5Q’s With…George Ruiz
If we learned anything from the New York Times’ article on Jenna Marbles this weekend, it’s that behind every great creator there’s a great team to help the business go ’round. Endorsement deals, content deals, partnerships and of course, the ever-gazing eye toward potential cross-over opportunities to mainstream media. Enter George Ruiz.
Former Head of Digital at ICM, and current President of Intelligent Artists and SVP of Bedrocket West, Ruiz has represented top talent in the digital entertainment industry, including Felicia Day, Kevin Tancharoen (Mortal Kombat: Legacy) and Taryn Southern. He also helped co-found the International Academy of Web Television. And if that isn’t somehow enough to impress you, he’s even consulted with NASA on new media-related projects.
Following his departure from ICM to start Intelligent Artists, Ruiz also set off on a passion project to produce his first short film, ‘First Impressions,’ which was written and directed by Leo Kei Angelos (“Auror’s Tale”) based on an original story by Ruiz. Starring Hailey Bright, Chester See and Doug Jones, the short film is set for release in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for more updates on “First Impressions” near future.
And in the meantime, we decided to pick Ruiz brain on the state of the online video biz, fresh off his new deal with Bedrocket Media Ventures to serve as the SVP of Bedrocket West.
1. What are you most looking forward to seeing happen by the end of 2013 in online video?
I’m looking forward to seeing major brands embrace made for online programming. Instead of treating digital programming as a marketing tool for TV and film, there will be shows that draw larger amounts of brand dollars because audiences support and loyally watch their favorite digital shows. Also, the death of the perception that an online eyeball is somehow worth less than a traditional media eyeball. The online eyeball is typically way more engaged with the content it’s watching than the more passive TV and film eyeball. The money behind programming is waking up to this.
2. You’ve worked with online video all stars like Felicia Day and Taryn Southern, what would you say inspires you most about working with creators?
Everyone I represent inspires me through their innate ability to create something wonderful using ever evolving tools. They don’t think linearly or with a one platform mindset. They instinctually make connections between content, platforms and audiences to create new experiences that cause people to smile, think and remember. The artists I represent care more about the audience experience and less about the revenue strategy – they leave that part to me. Someone that can harness technology to consistently evoke emotion is someone I want to work with.
3. What’s the biggest education curve you face when negotiating deals for talent like Felicia Day who have built their businesses online before tackling traditional routes?
The speed at which traditional media moves is always a surprise to my clients moving into TV, film and publishing. It’s feels so slow and full of committee decision-making, “executive notes” and lawyers. Not at all the pace at which they are used to making online content. Granted, there are lots of great shows and movies (Game of Thrones, Mad Men, Star Trek movies) that require the greater resources of the traditional media machine, but the seemingly glacial pace of “consensus” and deal-making is a huge learning curve for digital talent.
4. Who do you think is killing it in online video right now?
Vice. They have an innovative and unalloyed brand that doesn’t compromise on their standards. That’s rewarded with great online viewership and now an HBO series.
5. When was your first online video ‘Aha’ moment?
October 12, 2005 when Steve Jobs announced the first iPod to play video. Getting my favorite podcasts like Diggnation and Tiki Bar TV onto my iPod changed everything. I knew then that the content we loved was going to be with us everywhere.
George H. Ruiz is the CEO and founder of Intelligent Artists. He is the former Head of New Media and Senior VP of Business Affairs at ICM Partners. He has represented traditional and new media talent and negotiated acting, directing, producing and literary agreements with major studios and independent production companies on behalf of his clients have included Felicia Day (The Guild, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along-Blog, Geek & Sundry), Jenna Marbles, Kevin Tancharoen (Mortal Kombat: Legacy), Veronica Belmont (Tekzilla), Dane Boedigheimer (The Annoying Orange). He has made new media content deals for his clients with some of the top technology companies in the world including Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Google, Netflix, Hulu, AOL, Electronic Arts and Sony. He has also consulted on new media projects for NASA.
Tags: 5Qs, agent, Bedrocket, Bedrocket West, diggnation, Felicia Day, George Ruiz, Intelligent Artists, Jenna Marbles, manager, online video, steve jobs, Talent Manager, Taryn Southern