UCDA Digital Summit

UDEN was a sponsor of the UCDA Digital Summit held at the superb Park City Film Studios on Dec 1st and 2nd 2016; this is my recap of what happened there which I want to share with the wider community.  If anyone, attendees or otherwise has additional insights or comments, please do add them below.

The purpose of the summit was to invite a handful of leaders from the film, TV, media, gaming, educational, finance and government to come together and discuss digital entertainment in Utah.  I know, I know, feels like we’ve been here before, right?  What was different about this Summit was the focus:  how might we prepare ourselves for the future – to be ready for where the industry is going, as opposed to playing catch-up with where it is today?  Plus, the Summit was interactive, with the participants working together in groups to problem solve, as well as in the larger group for discussions.  Overall I came away re-energized about the potential of this sector and truly impressed by the quality and talent of the people we have here in the state.  Unfortunately, there was no time for my karaoke session!

Here are the outcomes:

·         The highest-level goal would be a sustainable community across the entire state of the creators of content and technology, known for the expertise of the people here, delivering industry-leading quality output for global audiences.

·         The community, along with external stakeholders, need to agree a road-map with some key objectives and commit to moving that plan forward; this is a way of working known as ‘collective impact’ and has been championed by organizations such as United Way of Utah (who we heard from at the Summit) and is being used to address the difficult homelessness challenges in the State (from which we gained insights into the steps and process of collective impact)

·         It was agreed that the outcomes of the Summit would be written up by the UCDA as a report for the Utah government to consider;

·         The collective impact process will take time to work through and deliver results, not least we – the community – will need to figure out the ‘how’ and the ‘who’ of managing the process;

·         Rather than be seen as an industry sector constantly with its hand out for tax dollars, we, as the industry, need to figure out a way to build a sector investment fund, which could help finance initiatives that help us meet our collective goals;

·         Potentially have all sectors align around one future technology and become renown for our expertise in this area; the idea is not to exclude other areas, but use it as a focus, branding and alignment tool.  VR/AR was discussed as such a possibility, as it applies not only to gaming or film, but also TV, simulation, education, medical etc – with a wider connection to the existing tech strengths here in Utah

·         Figure out how to make Utah a more attractive location for creative talent; it was recognized that the state is especially attractive for young families, but could be more vibrant for single people in the way that, say, Austin is

The Summit wrapped up with a list of the wins that we had already achieved during the two days, which we can use as a starting point while collective impact gets figured out:

·         We self-identified as creators of content and technology, which we should all begin to refer to ourselves as;

·         Connections have been made to the wider technology sector, including Silicon Slopes, which we need to now embrace as a stakeholder for mutual benefit;

·         UDEN offered itself as a possible foundation for the wider community to embrace now, open to reconstituting for success as may be required; www.utahden.org

·         Cosmic Pictures offered anyone that was interested to join with them in putting together compelling promotional material to help promote our collective efforts in digital entertainment chris@cosmicpictures.com

·         Access SLC offered the use of its premises downtown SLC to the community for meetings or gatherings as needed www.accesssaltlake.com

·         The VOID offered that, once it has its first virtual entertainment center live in Utah, they would make it available to educators for field trips during daytime hours

·         Shaleane Gee, Special Assistant to Mayor Ben McAdams, advised the Summit that the plans we had discussed made a good fit for collective impact

·         Joe Gabriel from the VOID setup a SLACK channel for discussion and communication about furthering the goals www.theutahcollective.slcak.com

·         There were several meeting opportunities offered by way of further networking, these included:

o   A meeting at Access Sale Lake on January 17th (with a party next day!).  Details from joel@accelerantbsp.com  

o   Invite to the 3rd Annual Innovation Summit on January 25th – details at http://www.innovationsummit2017.com

o   UDEN invited the entire community to network together and continue the conversation at its event during Sundance www.utahden.org/sundance17

Let me close by offering the services of the UDEN social channels to you as a means to share information to our fellow community of creators and technologists!  

I'm very excited.  I hope you can join with us to make the future of entertainment bright for us all!