a DVD featurette the horror film “The Messengers,” produced by by Sam Raimi (“Spider-Man,” “The Evil Dead”). In the years since, she’s built a resume that includes reality TV (HDNet’s “The Super”), documentaries (“Starring Adam West”) and gigs for companies like E! Entertainment, G4 and the Style Network. In 2012, she joined creative studio Portal A, where she has worked on the annual “YouTube Rewind” videos.
What’s Next: Continuing to push creative boundaries as a freelance editor extraordinaire
“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.