Earlier this month, Rizzle announced it would bring on film industry vet Thom Woodley as the company’s first-ever Head of Creative and Content Development. Thom’s hiring underscores Rizzle’s commitment to fostering a robust community of web series creators: he produced some of the very first web series ever to be made (and to go viral), and he’s a veteran advertiser who wrote some of the world’s most well-known campaigns. He has served as a creative director for work spanning digital, traditional, social, branded, and experiential channels, and has created award-winning work through agencies, digital publishing, and independent television. We (virtually) sat down with Thom to learn more about his work -- and why he joined the Rizzle team.
Q: You’ve had a really fascinating career. You worked at CollegeHumor; you wrote the Dos Equis commercials. Why this job? Why now?
A: I’m driven by this idea that anyone can create a show or series -- the “democratization of content creation,” so to speak. It’s really been the narrative thread between all of the work I’ve done in film, entertainment, and advertising over the years. I started the web series program at the New York Conservatory for the Dramatic Arts, which essentially teaches actors who have never picked up a camera in their lives to shoot a series and pitch an idea. It gives them a real stake in the creative process and frankly, makes them better actors. I also sit on the board of Catalyst Storieroad and the Catalyst Content Festival, which helps independent creators and beginning filmmakers make narrative-driven, cinematic-quality work. And these are the kinds of people I see using Rizzle in really meaningful ways. I was very interested in the indie side of filmmaking and the idea that you don’t have to spend a million dollars to tell a story.
Q: What intrigues you about the one-minute video format?
A: I’m fascinated with 60-second video as an artistic concept. Vertical video is a relatively new medium. In this format, people like to see the seams of what you’re creating; they don’t want something overly polished. They love to see the fingerprints of the creators behind what they’re watching. This format is highly experiential. A lot of companies are trying to tell more interesting stories digitally, but Rizzle is really opening up the funnel.
Q: We love that phrase “democratization of content.” You’ve worked with a ton of creators and brands; why do you think nobody has explored web series content creation in depth until now?
A: Back in 2006, YouTube had just launched but nobody was doing scripted content. My partners and I were among the first to create scripted series online. And listen -- the economics of Hollywood are changing. There’s an emerging recognition that everyone has the capacity to tell a story, both emotionally and technically -- and Rizzle allows them to do that on one platform. This is an automatic blank slate.
Q: You’re a few weeks into your new gig here. What are you excited about this quarter? What’s on your agenda?
A: I’m really looking forward to green-lighting some really interesting, challenging, and never-before-seen work from creators. At Rizzle Studios, we are aiming to green-light both scripted and unscripted content, and some of this will be free tier programming. We’re also looking to strike partnerships with film festivals and talent agencies, and to include an educational component to allow creators to up their game: think on-demand courses from instructors in writing, directing, and acting that are available to any person in any time zone at any time. We’re partnering with college film programs so we can work directly with students in film and acting programs, and we’ll be making some in-house work as well to start raising the bar as quickly as possible and show creators the kinds of things they can do on Rizzle. Our immediate goal is to drastically improve the quantity and quality of content, and to dramatically widen the aperture of what people view and do on the app.