Known for its powerhouse jury comprised of prominent international broadcast and film industry executives, the New York Festivals 2018 TV & Film Grand Jury represents 32 countries on 6 continents. These jurors, who are award-winners themselves, are passionate about excellence and innovation, and their reputation in diverse areas across all platforms provide each entry with the utmost of attention.
This week, NYF’s Grand Jury Perspective features 2018 TV & Film Awards Grand Jury member, Javier Castany, Director, Production, Original Programming for Disney Channel and Disney XD, The Walt Disney Company Latin America.
Javier serves as Director of the Production Department, Original Programming for Disney Channel and Disney XD at The Walt Disney Company Latin America. As head of the Executive Production Department, Castany works on the general strategy of both network´s original content, is in charge of its projects execution, and contributes in its development in other business platforms.
He is currently in charge of local productions such as: Disney Channel´s Soy Luna and Pijama Party (first original game show); O11CE , which airs on Disney XD; and Jucas, a Brazilian co-production for Disney Channel Latin America. Disney Channel’s smash hit telenovela, Soy Luna earned both a Bronze World Medal and a Finalist Award in the 2017 NYF TV & Film Awards.
In the interview below, Javier shares his creative insights on what makes great content, the tools he uses to keep audiences engaged, the importance of a building a social experience around content, how story structure has changed with the spread of mobile and more.
New York Festivals: Talk about what qualities makes great content.
Javier Castany: We pursue two fundamental goals: good stories and a strong emotional bond with our audience. That, in fact, is in the DNA of Disney and is always on our horizon. Plus, our work reflects optimism, showcases inclusive values and is targeted to the whole family.
To make great content is to know—and also understand—who you are connecting with. Who are you talking to. And based on the previous guidelines, we developed a strong strategy to connect audiences of all over the world with universal enjoyable content that, at the same time, is locally relevant and stands as a powerful exhibition of diversity and the different cultural idiosyncrasies. Quantity and quality is in our spotlight; we are engaged in developing incredible content in every available platform.
Local productions bring special value, and we are fully engaged in creating original content because it’s always relevant and helps build a strong and permanent bond with the audiences.
New York Festivals: What are some of the tools you use to keep your audience?
Javier Castany:We believe that the best way to reach and keep our audience is giving them not only something that’s relevant and interesting on its own, but that can be found in the places where the audience lives. In this sense, we try to pay attention to the way the audiences consume and engage with the content and also always try to visualize and detect where and when the emotional connection occurs. The current consumers viewing behavior is very diverse. Today audiences are more demanding and need to interact with the characters and the content. The audience, we say, is only understandable and reachable if we are able to understand their given conditions. That said, nowadays the key is to provide multiple experiences through multiple platforms, which result in a renewed interest in wide-ranging experiences. Because of this, each time we engage in new projects, we pay special attention to the presence and relevance of the multiple platforms.
New York Festivals: How important is building a social experience around a program?
Javier Castany: It´s crucial today. The times we are living in, new technological trends, the new consumers, all of that is of great interest to the Company. And this is because we are especially keen on developing content that aligns with the current ways of consumption. Building solid social experiences around our productions is essential, just as important as it is for us to engage and emotionally connect with our public, or to have a profound comprehension of each other.
Nowadays, the audience is constantly moving, and with social media they are in a permanent state of creation. Within this special context, it’s important for us to understand these new habits, taking advantage of the proactive interrelation of the platforms we have at hand, creating social experiences… All of this is very important.
New York Festivals: What projects are on the horizon for you?
Javier Castany: As I mentioned, we are deeply committed to the creation of local productions and the undeniable importance they have with our audiences and for us as a company. Local productions give us the chance to convey Disney’s universal values and also to provide a product that is relevant to local audiences and their specific idiosyncrasies. At the moment I can only announce that there will be more new seasons of the greatest hits from Disney Channel and Disney XD.
The new season of O11CE will focus on stories of self and group-improvement, with new spectacular sport and soccer scenes that will entertain boys and girls all over Latin America and Europe. Additionally, I’m glad to say that Soy Luna’s new season—with all its catch music—will also launch in the near future. The current season just ended a few days ago, but there’s more to come, of course.
New York Festivals: If you could select any iconic creative to collaborate with on a project who would it be and why?
Javier Castany: If I had the opportunity, I would really love to work with Michael Giacchino. Sometimes I feel his music sets the tone of a series or a movie in an incredible way. Moving, emotionally connected. Many times I found myself watching a show or movie and I think: “This scoring had to be created by Giacchino…” And then I find his name on the credits… There is a mark, a DNA you can identify on his work.
Of course, he is deservedly best known for his compositions for Disney·Pixar films, including The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Up, Cars 2, and Inside Out. You can understand why he has received multiple Grammy awards, an Emmy, Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award. His work on Doctor Strange, Rogue One, Tomorrowland, and The Muppets, for me is simply perfect.
New York Festivals: Talk about how story structure has changed with the spread of mobile?
Javier Castany: Social media and the spread of mobile have changed the course of our business. In fact, both social media and mobile have a profound link with the expansion of what we call the multi-experience and the multi-platform. They have become the channel in which the product and the audiences are able to have a dialogue.
We are proud of how closely we pay attention to this. Today, we feature our content on many platforms, as well as through traditional channels. Each platform or experience has its own very specific approach to storytelling. The collaboration with the audience in the creation of new content defines a new type of storytelling and it’s groundbreaking.
Digital platforms are essential to connect directly with the viewer. And nowadays, we realize that an active viewer is a very important piece in the machinery that creates our content. The current audiences are constantly on the move and are very interactive; they consume many types of content simultaneously; they give their opinion and, in a relevant way, they create. These factors come together, enabling us to build-up a new material and inspire us to create new content.
New York Festivals: How will storytelling continue to evolve to keep pace with the omni-platform environment?
Javier Castany: Well, here is where we find the new challenges. The key to evolve is to always keep this new audience in mind; we must understand their new habits, and never stop building and testing and proposing new ideas for those platforms. The omni-platform environment is here, no-one can deny it; we must keep walking with our eyes wide open. We all have to constantly learn, practice, take risks and try new things to discover ways we can capture the attention of the audience. Disney is on the cutting edge, and I think that one of the reasons why O11CE was so successfully is that we were able to feel and capture the precise spirit of this time. We are willing to go to these new platforms to find great new talent, such as Daniel Patiño, who came from the digital world and took part as a stable star in O11CE’s series. And he wasn’t the only one; we had other relevant youtubers such as Israel Rivera, from Mexico, and Guido Fernández, from Argentina. The interaction that we built with these characters and the public is new and different. The audience has a much more profound attachment and is a clear example of what we are heading to.
For more information on New York Festivals Television & Film Awards or to enter, please visit: http://www.newyorkfestivals.com/tvfilm/