News & Updates

  • Univision and Telemundo Are Battling It Out on a Digital Front

    Posted by on July 02, 2014


    By Michelle Castillo

    Alicia Menendez is a digital and mobile junkie. The 30-year-old host of Alicia Menendez Tonight, a weeknight talk program about sex, money and power on Univision and ABC’s joint-venture news network Fusion, is practically fused to her mobile device, even when she’s watching TV. “I just want them in tandem. One augments the other,” she says one evening after filming a segment at the Univision/Fusion Newsport headquarters in Doral, Fla., just outside of Miami.

    A few miles away in Hialeah, Telemundo novelas Web producer Veronica de la Fuente trawls telenovela content to find fresh social media fodder. With hundreds of thousands of Facebook fans following the more popular soaps, it’s safe to say these aren’t your grandmother’s programs. “Things that never fail: the actresses’ dresses and the handsome guys of the novela,” says de la Fuente.

    The jobs of these women illustrate the contrasting ways in which Univision and Telemundo are reaching into the digital space. (Both companies have fought for decades to secure Hispanic TV audiences—a fight Univision has dominated.) Where Univision is looking to grow new digital businesses like Fusion and online destination Flama, Telemundo chooses to mine its existing strong suit—telenovelas—for digital iterations. They want the same thing—to attract young and active Hispanic millennials—but are going about it in much different ways.

    Growing Up Hispanic
    There’s a good reason the companies are aggressively building out digitally. According to the latest Census report, 52 million Hispanics live in the U.S., with nearly two out of three (65 percent) between 18 and 34. The population is expected to grow to 132.8 million by 2050 and much of that growth will be fueled by immigrant children and grandchildren.

    While these second- and third-generation Hispanics still understand the nuances of their forebears’ culture, many are English-first, notes Mario García, founder of global media consulting firm García Media. A 2012 Pew study indicates that English is the predominant language in 34 percent of Hispanic households, up from 9 percent in 2011, while Spanish is on the decline. “I have children of my own who were born here,” García says. “Their likes and dislikes have less to do with Hispanics than they have to do with millennials of their own age of all ethnic groups.”

    There’s one common element among almost all young Latinos: an appetite to live digitally—not unlike Menendez. A Pew report, Latinos and Digital Technology, finds that Hispanic millennials are 66 percent more likely to use a mobile device than their non-Hispanic friends. And it is well-known that they are the most active group on social media.

    “Digital is the very first place to start when you are talking about millennials, particularly Hispanic millennials, where their day and their life is extremely about commenting and posting. The device becomes a huge conduit in their hands,” says Marla Skiko, evp, digital innovation at Starcom MediaVest Multicultural.

    The fact that young Hispanics are indoctrinated into mainstream culture makes it easier for brands to reach them using a general-market approach, unlike older generations, says Charles Neugebauer, vp, director of account management of Wing, the Hispanic marketing arm of Grey Global Group. Wing has discovered that Hispanics greatly influence non-Hispanics when they live in close proximity to each other, implying a messaging rub-off on the broader millennial market. And because so many millennial Hispanics live in multigenerational households, marketers also hope they will spread their messages at home.

    The Digital Univision
    We are inside the soundproofed New York studios of Flama, the Univision Communications/Bedrocket site that covers stories the Spanish network may never touch, using emerging talent from the digital world.

    One such performer, who goes by the name D-Stroy, is faking a cough while waving his arms wildly. “Today we’re going to be talking about artists who might have inspired you to smoke, and gangsters who were so high they didn’t realize they were watching Magic Mike in 3-D,” he blurts. The YouTube star completes his slightly NSFW monologue about marijuana, freely ad-libbing. When he’s done, there’s a brief moment of silence before everyone bursts into laughter.

    “All right, let’s try it again,” a producer interjects. D-Stroy sticks a little closer to the script on take two.

    Personalities like D-Stroy and singer Becky G populate Flama, another of Univision’s new digital offshoots. Though it’s too soon to tell if the kids are watching, first time advertisers like Trojan have signed on.

    “It’s about reaching this next generation of Hispanic millennials who are increasingly consuming content online, are really confident in the digital space and engaging with this short-form content that is snackable and sharable. It’s a different consumer behavior than we’ve seen in the past,” says Steven Benanav, Flama gm.

    Univision’s approach seems to be to flood the zone with new digital iterations. “Digital has to be part of the DNA of the entire company,” explains Kevin Conroy, president of digital and enterprise development for the parent company. “It’s no longer adequate for digital to be a division of something or a team that works over on the side.”

