Rachel Skidmore and Genevieve Jones (image below) workd to create new digital media at Skybound.
I love the excitement that comes from working at the forefront your field.That’s exactly what Rachel Skidmore and Genevieve Jones are doing at Skybound Entertainment, a creator-first multimedia company where they work in virtual reality and other cutting edge forms of digital media. Genevieve describes their work as the “wheel of awesome: we take a story, put it at the center of the wheel, “and see how many ways we can spin it out to make different types of media.” Their work ranges from talent and story discovery to production, and allows them, Rachel says, “to play a lot and try new things.” Both women are in their thirties, and their reflections on their careers are well worth a listen--especially if you’re millennial just out on the job market or a niche content creator finding your voice. Here are their top tips for creating compelling content, fostering your creativity, and building a healthy workplace.
Know Your Audience
Genevieve Jones: “I think what being a geek means now is that you’re into a niche thing, whatever that thing is. It doesn’t necessarily have to be superheroes or dungeons and dragons, whatever we used to marginalize as geeks before. I love that niche passion we see our fans having -- be so enveloped and obsessed with a comic or a property that they know it. The history of the piece of media is part of their history. Part of how we get to interact with that is by going to comicons all over the United States.”
Rachel Skidmore: “When we’re there we learn what it means to be a diehard fan. We’re seeing people in real time, in real life, expressing themselves in this way that promotes and respects this universe of pop culture that they love. We can see how they respond from everything to a new piece of merchandise to a panel that we’ve curated with the voices of comic book writers. There’s something special with that interaction in real life versus online. That passion is so infectious and I love to go to feel more connected and grounded with the people we’re making things for.”
Own Your Niche
Jones: “I love the idea of leaning into your niche interests. I think now more than ever, because of the internet, because it’s shown us so many specific individuals, iit’s ok to not just make your business model to reach as many people as possible. If you just become as specific as you are, and tell your very specific story or service a very specific need, the internet has provided a place where that find its audience and that audience will be even wider than you think.”
Genevieve Jones and Rachel Skidmore (image above) make new digital media at Skybound Entertainment.
Skidmore: “It’s powerful to be a woman in these rooms because it’s still male dominated in the comic book industry, which is where a lot of what we’re doing is rooted. It’s powerful to use your voice in those spaces. I think the most important thing is to speak up about your creative opinion, talk about what stories you want to tell, gives notes on things where you need to, call out sexism in scripts. We’re very heard here and the only way we would miss out on collaborating would be if we stayed quiet.”
Develop Women’s Voices
Skidmore: “I think one way we can address gender imbalances in the gaming and comic book industries is to make a point in our everyday existence at work to look for more female voices, whether it’s a writer, director, or someone interested in video games. And that’s not always easy. It’s a process and something you have to dedicate yourself to. I think the cool thing we’ve seen in the video games we’re privy to the development of is the creation of strong leading female characters. It’s also about turning your fans into creators. There’s so much fan fiction being written by women on the internet, there’s some real talent there, and it’s about the fostering that talent and finding out the original idea and character they want to create.”
Cultivate Your Curiosity and Mentor Others
Jones: “We work in virtual reality, which is very new, so there’s not a way to hire people who have, say, 10 years experience working in VR. So we have to hire and assess people for their willingness to ask questions. We have to hire people based on their curiosity. I would’ve loved that advice earlier on. Just to say, hey, you don’t have to know it all--it is totally ok to lean into your curiosity and ask as many questions as possible.
I also think it’s important to have a mentor and become a mentor before you think you’re ready to. If somebody’s asking you for help, allow yourself to give them the answers and shock yourself by how much you know already.”
Morra Aarons-Mele is the founder of strategic communications firm Women Online and influencer database The Mission List.