Ana Serrano, adjunct professor in OCAD U’s Digital Futures graduate program, has won the Digital Media Trailblazing Award at the 2016 Canadian Screen Awards. She is also the Chief Digital Officer of the Canadian Film Centre and Founder of CFC Media Lab, the world-renowned and award-winning institute for interactive storytelling created in 1997.
Congratulations on your Digital Media Trailblazing Award at the Canadian Screen Awards! How does it feel to be recognized like this?
It feels great and a little bit overwhelming. I feel quite honoured.
As Chief Digital Officer of the Canadian Film Centre and founder of the CFC Media Lab, what are the biggest changes you’ve witnessed in the past almost-20 years in the Canadian digital media scene?
The biggest change has to do with the adaptability, nimbleness and quick uptake of audiences. I didn’t expect the changes we’ve seen to be so constant.
I’ve also noticed the slowness of the rest of the industry to keep pace in relation to how quickly audiences have adopted to new digital media.
The third thing that I’m just starting to notice with each new tech platform and perceived tech leapfrog is that there’s an initial stage when we think we’ve created something new, such as virtual reality. We think we don’t have to look back. It’s true to a certain extent but there’s so much that’s happened in the past that informed it and we forget.
The CFC Media Lab is a partner with OCAD U’s Digital Futures program — why do you think this is an important partnership?
The CFC Media Lab always started with a mandate about talent — how do we help support and incubate the next generation of storytellers using whatever platform of the future. So, it seemed totally a no-brainer that as universities kept pace with changes in digital media that we’d partner with a university that can grant degrees.
Tell us about your IDEABOOST accelerator.
IDEABOOST is a digital entertainment accelerator. As talent, industry and audiences grow, the next phase is working with companies. IDEABOOST is focused on investment seeding and support for tech-based entertainment companies that are changing the face of entertainment in Canada.
What led you to working in digital media and why do you still love it?
I’ve always been interested in humanities and focused on storytelling. My first digital touchpoint was running a fiction and poetry magazine at McGill University. I started publishing the magazine digitally and I started to love the digital medium. I was later hired by Don Tapscott, with whomI learned a lot about the impact of the new medium.
I love digital media because it’s always new. I’m enamoured with taking risks, being first, doing something no one else has done, supporting underdogs and seeing difficult ideas come to life. Digital media is always changing and reinventing itself and I enjoy the complexity of it.