News, Notes & Commentary on the world of HRTS

JHRTS New York: Meet the new Co-Presidents

jhrts-ny-co-presidentsThe JHRTS is the junior membership division of the HRTS and continues our organization’s bi-coastal tradition of networking and community building by nurturing those young professionals at the assistant through manager levels. I recently had a chance to interview the two rising stars who are the JHRTS New York Co-Presidents, Lindsay Schuster and Max Ulanoff, both are digital natives and both are young leaders in the industry who have very informative and interesting perspectives.

Q: Can you tell us about your background and what made you want to work in entertainment?
-LINDSAY: my love for television began with a loyalty to SNL in middle school. I would set my VCR to record it every Saturday before catching the latest in the Scream franchise or attending yet another Bar Mitzvah. Soon, I wanted to watch as much TV across as many genres as I could - I loved the stories, the characters, and the settings in worlds unfamiliar to me from my couch in South Florida. I applied to Northwestern as a Radio/TV/Film major so I could try my hand at learning to create the medium that I loved watching. My experiences at school and summer internships confirmed that I wanted to be a part of making television. After college, I was an agent trainee at William Morris, and three years later, I moved to AMC where I indeed became a part of making (really great) television.

-MAX: I grew up in the Upper East Side of New York City watching my parents navigate the Fashion Industry. Through this experience I found myself infatuated with trend setting, celebrity life and most importantly representation. My parents were involved with various celebrity endorsement and licensing deals, which constantly piqued my interest. At a young age, it became apparent that my interpersonal communication and design skills were my talents. From that point on, it only made sense to adapt my skill-set into a career of spotting talent and brand building.

Q: What’s a favorite memory/experience from your time in the industry so far?
-LINDSAY: I recently visited the set of The Walking Dead outside of Atlanta. I’ve worked on the show for almost 3 years, so it was extremely rewarding to see the script pages I’ve read so often transform into reality, and to witness firsthand all of the work that goes into the production. Greg Nicotero's workshop was particularly memorable - gallons of "blood" line the shelves and lifeless zombies pile high along the walls. If standing in a room full of fake zombies was that unnerving, I could only imagine how frightening the actual zombie apocalypse would be...

-MAX: besides being asked to do this interview? I am fortunate to say that I followed and locked-down my dream, so I enjoy every minute behind my desk. That said, I am going to leave you with two, of many memories...

From a business standpoint, when I closed my first deal. After spending years as an Assistant/ Coordinator, and many agents can attest to this, there is nothing more rewarding than inking your first agreement. Within my first month of starting account sales, I was awarded and tasked with licensing-out the Animal Planet brand into the pet-care space at retail. Realizing the supplements have become a trend, I was able to negotiate and secure an agreement with the category leader. For the rest of my career, a package of Animal Planet Supplements will be on my desk, constantly reminding me that this is the brick that built the house!

In regards to the industry and pop culture, I will leave you with when I ended up on TMZ. I went out to dinner with one of the actors from Prison Break and found a blockade of cameras waiting for us outside of Madeo in Beverly Hills. The experience was surreal, as I was new to LA, and had not experienced the power of the West Coast Paparazzi. The moment made me realize that I was really in “the biz.” However, it wasn’t until the clip aired the next day that I truly comprehended the magnitude of Hollywood. I received phone calls from people that have been in and out of my life since childhood. The calls solidified my notion that fans and consumers alike will do anything to feel closer to their favorite talent. The bigger shocker was that I was impressed with how many people in various age brackets watch TMZ! Although throughout the day, my favorite calls came from a few executives in the business who simply wanted to say, “congrats, welcome to Hollywood!”

Q: How did you first get involved with the JHRTS?
-LINDSAY: Bradley Singer, founding president of JHRTS-NY, brought the organization to my attention when we worked at WME together. Bradley spearheaded the initiative to start a NY branch, and I joined the board shortly after that.

