On Friday June 22nd, Digital Media Connecticut held it's kickoff summit at the University of Connecticut's Stamford campus. Digital Media Connecticut, or DMCT, is a collaborative initiative with the Connecticut Office of Film, Television, and Digital Media, focused on nurturing CT's growing workforce in the digital sphere.
Spearheaded by Matthew Worwood (UConn Digital Media & Design) and Sarah Schauss, DMCT's Kickoff Summit featured guest speakers and panelists all involved in the world digital media and film. These speakers and panelists included individuals from NBC Sports, ESPN, Nick Jr., Scholastic, Quinnipiac University, Norwalk Community College, Octagon, and many more.
The afternoon session kicked off with pitches from several Community Organizations including Nelson Santos of LocalLive Networks and Mallory Mason of CPTV and the YUP Network. Our own Patrick Whalen was given the opportunity to speak about Nutmeg Institute and the 48 Hour Film Project New Haven. You can read Pat's full remarks below.
These speakers and panelists all hit on the same message: in order to succeed for our generation and the next we need a strong and passionate community that works together. It was an incredible and inspiring day.
DMCT will continue a speaker series kicking off in the fall at both UConn's Hartford & Stamford campuses. In addition, the DMCT website is anticipated to be a tool for students to find the necessary resources to succeed in this industry.
We're excited to see where DMCT goes from here and look forward to working with them as we help this storytelling community grow! #ConnectWhatsNext
My name is Patrick Whalen, and I am the co-founder of Nutmeg Institute.
It sounds a lot more formal than it is. Trust me, it’s not. But I’ll get to that in a bit.
I want to start with a little bit of background.
In the Spring Semester of 2009, I was asked to join UConn’s first Film Club. I stuck around because I thought a girl was cute – we’re dating now, by the way. We did do some fun stuff: made a couple short films, watched some great movies, and became friends (most of whom are still all friends today). But the club ultimately didn’t last long.
What’s stuck with me, however, is the reasoning behind that Film Club. See, back then UConn wasn’t the proponent of media education it is now. There was no Digital Media & Design program. There was no Digital Summit like this. And our Film Club was not nearly as active and invigorated as the group that has assumed the name today. There was UCTV, of course, but film classes mostly focused on watching a movie and writing an essay.
What that initial Film Club group saw was a gap, a need to build a community of film-loving UConn students.
So they tried to bring otherwise unconnected people together.
As I’ve continued my journey in Connecticut’s film and media industry this lack of connectivity is something I’ve noticed too.
Filmmakers, media makers, and content creators in Hartford were unaware of what their contemporaries were doing in Stamford; those in Rocky Hill had no idea what was happening in New Haven; and the ones in Danbury didn’t know about interesting events in Canaan.
As a City Producer for the 48 Hour Film Project New Haven, (if you ever wanted to make a short film in a weekend, this is your chance, registration is now open! The 2018 48 Hour Film Project New Haven is presented by the Connecticut Office of Film, Television, and Digital Media), we do our best to bring together filmmakers from all over the state but a once a year event isn’t enough.
That’s where Nutmeg Institute comes in.
We want to connect everyone.
As our mission states: Nutmeg Institute is focused on celebrating the storytellers of today while providing resources and tools for the next generation.
Again, fancy language.
To do this, we started to reach out and listen and talk with industry professionals and creators and even those on the periphery about what they would like to see an organization with that mission do.
Listening is key. Figuring out what people are working on, what they’re struggling is important to shaping what we’re doing. And it shows you’re invested. People like to share, as you’ll see in a minute, and taking their challenges into consideration was a great first step.
That’s how we settled on three tenants to push us forward:
To call it our content is a bit of a fib. It’s your content. Seriously. We barely write any of it. We provide a platform for your voices to connect with others through our Nutmeg Gazette and Nutmeg Conversations series of features.
We seek out content creators, filmmakers, Youtubers, podcasters, authors, songwriters, and more and ask them to share their experiences in their own words. And they do! If that sounds like Derek Jeter’s Player’s Tribune for athletes, it’s because that’s where we got the idea from.
We can write “How-to” articles and box office reports all we want, and there’s nothing wrong with any of them. But to learn from other creators, understand their reasons why they do what they do and read about their mistakes is all so important. Experience is everything. As I say to a room of people with far more experience than me who I’ve been happy to listen to and meet all morning.
We’re incredibly thankful for the people who took time out of their professional lives to share, and we’re always looking for more; the stories are incredible and prove there’s a clear willingness to give back to the next generation.
Sitting here, at the University of Connecticut, I think we can all agree education is important.
I got my start in this media world through an educational program: CT’s Film Industry Training Program. Anybody remember that?
That experience opened up my eyes to what a media training program could be: hands-on workshops, working professionals, and a chance to make something. It’s shaped how we want to approach working with up-and-coming creators. I know we can’t replicate what was done with that program, times have changed - how we consume and create media has changed but it has served as a cornerstone for every educational outreach we do.
Whether we’re hosting a workshop for aspiring screenwriters or teaching a digital storytelling class to middle schoolers at a Boys & Girls Club, Nutmeg aims to be a resource for these and other experiences. It’s never too early or late to learn. And if we want to get young students as excited about media as we all are today, it’s good to build that foundation with them.
And third, COMMUNITY.
We want to bring storytellers together. In fact, this has been our main focus in the first year of our inception. Education and Content will only be as strong as the Community we build and maintain. We want to help strengthen and be a part of this community. Whether it’s film festivals or workshops or events, there are always opportunities to learn and connect with others.
Events like this are fantastic; I was coming here even before I got asked to speak in front of you. So whether we’re attending or hosting, we’re excited to be there.
As we continue through this predominantly digital world it’s paramount these communities we’re building together support each offline as well as online and vice versa. Hopefully we can help with that.
That’s Nutmeg Institute, in a...nutshell… Like that first Film Club, we have a desire to bring people together, create bonds, and grow this community.
For more information you can find us at www.nutmeginstitute.com or on all the social medias.
Thank you for your time. I’m honored to have been asked to speak today and be among so many great creators. I cannot wait to see what’s next for everyone, especially Digital Media CT. It’s an exciting time!
Thank you again!