Next Gen 2010: Digital

 Bill Phelps

Ezra Cooperstein
30, CEO, Maker Studios

In a world that is brutally difficult to monetize, Cooperstein might just be the guy to have a breakthrough. With his new Maker Studios, a startup that allows YouTube stars to share production and promotion, the UCLA grad is getting 140 million monthly views -- something Cooperstein’s former boss at Current TV, Al Gore, would have been proud of. “We’re delivering numbers equivalent to cable,” says Cooperstein, a Santa Cruz, Calif., native who swims laps in his free time. But he hasn’t had much idle time lately: Cooperstein has also been instrumental to engineering Current’s innovative VC2 (viewer-created content) division. “And that’s something that can’t be ignored.”
 
Danielle DePalma
28, VP new media/theatrical marketing, Lionsgate

DePalma earned her rep as the driving force behind Lionsgate’s innovative web campaigns for such horror films as Saw, Hostel and The Last Exorcism of Emily Rose. But this Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native, who plays beach volleyball and practices yoga in her spare time, fell in love with Hollywood through a quite different movie: “My favorite was Legends of the Fall,” she says. “I used to go into Blockbuster and ask if they had any [cardboard] standees available and bring them home.” After graduating with a finance and economics degree from Florida State University, DePalma created her own legend when she joined MGM’s financial planning department, landing at Lionsgate in 2006. Since taking over online promotions, she has overseen killer campaigns for Kick-Ass and The Expendables. “Having Sylvester Stallone say, ‘Don’t forget to share,’ at the end of the trailer really helped to increase views,” she says.

Mike Farah
31, President of production, funnyordie.com

Farah’s mantra of “shoot first and ask questions later” keeps the Web shorts he produces for funnyordie.com firmly embedded in the cultural zeitgeist, whether they’re pointedly political (Prop 8: The Musical) or just plain silly (Zach Galifianakis’ celebrity interview series Between Two Ferns). The Ann Arbor, Mich., native came to guerrilla filmmaking relatively late in life -- “I was not the kid making short films in my backyard when I was 10,” he says -- so after earning a degree in finance from Indiana University, he saved up money from his bartending job and moved to L.A. in October 2001 with a vague plan to launch a career in the film business. Eventually, he landed as head of development for writer-director Craig Brewer, until the WGA strike in 2007. To fill the void, he produced Web shorts for comedian friends like Jerry Minor and Brent Weinbach, which found their way onto funnyordie.com, the site founded by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay. By August 2008 he was their in-house producer. Today, he’s forever flirting with chronic exhaustion by leading a 15-person creative team that churns out 20-25 original comedic video shorts a month -- featuring such notable contributors such as Jim Carrey and David Mamet -- and producing his first feature film, Answer This! written and directed by his brother Christopher Farah.

Dan Weinstein
28, Manager, the Collective; Head of digital entertainment, Salient Media

Weinstein knows the ways of Hollywood: He worked in the UTA mailroom and for producers Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher. But “the old-school model wasn’t for me,” he says. “It felt slow, paint-by-the-numbers.” Instead, the Newtown, Penn., native became a manager at the Collective, where he’s amassed a client list of YouTube stars: iJustine, The Annoying Orange and What the Buck Show. “Talking fruit can be a real business,” he says. And then some: Weinstein’s clients now generate about 125 million page views per month. “YouTubers don’t get a lot of respect from mainstream media,” he says. “But that’s gonna change.”

Jesse Jacobs
34, President, Chernin Entertainment

As a top dog in former News Corp. president and CEO Peter Chernin’s ambitious new company, Jacobs looks to buy and buy big. “What excites us is technology’s impact on media ... specifically Asia,” says the New York native, who, during his undergrad tenure at the University of Pennsylvania, spent weekends working on sports telecasts for the fledgling Fox Sports. After graduation, he produced the Yahoo Online Music Awards and running content and syndication for IFilm. With a Wharton MBA in hand, he took a full-time gig at Goldman Sachs, where during the next five years he worked on major deals, including an Asian financing agreement for the Weinstein Co., the take-private of Clear Channel and the spinoff of Viacom and CBS. In 2009, he left to co-found the private investment fund Raine, then joined Chernin at the beginning of 2010.

Next Gen 2010 profiles written and reported by Randee Dawn, Leslie Bruce, Todd Longwell, Carita Rizzo, Lauren Schutte and Andrew Wallenstein


 

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