-MAX: I went to various mixers when I was living in LA, however my first JHRTS-NY event was at ICM Partners for a conversation with Boaty Boatwright and Adam Schweitzer. I met our past president, Eric Neumann and my lovely Co-President, Lindsay Schuster and the rest is history…

Q: What sorts of activities does the JHRTS undertake?
-LINDSAY: we host educational and social events for members so that the industry in NY can feel like a smaller community. Our events include panels, roundtables, and mixers, and we have been lucky enough to feature many HRTS members.

-MAX: I am going to start off by saying that my motto in life is “your network is your net-worth.” That said, JHRTS is the premier society in the entertainment industry for young executives to build their network. From social mixers and events to educational seminars, JHRTS allows career-minded rising stars the ability to interact with some of Hollywood’s most influential decision makers. The NY chapter prides itself on building programs that educate its members on the various touch points of the industry. We want to make sure that our members have exposure to all the different opportunities and avenues in the greater Tri-State area.

Q: How are things coming along with the New York group?
-LINDSAY: the New York group is coming along fantastically! Our membership grows annually with representatives from more and more New York-based entertainment companies, and we're supported by an enthusiastic board. A goal for the New York arm is to take advantage of the unique opportunities and connections we have in this city. In the past, that has included a comedy panel with New York-based writers and comedians, and a roundtable with a Broadway producer.

-MAX: things couldn’t be better. We have a fantastic board, which is comprised of passionate junior executives, each bringing expertise from a different touch point of the industry. The chapter has a strong and loyal group of members that are eager to be involved, learn and network. We are constantly looking up, planning exciting and educational events to drive traffic and enhance membership. Stay tuned!

Q: As digital natives, how do you see the next 5-10 years of the industry?
-LINDSAY: the digital age has created an expectation for instant gratification. As a result, accessibility to content will undoubtedly become even more important over time. With the constant emergence of original content, the demand for innovative products and platforms on which to distribute that content will increase. A prime example of this is the two-screen viewing experience, which allows consumers to watch a series and view additional content simultaneously. The use of social networking will remain necessary to give consumers and creators direct communication to each other, and to provide a community among fans. And since the internet has made it incredibly easy for the user to become the creator, I believe we will see more crowdsourcing for talent, content, and funding.

-MAX: the digital era is becoming a cultural shift for the entertainment industry. On the business side, industry executives are finding new avenues to spot talent and showcase their clients. Day by day, we are finding that YouTube stars and bloggers are becoming the new tastemakers, trendsetters and industry experts. To that end, fans want instantaneous content, where they can find their favorite talent, shows and even brands at any given time.

Over the next 5-10 years, we are going to find that the digital space will own a huge portion of our business. Companies like Alloy Digital are at the forefront of the shift, by putting the majority of their assets into their online properties. Much like the new season of Arrested Development which aired only on Netflix, we will find our favorite shows available from specific digital content providers. Essentially watching what we want, whenever we want, wherever we want, on our tablets and other smart devices. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised within the next few years if our entire home entertainment experience is comprised of one smart device.

Q: Are the viewing habits of today’s kids and teens really that different than Gen-Xers or Boomers?
-LINDSAY: younger generations take advantage of the technology that is available to them in the same way their parents had done as teenagers. The difference is that teens have more options now than previous generations did. Content today is delivered on so many different platforms, and the ability to consume the content gets easier as the viewing devices become more portable, more affordable, and more integrated.

-MAX: viewing habits change with every generation, however there are some things that stay constant. We need to look at this in two ways. The first being the actual content provided to viewers. Children, tweens and young adults are always going to skew toward the shows geared for their demographic. Sure, there is overlap, I would be lying if I said I don’t watch an old episode of X-Men from time to time… but essentially there is content that will always stay constant to specific age brackets.

The major difference is that we are dealing with a very tech-savvy generation. These viewers want their content fresh, and readily available. With DVR, YouTube, Netflix and other content providers, these viewers want to be able to have access to their favorite show and/or talent at any given time of the day. The days of rushing home for “TGIF” or waking up at 7am for Saturday morning cartoons are long gone…


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