    In that spirit, digital content studio La Fabrica UCI, which launched six months ago, will produce both editorial and native content. Its first venture is Variety Latino, a Spanish-language portal for mass-market entertainment news. Stories about Game of Thrones fandom appear alongside listicles featuring Hispanic stars. Going forward, it will weave in English-language content, mostly from sister venture Fusion. Next up for La Fabrica is Alma Extrema, an extreme sports site set to launch in August that targets men 18-34.

    Even methods of storytelling are being affected across all the company’s platforms. Under the watchful eye of chief digital officer Daniel Eilemberg, Fusion’s recent documentary Pimp City, which explored the sex trade, was presented not only in a linear TV format, but also an enhanced, chaptered digital experience involving text, graphics and embedded bonus clips. ABC News president James Goldston applauds Fusion’s efforts in experimentation, adding that the network explores topics ABC can’t necessarily delve into. (Another possible motivator for the network: Hispanic millennials are expected to play a crucial role in the 2016 presidential election.)

    “There are stories that we’ve done that we would have done in slightly different ways, and we’re learning which stories are playing well for these audiences and how those stories are playing out,” says Goldston.

    Some say Univision’s loyal stable of older viewers threatens to be forgotten, even as social media gets folded into the TV network’s newscasts.

     William Valdés, the on-air social media host for Univision’s Despierta América, makes sure to include segments aimed at older viewers, including a recent segment on how to use Twitter. Afterwards, his mom ended up joining the social network and following him. “I was surprised when she went from a BlackBerry to an iPhone—now she’s on Facebook and Twitter!” he says.

    Read more here on ADWEEK.


  • What if We Could Make a Taíno “Lion King”?

    Posted by on July 02, 2014


    BY Julia Taveras

    Irka Mateo is on a mission to bring us back to our Taíno roots through a surprising medium: animation.

    According to biologists, Taíno DNA is present in 27% of the Dominican population, but the truth is that we see very few (if any?) Taíno expressions in media and film. A seasoned Caribbean folklorist and musician — and mother to emerging artist Jarina de Marco, who we frequently cover here — Mateo boasts an impressive voice as well as an ambitious project.


    Deminan KaraKaraKol is the concept trailer for a collaboration with Mateo, the French-Dominican animator Paloma Garcia Minard, and the Smithsonian Latino Institute. The short is based on a creational myth of water and sea creatures, a taste of what is to come if the project gets fully funded.

    Based on 15th century accounts, in the days when Taíno Gods and Cemí-Gods (get it?) lived in the ethereal world, Itiba Kaubaba died while giving birth to quadruplets. One of her sons Deminan KaraKaraKol, became a hero when, through adventures and mischief, he managed to prepare the world for the Taínos.

    Wouldn’t it be great to see a film about Taíno culture blow up like the Lion King (a story that is thought to be loosely based on the Epic of Sundiata) did?

    Watch the teaser below!

    Check this out on Remezcla.

  • Producer’s Toolkit 2014

    Posted by on June 26, 2014


    Film Independent is pleased to announce our annual Producer’s Toolkit, which offers three stand-alone classes that will help you learn – or brush up on – the fundamental skills every producer needs in order to budget, finance and release an independent feature film.

    Demystifying (DIY)stribution

    Date: Saturday & Sunday, June 28 & 29
    Time: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm

    Producers Jennifer Dubin and Cora Olson (Good Dick, The Perfect Family, I Am I) break down the elements of a 360 degree hybrid distribution strategy.

    The class will cover the basics; from festivals to theatrical, windowing your release, marketing, splitting rights, delivery, recouping, residuals and more. You’ll learn how to get your movie out into the world, identify your project’s core audiences, and develop strategies to access them. Learn how to leverage traditional publicity while working social media networks to expand the reach of your marketing.

    We’ll drill down on the established and emerging platforms where you can exploit your film, and how to keep them separate to maximize revenue back to you. This is an empowering and essential skill set for today’s independent filmmaker — and a toolkit you’ll want to access for all your projects past, present and future.

    Register today!

  • CNN will broadcast the critically-acclaimed DOCUMENTED

    Posted by on June 26, 2014


    Television premiere of critically-acclaimed film, DOCUMENTED, debuts at 9:00pm on Sunday, June 29 on CNN/U.S.

