Transforming Hollywood Returns

The sixth annual conference takes place on May 8, 2015

Transforming Hollywood 6: Alternative Realities, World Building and Immersive Entertainment conference (TH6), hosted by UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television (UCLA TFT), USC Annenberg School of Communication & Journalism and USC School of Cinematic Arts, is set for Friday, May 8, 2015 from 9:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television’s James Bridges Theater. The event is presented by The Andrew J. Kuehn Jr. Foundation, with additional support from Havas Media Group and entertainment news outlet Variety.

Created by UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television Professor Denise Mann, head of the UCLA TFT Producers Program, and Henry Jenkins, USC Provost’s Professor of Communication, Journalism and Cinematic Art, the sixth installment of the annual conference focuses on ways in which artists, advertisers, entertainers, journalists, scientists and others are making use of new technologies such as Oculus Rift and Morpheus goggles to create immersive storytelling worlds. (A number of these new technologies will be showcased at this year’s conference.) In addition, panelists will discuss our historical fascination with these futurist scenarios, many of which have been spun into now familiar tropes by prescient science fiction authors. Today, more and more of these futuristic imaginings are available for purchase, part of a new “Internet of Things,” that include designer wearables, such as Apple Watches, which seed consumer desire while offering corporations’ unfettered access to our daily lives.

The annual conference brings together key creative and corporate decision-makers who are shaping the industry, along with academics who are placing the ongoing changes in the industry into larger historical and cultural contexts.

TH6 conference panelists will include Kamal Sinclair, Co-Director, New Frontier (Lab Programs) at Sundance Institute; Ana Serrano, Chief Digital Officer of the Canadian Film Centre; Jez Jowett, Global Head of Creative Technology, Havas Media Group; Sara Thacher, Creative Lead, Walt Disney Imagineering Research and Development, among many others. Scholars from UCLA and USC will moderate the conference’s four panels: UCLA TFT’s Denise Mann and Jeff Burke, Assistant Dean for Technology and Innovation, and USC’s Henry Jenkins and Robert Hernandez, Associate Professor of Professional Practice, USC Annenberg.

Additionally, conference participants will be immersed in a conversation with Academy Award-winning producer Jon Landau (Titanic, Avatar franchise). Landau has played a significant role in numerous major motion pictures including the Avatar franchise, where he helped develop digital production tools that enable filming in virtual worlds and mass digital distribution of 3D movies. In addition to discussing virtual productions, he will also focus on intellectual property expansion strategies such as video games, comic books and more. The session will be moderated by UCLA TFT Lecturer and Executive Producer of the Academy Award-winning film Crash, Tom Nunan.

“New digital technologies come and go, but the public’s desire to engage with immersive storytelling worlds is here to stay,” says Mann. “At present, there’s a glut of gadgets and not enough content to support them. Panelists at this year’s TH6 conference will come together to debate the value of new, immersive world-building tools designed to enhance audience engagement.”

Adds Jenkins: “A key strand of this year’s event involves bringing together the perspectives of technologists with those of historians who worked on earlier moments of media change, a vantage point which can help us to qualify sweeping claims about the impacts of these still-emerging (and often precarious) technologies by looking at how earlier generations sought to expand sensory perceptions, to map and explore complex worlds, to immerse themselves into multimedia presentations, or to create intense collective experiences that remove us from the constraints of the everyday.”

Schedule Overview

9:00 a.m. - 9:10 a.m. Welcome and Opening Remarks: Denise Mann and Henry Jenkins

9:10 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. Panel One: Prototype the Planet: How and Why Expansive and Immersive Worlds Are Taking Over Our Collective Imagination

11:10 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. Panel Two: Brand New Vistas: VR & AR Create New Frontiers in Art and Promotion

2:00 p.m. - 3:50 p.m. Panel Three: Hip Deep in Knowledge: Virtual Museums, Immersive Journalism and Scientific Vistas

4:00 p.m. - 5:50 p.m. Panel Four: There’s Art all Around Us: The Aesthetics of Immersive Experiences

6:15 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. Special Event on Virtual Production: A Conversation with Academy® Award-winning Producer Jon Landau (Titanic, Avatar franchise), moderated by Tom Nunan, UCLA TFT Lecturer and Executive Producer of the Academy Award-winning film Crash

7:30 p.m. Reception

Admission is $40 for a full-day pass.

For more information on TH6, please visit

Tickets can be purchased at

Posted: April 14, 2015