Dyllan McGee Explains: ‘Explosion of Platform is an Explosion of Opportunity’

Photo credit: Jan Goldstoff

We recently caught up with Emmy Award-winning producer Dyllan McGee at the WiCi Awards sponsored by New York Women in Communications (NYWICI).

The event honored rising stars in media and as McGee emceed, we couldn’t help but get a dose of inspiration from the filmmaker herself.

She created and founded MAKERS, a digital and video storytelling platform that aims to be the largest and most dynamic collection of women’s stories ever assembled. It launched online in 2012 and premiered on-air in 2013 on PBS.

MediaJobsDaily: What were your thoughts when you started out doing a documentary about women only to find out it had never been done before?

Dyllan McGee: I went to Gloria Steinem to do a film of her life and she said no. She said, “There are so many stories, you can’t tell the story of the woman’s movement through the story of one person.”

I thought surely someone’s done this. And in fact, no one had done it. I was actually excited. You know when no one’s done something? And you think, “I’m going to do that!” I felt like I had the opportunity to do something really important.

MJD: I heard you recently went to China to work on MAKERS. What was that like?

DM: What was so amazing about being in China was that they haven’t documented any of the history and to know that we were not just us doing it — we were working with the Chinese team and the pride that they felt in preserving the stories of these women. It felt almost like we were starting a mini-movement!

MJD: What are thoughts on being a MAKER yourself?

DM: (Smiles). I like telling other people’s stories. That’s my role.

MJD: What advice do you have for media folks who are thinking outside the box and what to do something new yet may be feeling frustrated?

DM: It’s interesting tonight — one of the women was talking about Snapchat and how you can’t run away from these things. Embrace these things and see what they can do for your medium.

I think storytellers are stuck in the usual mode of oh, you just make a documentary that goes on television or in the movie theater and this explosion of platform is an explosion of opportunity. Rather of seeing it as a scary thing, it’s seeing it as an opportunity.

MJD: And what are your thoughts about partnering with AOL on MAKERS?

DM: AOL has been transformative. I came in being a pure filmmaker wanting to do films for the internet and they said, “We think this can be a brand.” And I said, “No, no, no. Filmmakers don’t do brands.”

And now I think a brand is the best – a brand means making an impact and telling people what your values are and I think MAKERS has accomplished that.