    CNN announced that it will broadcast the critically-acclaimed DOCUMENTED, a biographical film that also explores themes of identity and unauthorized immigration through the personal journey of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Jose Antonio Vargas.  DOCUMENTED, which will debut on Sunday, June 29, at 9:00pm and 11:00pm ET on CNN/U.S., premiered at the 2013 AFI Docs Film Festival and is currently in distribution in theaters.

    “DOCUMENTED exemplifies CNN’s new strategy for long-form nonfiction films: the in-depth examination of major issues of our time.  Jose’s personal, revealing narrative, puts faces – including his own – on a major issue, showing what living in the shadows is like for undocumented immigrants across America,” said Amy Entelis, senior vice president of talent and content development.

    Written and directed by Vargas, with technology entrepreneur Sean Parker,Matthew Hiltzik (Paper Clips), philanthropist Liz Simons, Scott Budnick (The Hangover series), Janet Yang (The Joy Luck Club, The People vs. Larry Flynt),and Kevin Iwashina as executive producers, DOCUMENTED opens with Vargas describing how his journey began to other young people, many of whom live in mixed status immigrant families.

    In 2011, Vargas outed himself as an undocumented immigrant in a personal essay in The New York Times Magazine.  At the age of 12 years old, Vargas was sent from the Philippines to live with his mother’s parents in Mountain View, CA.  Vargas attended high school and college in California, and pursued a career in journalism, living and working in newsrooms in San Francisco, Philadelphia, New York, and Washington, DC.  In 2008, Vargas earned a Pulitzer prize with his colleagues at The Washington Post for coverage of the 2007 shooting massacre at Virginia Tech University.

    While accumulating professional successes, Vargas kept his citizenship status a secret until publishing his groundbreaking essay.  He then began traveling around the country telling his story and listening to others, in part, reigniting the national debate on what defines “American.”  Self-reflection during these connections with others,  influenced Vargas’ emotional reconnection with his mother, whom he had not seen in 20 years.

    As a writer and a filmmaker who is not legally recognized by the country he calls his home, Vargas says his film is an act of civil disobedience and meant to show how “a broken immigration system means broken families and broken lives.”  He added, “Immigration is about families and DOCUMENTED is a love story between a mother and son.”

    DOCUMENTED will be available, in simulcast, through CNNx for iPad, as well as through “Watch CNN” via and CNN’s mobile applications.   The two-hour film will also encore on CNN/U.S. on Saturday, July 5, at 9:00pm and 11:00pm ET.

    Personal stories from Vargas’ travels and own reflections, and more information about DOCUMENTED will be published on before the premiere of the film on CNN/U.S.  More information about the film may be found by visiting

    Read more at CNNPressRoom.

  • HBO is bringing back "Project Greenlight"

    Posted by on June 26, 2014

    Ready to be judged by Batman and Jason Bourne? Now's your chance (again). HBO has announced that they're bringing back the talent competition "Project Greenlight," allowing aspiring filmmakers to submit for the chance to make a feature film -- under the watchful eye of producers Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and a crew of reality TV cameras. 

    A reality show born of the late-90s indie film boom, the first seasons of "Project Greenlight" produced a few underseen features -- "Stolen Summer," "The Battle of Shaker Heights" and "Feast" -- that did not launch any megastar careers (well, except for "Shaker Heights" actor Shia LeBeouf, that is). Of course, that was a pre-YouTube era, when cell phones weren't capable of shooting HD video. How that changes the playing field could be most interesting. 

    In the amusing and self-deprecating announcement video below, Affleck and Damon admit to not having had any new ideas in 13 years (when the last "Project Greenlight" ended), before encouraging the "next great filmmaker" to take a chance on entering. Not listed among the contest prizes is the chance to hang out with Affleck and Damon, but you have to admit, that looks like fun. 

    Submissions open on July 24th and close August 8th. More information is available at

    Read more at Indiewire.

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  • 2014 California Locations Conference

    Posted by · June 26, 2014


    The California Film Commission is providing NALIP members a special discount for the 2014 Film Locations Conference, which provides information and resources for filming in California, including information on the 2015 Film Tax Credit program. The tax credit program is an essential part of financing for many new filmmakers and content producers.



  • A Special Pre-Release Screening of Affluenza

    Posted by · June 25, 2014


    Wednesday, 7/2, 7:30 p.m. WGAW 2nd Floor, Multipurpose Room

    An aspiring young photographer finds himself caught up in a heady world of money, sex, and privilege when he moves to wealthy Long Island in the summer of 2008. A Q&A will follow the screening along with a dessert reception. Affluenza is written by WGAW member, Antonio Macia.

    RSVP: [email protected] with “Affluenza” in the subject matter.