Member Post: Media 4.0


When I came to USC in 2005, it was with the intention of leaving behind 10 years in the tech biz.  In my head, the life of a filmmaker would be meaningful, influential, and free of the bonds of the computer: no more carpal tunnel syndrome, no more dark, windowless offices.

Subsequent to having that naivete wiped out by long nights in the windowless AVID lab, I got an internship working for USC graduate and producer Laura Ziskin.

Around graduation time, Laura approached me with an offer.  She and a number of other influential women in the entertainment industry were hosting the first of its kind modern day telethon to raise money for cancer research, with the goal to someday make everyone with cancer a survivor.  It was a lofty goal, the kind befitting of no less than the same ambition it takes to make a movie. 

It's been almost six years since I signed on to lead the digital media team at Stand Up To Cancer.  In that time, we've had three Hollywood star-studded, televised fundraisers and SU2C has become a force in changing the way that cancer research is done. In those same days, the way that people take in media and content has also changed.  Social media has become mainstream among our grandparents. YouTube gets over 4 billion video views per day.  If you do still watch television, you likely do it in a three screen way - interacting with content through your phone and your computer at the same time as you "watch" (attention span being an artifact of the 90s). As content creators, what do we do to evolve with the technology?


We’ll soon enter pre-production for Stand Up To Cancer’s fourth televised event. We’re considering things we couldn’t even have conceived of in 2008. What auxiliary second screen content will we produce to be watched or referenced simultaneously during the show? How can we integrate live twitter stories into the show? Can we perfect telethon 2.0: the idea that celebrities could take your donation by video conference instead of phone? And, most importantly, how do we create short form, high access content that not only moves people emotionally, but emboldens them to take action. To do something. To donate. To help us help doctors and researchers achieve Laura’s vision of making everyone with cancer a survivor.


In 2005, my USC colleagues and I sat in our orientation, before we even set foot into the first day of 508.  As I remember it, Jerry Kagan said unto the captive, enthusiastic new cadets:

How many of you want to direct Films?"

(The entire crowd raised their hands)

How many of you want to direct Television?"

(Five kids raised their hands)

How many of you want to direct Reality TV?"

(One person raises her hand.  He points to her.)

"You’re gonna get a job.”

You can fit 1000 iPhones in the space taken up by one movie screen.   I often wonder what he says today. 


Jules DiBiase has been working in technology for over 20 years, but only recently in the growing intersection between technology and entertainment.

With an MFA in film from USC and a Ph.D in computer and cognitive science at CU Boulder, Jules proudly leads the SU2C's digital arm in the movement to end cancer in our lifetimes. She is an alumna of Laura Ziskin Productions, the Colorado Internet Cooperative, Freshwater Software, Net Daemons Associates, and Burger King.

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