If you are interested in content creation or learning more about the evolution of the digital space, you will not want to miss out on today’s Career Over Coffee spotlight! Jess Harris- DiStefano is a Screenwriter and Content Producer with production experience and has worked for companies like Nike and Google. Jess currently works as the Head of Creative Programming at YouTube Space LA. Here, she helps creators produce innovative content through access to sound stages, sound design professionals, and shooting and editing programs!
Q: Briefly describe your background:
If I were to describe my career background in one word, it would definitely be eclectic. Each career decision I have made up to now has come from opportunities and what was interesting at the time.
I received a BFA in Writing for Film and TV from USC, and have always had a deep passion for storytelling. After college, I moved to New York and fell into a job writing for video games and from there transitioned into production. I was an Interaction Designer for a museum design firm before R/GA approached me with a position on the Nike+ team incorporating hardware design, software design, shooting content, and putting together appealing stories that encompassed the Nike brand in its entirety. After Nike, I moved over to the Zoo at Google, where I was a Creative Consultant and worked with brands like L’Oréal, FedEx, Army, and Pepsi. Today, I’m in LA with YouTube working in Creative Programming!
Q: How have you experienced the evolution of the digital space throughout your career?
When I graduated college, we didn’t have iPhones, so when I was designing video games it was for T9 phones. The digital space has evolved so rapidly that there is a need for constant education on the new trends and technologies. To make a video for YouTube a few years ago you would need a camera, sound equipment, editing software, and now you can just take a video on your phone and upload it.
Q: YouTube is an incredible platform for content that is entertaining, educational, and everything in between. What is your favorite part of working with collaborators and content creators, and how do you see their work impacting our world on a daily basis?
I love content, and being an active screenwriter on the side, it’s inspiring to watch people make good content and foster creativity. The content creators we interact with on a daily basis are open to making something cool, different, and interesting, so being able to work with these people in a one on one setting is both inspirational and rewarding. It’s an incredible creative community and creators aren’t just kids in a bedroom anymore. Online platforms are becoming the new way to absorb content.
Q: If you were advising someone trying to make their start in digital/content creation, what top skills would you recommend they learn?
Be flexible, consume digital content at a rapid rate to be able to talk about it knowledgably, and get experience in production. Watch content and see what works and what doesn’t work – this includes all digital experiences, not just content. Start picking up trends, and spend an hour or so on platforms such as YouTube and Instagram and then take a step back and evaluate it. For getting experience before making your start in the industry, get experience in production. Your production experience could be pre or post, but being a PA will allow you to be able to see all the details that goes into just one video.
Q: Where do you see content based, interactive platforms such as YouTube and social media going in the next 5 years?
As millennials get older, the idea of tuning in to watch something at a set time won’t happen so we will see a vast shift in how people consume media, and where the dominant platform will be. Social media and YouTube are going to continue to dominate the market, and most likely outrun TV networks with shorter content available to be streamed at their convenience.