Women in digital media profile series: Ana Serrano on digital storytelling

Photo of Ana Serrano of the CFCAna Serrano is a digital media industry veteran. She started in the business before Netscape existed. Hired out of University by another digital media industry legend and famed author, Don Tapscott, Seranno was the first associate at Digital 4Sight (which was eventually acquired by Bell). In that role, she worked on e-business strategy consulting and groundbreaking research.

In 1997, Serrano was hired by Norman Jewison at the Canadian Film Centre (CFC) as the Director of the New Media Lab. During her time at the CFC, many of the projects that she has worked on have received awards and critical acclaim. In 2000, she produced The Great Canadian Story Engine. This was the first Canadian user-generated content website, where all Canadians could share personal stories about living in our great country. Serrano was also the executive producer and architect of Late Fragment – the first interactive dramatic feature film in North America, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in 2007.

Serrano will be speaking at the International Women in Digital Media Summit (iWDMS) in Stratford, Ontario on October 25th. I asked her about what she will be discussing at the event and her advice for young women who are just entering the industry.

What will you speak about at the iWDMS conference in October?

I’ll be speaking on a panel about “the Future of Transmedia Content.” I will focus on the tension between business objectives and media. Interactive storytelling, by its nature, tends to be cross-platform. From a business perspective, this helps to increase your audience reach. However, there are serious challenges in balancing the objectives between the business side and the creative side.

Who is your biggest female role model in digital media?

I’d have to say Janet Murray and the work she’s been doing at Georgia Tech. Her book Hamlet on the Holodeck: the Future Narrative in Cyberspace is a great inspiration for digital storytellers. However, there are so many women in digital media who inspire me that it’s hard to pick just one.

What advice do you have for young women who are just entering the industry?

Coding skills are extremely powerful. Even if you are not doing the coding yourself, it’s important to understand how it works in order to lead others who are developing your projects. So, I’d recommend that they start learning the basics.

Serrano will share the stage at the iWDMS in October with other remarkable women in digital media like Vancouver’s Catherine Warren from FanTrust, and Arianna Huffington of the AOL Huffington Post Media Group. Stay tuned for more profiles on other amazing women in the industry in the weeks to come.