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Hollywood’s New Leaders in Digital

 

Beau Bryant
General manager, creator group, Fullscreen; 35
Bryant has not only signed a roster of top digital influencers to Fullscreen — including Grace Helbig, the Fine brothers and Eva Gutowski (aka MyLifeAsEva) — he’s also lined up nearly 700 brand deals that have earned them more $10 million. Additionally, he oversees Fullscreen Direct, a custom e-commerce platform used by everyone from Metallica to Kobe Bryant, and Style+, a full-service design, production and distribution service for consumer goods and apparel. “If you’re a breaking new voice, the world you’re going into is so fundamentally different than it was even five years ago, and it’s cool to be on the threshold of that,” he says.

Jack Davis
Founder, CEO, Crypt TV; 25
When Davis looked to the future of digital content, what he saw was horror. In April 2015, Davis founded the horror short film production company Crypt TV with Eli Roth and an investment from Jason Blum of Blumhouse Prods. In the 2½ years since the company’s launch, Crypt’s short films have garnered tens of millions of views over Facebook and YouTube , were featured as a keynote presentation at the Tribeca Film Festival, secured a merchandising deal with Spencer’s Gifts, and Knott’s Scary Farm will feature their character Giggles the Clown as part of the Halloween festivities. Davis says the key to his company’s growth lies in capitalizing on the emerging digital format and audience and in creating engaging intellectual property that will be the next generation of Frankensteins and Freddy Kreugers. So what scares a man who has devoted himself to all things scary? “You can’t reason with a shark. It’s going to eat you. You can’t outswim it. Sharks are terrible.”

Vanessa Guthrie
Partner lead, Snap; 36
Guthrie has been a key player in the emergence of Snapchat Shows, a fast-growing slate of mobile-friendly programming customized for Snapchat’s vertical-screen platform. Equipped with sophisticated data that give second-by-second analysis of viewer engagement, she is working on development and production in tandem with a who’s who of TV networks from E! to CNN in a broad range of genres that will eventually include scripted, too. “In just our first year of shows on Snapchat, I think we’ve raised the bar for the type of series you see on mobile,” says Guthrie, who previously worked at iHeart Media. “These aren’t second screen experiences.”

Wolfgang Hammer
President, Super Deluxe; 40
Hammer is blazing new paths in content and distribution with Turner’s wildly experimental new digital-native brand to resonate with millennial audiences. Part network and part studio, Hammer’s operation is breaking ground with stunts like interactive-TV shows on Facebook Live. 2018 will see an expansion into producing for TV, a challenge the former CBS Films president sees as a game-changer for Super Deluxe. “Digital and linear entertainment have merged and we’re one of the very few premium entertainment companies at the nexus,” he said. “Having a presence on TV proves that Super Deluxe can translate young, rebellious energy into the mainstream.”

Angie Kang
VP of business and legal affairs, Hulu; 35
Kang nearly lost her voice cheering on Hulu’s big “The Handmaid’s Tale” win at the Emmys last month She didn’t receive a statuette, but as the leader of the team negotiating the streamer’s licensing deals, she feels a deep connection its content, which includes other originals such as “Difficult People” and “Casual,” as well as current network shows and hit films. “I’ve been at Hulu for six years, and it’s almost like every deal that you make is meaningful because it’s going to create a direct impact on the company,” says Kang, who also helped bring a suite of more than 50 channels to Hulu’s new live TV service.

Brin Lukens
VP of programming, AwesomenessTV; 32
At digital-first production company AwesomenessTV, Lukens rarely finds herself in development hell. She estimates she spends six to eight months a year on-set, hands-on producing shows for Netflix (“Project Mc2”), Hulu (“Freakish,” “All Night”), YouTube Red (“Foursome”), Go90 (“Guidance”), Nickelodeon (“AwesomenessTV”), as well as films (“Shovel Buddies,” “Expelled”). “That’s rare in Hollywood, where you can spend a lot of time talking about ideas and developing, but not get to press the record button and see those ideas come to life,” says Lukens, who served as head of development for Ashton Kutcher’s Thrash Lab YouTube channel before joining AwesomenessTV in 2014.

Cassie Petrey
Co-founder, Crowd Surf; 31
A leader in digital marketing for music artists including Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, Guns N’ Roses, Fifth Harmony and LL Cool J, Petrey also co-manages Max & Harvey, the 14-year-old U.K. pop duo sensations with 4.3 million followers on musical.ly, a book deal with Penguin Random House (out Oct. 19) and a TV series deal with CBBC. Crowd Surf has a staff of 45, four offices and total audience of all clients’ social media reach combined is more than 1 billion. “Beyonce’s dad told me, ‘When you start out as an entrepreneur, do one thing really well instead of a bunch of things — then you can do anything.’ ”

Rachel Webber
EVP, digital product, National Geographic; 35
At National Geographic, Webber has multiplied the 130-year-old brand’s cross-platform reach, establishing it as the No. 1 non-celebrity account on Instagram and Facebook and crafting comprehensive digital strategies for its programming, including the climate change doc “Before the Flood,” the Albert Einstein scripted series “Genius” and Ron Howard’s “Mars,” the latter of which had a streaming-only companion series. “I love to build things,” says Webber, who also established NatGeo’s Your Shot online exhibition platform for amateur photogs. “We get to take these mother ships of incredible content from our television channel and our magazine and transform that into experiences that work for audiences on the platforms where they’re hanging out every day.”

Stevie Wynne Levine
SVP, production & development, Rhett and Link; executive producer, “Good Mythical Morning;” 29
In 2014, Levine, who’d been tapped to produce “Good Mythical Morning,” hosted by childhood pals Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal, wrote down some goals. One was to have the YouTube program reach 100,000 views. Today, the offbeat gab fest earns up to 2.5 million per post with more than 12 million subscribers and is to launch as an expanded program on Nov. 6. While she loves bringing programming to streaming platforms, Levine sees the value in promoting them via traditional broadcast shows like “The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon.” “Every time the guys appear on ‘Fallon’ we see a spike in our subscriber base. There’s definitely a different audience that watches television.”

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