TIFF ’14: Shareability tops Conde Nast’s video wish list

Jed Weintrob, head of production at Condé Nast Entertainment, took to TIFF's Doc Conference to discuss what the company wants from factual content for its online brands and partner sites.
September 10, 2014

Jed Weintrob, head of production at Condé Nast Entertainment, wants all the content on the media company’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,” he said.

Condé Nast Entertainment is a division of the larger Condé Nast mediaco, which owns a wide range of media brands and publications including Vanity Fair, Vogue, The New Yorker and Wired. In his presentation on Tuesday (September 9) at the TIFF Doc Conference, Weintrob gave an overview of what his company is looking for and what it can offer filmmakers:

Shareable content

Condé Nast Entertainment features its content across a variety of platforms, including online channels for magazine brands such as Teen Vogue and Vanity Fair, and can accommodate a wide range of content across those brands, Weintrob said. What makes content standout 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, 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 eight separate episodes.

The power of brands 

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 CondeNast 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, 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 Daily Motion, 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.

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