The Digital Hollywood Experience

The Digital Hollywood Experience


Wednesday, October 11th, 2017

12:30 PM - 1:45 PM

Track I: Herscher Hall, 3rd Floor, Room 303-304, Live Webcast

Hollywood, Internet and Media Challenge: Platforms and Convergence - from Apps, Snapchat & Facebook to OTT Networks

Alan Cannistraro, CEO, Rheo (former Apps exec, Facebook, Apple)

Ryan Nugent, ‎VP of Content Strategy, Gunpowder & Sky

Fabian Birgfeld, founder and partner, W12 Studios

Will Lee, Group Digital Director, Sports and Entertainment, Time Inc.

JR Griffin, Vice President, Digital Marketing & Business Development, FremantleMedia North America

Robert Rodriguez, CEO, Natcom

Mike Cruz, ‎Director of Digital Programming, Skybound Entertainment

Terry S. Bienstock, CEO, Mobilactive Media, LLC., Moderator


Alan Cannistraro, Founder and CEO, Rheo: Alan Cannistraro is the founder and CEO of a new kind of entertainment destination called Rheo. Cannistraro has spent his career as a creative and innovative product engineer and designer focused on consuming and controlling media. He founded Rheo as a future-looking viewing experience for the swipe generation to easily find, watch and share the best videos on the web using ambient technology that embodies the future of TV. After more than a decade at Apple creating many of the company’s first iOS media apps, including architecting and engineering iBooks

and iTunes U, Cannistraro went on to start and lead Facebook’s Creative Labs app team, where he built the widely lauded AutoPlay Video and developed News Feed features, including the “Year in Review”. Cannistraro is a computer engineering graduate of the University of Waterloo. He taught the world how to create iOS apps through a class he developed for Stanford, which generated 15M views online. Cannistraro is passionate about video and is obsessed with new ways to interact with media and technology in a meaningful way. A lifelong tinkerer and inventor, Cannistraro designed a glove to make the DJ’ing experience easier and created a number of interactive experiences using physical movement to control music, video and lighting. He is also a lover of pugs and everything related to interactive art.


JR Griffin is the Vice President of Digital Marketing & Business Development at FremantleMedia North America (FMNA).  In this role, he is responsible for digital integrations for hit FMNA shows such as American Idol and America's Got Talent.  JR is a publishing and digital media executive with over a decade of new media and web content development, programming and management experience. Whether it be through stimulating viewer engagement, creating innovative digital content, or forming groundbreaking partnerships, JR has been a leader in amplifying FMNA’s social TV presence, and finding unique ways for the company’s formats to evolve. His work on American Idol has produced multiple worldwide firsts, including the debut of Google Search Voting and partnering with Facebook to show real-time voting trends. JR has also been instrumental in creating live-stream programs for American Idol, America's Got Talent and The X Factor that engaged audiences online, and complemented the show's on-air broadcasts. For the upcoming season of America’s Got Talent, JR created a partnership with YouNow to launch another worldwide first by creating live-streaming auditions to connect YouNow's talented community with the show's producers. Prior to joining FMNA, JR created and ran the New Media Programming division of NBCUniversal for their E!, Style and G4 networks.  In this role, he oversaw the creation of all video content for each of the networks’ sites and mobile applications, as well as their video syndication businesses, which included signature Academy Awards, Golden Globes and Grammy Awards coverage.


Ryan Nugent - VP Content Strategy, Gunpowder & Sky: Ryan joins Gunpowder & Sky from YouTube where he was most recently the Global Head of Creator Trends and Research. During his YouTube tenure, Ryan combined art and science to help hundreds of partners generate fandom across major entertainment, music, and pop-culture channels. His expertise was distributed to mass audiences when he authored the first-ever YouTube Creator Playbook, published in 2012 and translated into seven languages. He began his career in digital content launching brands and building audiences at the pioneer online video company, Next New Networks (acquired by YouTube in 2011). Ryan is an avid cyclist and obsessed with music like Brazilian tropicalia, all the jazz greats, hip/hop beat-makers, and indie innovators. As a recent Brooklyn transplant, Ryan is looking forward to body surfing in the Pacific as much as possible.


Robert Rodriguez, CEO, Natcom: A 30 year seasoned expert in the area of entrepreneurial business leadership in the fields of marketing and multi-media content for large platforms such as broadcast television stations, internet sites, telecom companies and other digital organizations throughout the world. Robert brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise in content related to health, tourism, technology, e-commerce and social media for the new challenges and opportunities of modern times. He has managed complex acquisitions and work force integrations in the U.S., the Caribbean as well as international regions such as Asia, Latin America and Europe. Currently Robert is the CEO of Natcom Global, a multi-platform video content producer and distributor. Natcom is one of the leading fact based short form content producers and distributors in the U.S. Natcom clients include nearly 75 broadcast stations in the U.S., 1,000 Internet sites around the world, international telecom operators and Fortune 500 companies. Some of Natcom clients include CBS, Disney/ABC, AOL/Verizon, Citibank, Baidu, Humana, the United States Department of Homeland Security and the Department of the Treasury, to name a few. In addition to his overall responsibilities he is also responsible for acquisitions and international expansion that includes establishing operations for Natcom in Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean. Prior to Natcom, Robert was the CEO of NPN Media, a company he and other investors acquired from NBC Universal. NPN produces and distributes fact based news related segments to broadcast stations as well as digital outlets in the U.S. NPN became part of Natcom in 2014. Before NPN, Robert co-founded and was CEO of National Communication LTD (NCL) where he successfully attained an Inc.500 ranking twice. (fastest growing privately held companies in America) NCL is a diversified marketing communications agency that has developed hundreds of marketing and media initiatives for global companies such as Citibank, Burger King and Chevron to name a few. In addition to the private sector NCL provides or has provided strategic consultancy services to governments including the United States, regional government agencies in Spain and the government of the Islands of the Bahamas. Some of NCL’s work with the U.S. Federal Government included micro economic development research and implementation initiatives providing different federal agencies with best practices and recommendations for contracting to small and disadvantaged businesses. In 1995 NCL produced the award winning world record program, “Around the World in a Day” using an Air France Concorde to break the world aviation speed record which currently still stands.


