Jay Williams is a global marketing executive with experience across many areas of the Entertainment business including movies, television networks, agencies and theme parks with a proven track record on studio campaigns with box office totals well over a billion dollars.
After sixteen years as a creative executive with the Walt Disney Studios and Disney Parks, he founded The Windemere Entertainment Group in 2012, a virtual Marketing and Production company created as a way to connect Studios, Networks and Brands to some of the top entertainment, marketing and digital executives in the business.
Williams has also served as SVP Content for mOcean LA, a brand ambassador developing new entertainment business for MKTG Inc, and is now a Producer for Super 78 Studios.
He is currently an active member of the Producers Guild West, holds a position on Ball State University’s Emerging Media Council and Telecommunications Alumni Board, and is teaching film branding for the AFI Conservatory Producing Fellows.
IPM News Editor Joe Kleiman asked him five questions prior to the IMERSA 2013 Summit, which took place February 14-17 in Denver, CO, USA. Here’s what he had to say:
1. You have a long relationship with mOcean, one of the most dynamic film and television branding firms in the market. Would mOcean’s approach to branding work for a traditional fulldome theater, such as the Gates Planetarium in Denver?
Yes. Each branding campaign begins with a “Deep Dive” into the brand and the strengths and weaknesses of the title you are working on. From there campaign ideas begin to emerge. We helped launched the Disney Nature brand several years ago for the Disney Studios. At the time this was almost unheard of to bring this type of film into mainstream distribution. The audience reaction to the marketing and films were very positive, I believe a similar marketing approach would work just as well for fulldome experiences as well. It really comes down to creating a relevant message for your audience.
2. In 2000, Disney introduced full-length Hollywood features to IMAX with Fantasia 2000 and later expanded to other giant screen formats with the Lion King, Treasure Planet, and Beauty and the Beast. Would it be feasible for a fulldome theater to show such programming or would changes need to be allocated to the business model and operations?
Well I think what makes the “dome” experience so unique is how audiences can be “immersed” into the story from all angles including from above. Changes would likely need to be made to be in order for these films to completely work in this format, however I think this is a possibility.
Distribution would be another question and something that I think the fulldome operators need to discuss and develop a plan for.
3. You are representing the PGA and its involvement with new media at the IMERSA Summit. What do you expect to share with other delegates and what to do you expect to take back to members of the Producers Guild?
The PGA (along with the TEA) co-hosted an event with IMERSA in 2009 at the Griffith Observatory called “Fulldome Digital Media; Opportunities and Creative Possibilities” We had about 300 total guests – sold out. People are interested in exploring new avenues of distribution and dome is a great platform to explore digital storytelling. The interest is always there when it comes to great storytelling. A “dome” environment can help audiences get more from a story as the story is unfolding all around them as opposed to the traditional theater setting where the story is confined to a screen in front of them or elements from the screen in front of them in the case of 3D.
4. Is a dome better than 3D?
It’s not a case of one platform being “better, it’s different. I’m not sold that you need 3D in the dome because it’s so immersive already.
Think of the golf ball in Disney’s Soarin’ film – you duck every time! And it’s not 3D.
The challenge with dome is the directing of the story and figuring out a creative way to utilize the platform – center the action – and direct the audiences’ eye as best as you can. Like 3D the “dome” environment offers storytellers another set of creative tools to more effectively tell their story to audiences.
5. You have a background in marketing for both theme parks and films. You’re a producer with Super 78, a company that produces CGI advertising and films for theme park attractions and is now entering the domain of attraction design. How closely are the commercial and theme park fields related?
Well in the case of Super 78, Brent and Dina (Owners) came out of commercial production – S78 understands direct messaging and tight stories. Telling a story in 30 seconds is challenging in and of itself as is telling a story in 2 minutes, or 6 minutes or 20 or 120.
The point it is, it’s all about storytelling with different means, platforms and avenues.
S78 has been involved in the creative and development process since inception with a constant and consistent internal development slate of projects. Their entre into attraction design started in 2005 and was formally announced in 2012. Because of their commercial background they know how to “quickly engage an audience rather it’s a “Flying film” or “Dark Ride” experience. They are great storytellers, understand all facets of the attractions business and I’m excited to be part of some of their upcoming exciting projects.