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When Variety’s annual Entertainment & Technology Summit presented by City National Bank returns Sept. 15 at 1 Hotel in West Hollywood, creatives, executives and everyone in between will be looking for ways to use the latest technologies to tell the kinds of stories that hook audiences and keep them coming back to their chosen platform for more. Whether that means finding ways to use cutting-edge devices such as NFTs or even a more traditional theatrical release, events seem to be evolving at the speed of light.

Writer and producer David Goyer, who will speak at the Producers in the Zeitgeist — Creating Across Platforms panel has had hits across the media landscape from the film “Blade” to the “Sandman” series. His experiences give him a particularly broad view of how creators can use new and existing media for their content.

“Over the decades I gravitated more towards streaming — in part because that’s now my preferred medium as a fan,” Goyer says. “I love nothing better than being able to settle into a sprawling, novelistic show. And I love the serialized format — being able to build from one season to the next. There’s also a bit more of a feedback loop with the audience when you’re doing a story that has multiple seasons. With a feature, you push it out into the world and that’s it. I still do features — and I still enjoy seeing them in a theater — but for me, being able to immerse myself in a world for seasons is really the best.”

Jessica Gao, creator and producer of “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law” and an Emmy winner for the animated show “Rick and Morty,” thinks creators can potentially have more control over how their stories unfold if they embrace different technologies. That can mean an opportunity for writers, directors and producers to choose among different platforms to deliver their ideas to their viewers.

“I do think creators have more opportunities to tell stories, and more importantly, more options of how to tell those stories,” Gao says. “There used to be more rigid definitions of what is a movie and what is a TV show. What’s nice about having so many accepted media is that you can let the project dictate which format serves it best. It doesn’t necessarily change my creative process, but it does mean that ideas that would’ve been written off as not viable might now find its place in the world because it works much better in a different format.” 

As creatives move into the new technologies they can use to reach their audiences, it’s easy to become infatuated with the latest trend. New technologies can be enticing and exciting all on their own. Dawn Thomas, CEO of Koi Story Studio and an Oculus Lab Fellow, who will speak during the Making Sense of Web3 for the Entertainment Industry panel, is quick to point out that it’s still all about the storytelling.

Fans will know if you’re not being authentic, Thomas says.

In fact, Thomas, who formerly worked with CAA and Will Smith’s
company Overbrook Entertainment, moved into Web3 and the metaverse because of her obsession with storytelling. She takes a “fan first” perspective on
new technologies.

“We’re all looking for connection and engagement with our fan community,” Thomas says. “So we’re looking for things that deepen our connection and engagement. It’s not about creating an NFT. It’s about creating a collectible moment that believers in a particular fan community can have and use to spark social connection.”