Will Lee, Digital Director of Time Inc.’s Celebrity, Entertainment, Style and Sports Group, is responsible for driving digital audience and business growth for brands including People, Sports Illustrated, and InStyle, and leads content strategy for all mobile, video, audio, and emerging platforms. Lee was previously Digital Editorial Director, and since February 2015. He rejoined Time Inc. as editor of in October 2014, where he worked with the integrated print-digital and website staff to provide strategy and vision across the brands’ digital platforms. When Lee rejoined the company, he brought with him 15 years of experience creating, igniting and growing media brands. He recently served as Vice President, Digital Content and Programming at The Hollywood Reporter, where he led the brand to numerous traffic records and played a key role in integrating print and digital newsrooms. Lee also held senior roles at Penske Media Corp. and TMZ. He began his career at Entertainment Weekly and has written for Sports Illustrated. Lee studied at Phillips Exeter Academy, Eton College and NYU Stern School of Business. He earned an A.B. in Classics from Brown University.


Fabian Birgfeld, founder and partner, W12 Studios: Fabian Birgfeld is founder and partner of W12 Studios. The agency was founded in 2012 in London with a strong focus on media and technology. W12 Studios has developed comprehensive design systems for the big screen, delivering content across the device ecosystem and has helped shape entirely new digital content formats for markets across the globe. W12 Studios' clients include Intel, Microsoft, NOS, Red Bull, Vodafone, BBC, Samsung, WatchWith, Beamly, Shazam, Verizon, and Okko among others.  Beforehand Fabian worked at frog design, Method and the BBC where he led the design teams for iPlayer, BBC News, BBC Sport and 2012 Olympics. Fabian has taught design and theory at Princeton University, Syracuse University and NJIT. His art and designs have been frequently exhibited in the US and Europe and won numerous awards. Born and raised in Germany, Fabian holds a BA in Economics from Harvard University and a graduate degree in Architecture from Princeton University.


Michael Cruz is the Director of Digital Programming at Robert Kirkman’s Skybound Entertainment where he serves as an executive producer on non-traditional/new media content and oversees Owned and Operated content for Skybound’s own digital presence and associated verticals. Prior to Skybound Entertainment, Cruz was the Head of Youtube Programming at Whalerock Industries fka BermanBraun where he oversaw a team to build online communities and programming for premium channels Cinefix, Tasted, and Anime Vice as well as working closely with the team for Adam Savage and Jaime Heineman’s platform. In his two years there, the O&O network garnered over 3 Million Subscribers and received over half a billion video views. Cruz has worked in various facets of production and development, but primarily directing and writing commercials, documentary, music videos, and independent features both locally and internationally; specializing in delivering high quality at a low cost. His first film made with the support of the UN toured to 11 developing countries and brought in close to 2 Million Dollars for charities local to Micronesia. He graduated from Pomona College with a B.A.s in Critical Media Studies, Theater Production, and Comparative Religions and from Chapman University with an M.F.A. in Film and Television Directing. He also trained closely under the mentorship of Award winning screenwriter David Ward.


Terry S. Bienstock, CEO, Mobilactive Media, LLC.: a New Jersey-based distributor of managed application publishing and secure remote access solutions for business and consumer markets. WorldExtend has revolutionary products to deliver to a business a low cost software-based VPN, and has developed a virtual computer on a TV set to bridge the Digital Divide. He also manages and advises other ventures relating to new media platforms, such as Video-on-Demand, digital video recorders, broadband and mobile services. Prior to this, he served as Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Law and Government Affairs, for Comcast Cable Communications in Philadelphia. In this position, he maintained business responsibility for Comcast's Video on Demand platform, Comcast University and claims management. He was also responsible for overseeing the Law department for the country's leading cable and broadband communications provider, advising senior management on legal and business issues, and for Comcast's state and local government affairs in the 5000 communities and 41 states in which it did business. Prior to joining Comcast, for 23 years Bienstock was in private practice, serving as lead counsel on numerous major communications, First Amendment and property rights cases for most of the top media and cable companies, and lead high visibility cases, from the first fully televised trial in the U.S. to the Noriega tapes case for CNN. He pioneered litigation in the cable television industry for operators, programmers and equipment manufacturers, and successfully prosecuted cases on theft of service, copyright and trademark, premises access, franchising, franchise modifications, transfers, renewals, leased access and other constitutional and Cable Act issues. He has over 100 reported decisions to his name. A graduate of the State University of New York at Binghamton in 1975 and the Rutgers-Camden School of Law in 1978, Bienstock has authored several articles in leading legal publications on cable issues such as theft of service, franchising and access to premises. He regularly lectures at numerous national trade associates and legal conferences on various communications, media, regulatory, law department management and litigation topics, and at business conferences on new media topics