In late May, dozens of teens and twentysomethings came together for Disney-owned Maker Studios' first-ever creator “boot camp,” to learn the ins and outs of how to make compelling YouTube videos from some of the company’s brightest stars.
But this two-day workshop did not take place at the online media company's Culver City headquarters, nor did it take place on the Walt Disney Co. studio lot in Burbank or anywhere else in the United States for that matter.
Rather, the boot camp happened in Singapore, an Asian financial hub that represents a significant business opportunity for Maker and others in the digital entertainment world who are hoping that country’s smartphone-wielding young people plugged in to its lightning-fast Internet will both make and consume online content in the future.
“We think there’s a lot of growth potential.” said Courtney Holt, Maker’s chief strategy officer, regarding Singapore and the larger Southeast Asian market. The multiplatform entertainment network has had an office there since late 2013.
“There’s a large amount of mobile video consumption. It made sense to be active in that market,” Holt added.
In Singapore, which has the 12th-fastest Internet in the world (the United States has the 16th), 87 percent of the population owns a smartphone, according to analyst Media Partners Asia.
According to Nielsen Co. data released in September, online video consumption is high across Southeast Asia, with the majority of digital consumers watching videos at least weekly.
That opportunity could be particularly appealing to Maker management. Disney bought the company in March of last year for $500 million in cash, but the deal could reach close to $1 billion depending on Maker’s performance and growth.
The boot camp featured panel discussions and hands-on workshops designed to help creators make more compelling videos, promote their content via social media and build a strong brand to attract a fan base.
Applicants were asked to submit videos representing the theme “Best Day of My Life” and describe a previous experience or imagined ideal day. More than a hundred applications were reviewed for 30 available slots. Winners were selected based on creativity and quality.
On the final day of the event, the participants and instructors produced videos together in different parts of the city.
“Walking around with some of the YouTube talent in Singapore, I was blown away by how much we got stopped and recognized in the streets,” said Sam Macaroni, one of the Maker stars who traveled to Singapore to help lead the boot camp.
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