Allen Chiu | Design EditorPulp
DreamWorks CEO talks, inspires at forum hosted by USA Today
Turning outward to the audience in the Joyce Hergenhan Auditorium, Jeffrey Katzenberg told them to close their eyes and imagine the most beautiful thing in the world. For him, it wasn’t a landscape or specific item he pictures. What Katzenberg thinks of is laughter.
“The most beautiful thing for me is laughter, and the best of that is the laughter of children,” he said. “Having your job be about making laughter is incredibly rewarding.”
Katzenberg was the honorary speaker at the USA Today CEO Forum. The S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications hosted the forum along with a luncheon held for Newhouse students and professionals alike to mingle, held at 12:30 p.m. in Newhouse.
The forum, held at 4 p.m., was a Q-and-A session between Katzenberg and the guest interviewer, Mike Snider, USA Today Tech & Entertainment reporter. After the discussion, a reception was held in the lobby.
Katzenberg is the CEO, co-founder and director of DreamWorks Animation SKG. He has worked for Paramount, Disney and founded DreamWorks SKG before branching off from live action and solely focusing on animation.
The forum was filled to capacity with professors, students, fans and film enthusiasts alike. Some arrived as early as an hour before the discussion, according to a tweet from Robin Irwin, USA Today’s Regional Marketing Director. The excitement and dialogue amongst the crowd showed how excited people were to see the man that was responsible for many of their childhoods with movies such as “The Little Mermaid” and “Shrek.”
At 4 p.m., Snider and Katzenberg took their places onstage as Newhouse Dean Lorraine Branham spoke a few words about the event.
“Newhouse and USA Today share a common goal,” Branham said. “Young people want to be informed.”
She then recognized Katzenberg as an “accomplished visionary,” and one of the “entertainment leaders.”
After Branham’s remarks and a short video, Snider started asking Katzenberg his questions. The questions ranged from asking about the technical aspects of animation, such as the company’s focus on cloud computing and the latest software, to how handheld technology is shaping the film industry’s future.
Snider also asked about the kind of atmosphere that Katzenberg wanted to create at DreamWorks.
“I have always loved my work and want everyone to feel the same,” Katzenberg said in his answer.
Katzenberg described the company as a campus, complete with a beautiful landscape. This is designed to spark creativity for the artists, Katzenberg said.
Once Snider had wrapped up his interview, he turned to the audience for its own questions. A variety of questions dealt with what college graduates should do in order to enter companies such as DreamWorks.
“There are two things I have lived by,” Katzenberg said. “Give a 110 percent to everything you do, and always exceed expectations by a little bit. And the second thing is that you actually have to believe in yourself.”
Another similar question regarded which was the “best step” to start the process of entering the industry.
“There is no best step — only a step. And I suggest you take it,” he said.
He then was asked which film meant the most to him.
While he said he could not choose one in particular, he did denote some films, such as “The Lion King,” “Spirit” and “Madagascar,” that had personal meaning.
“‘The Lion King’ was based on something that occurred to me in my life,” Katzenberg said. “Simba coming back to face Scar — that’s an allegory for me.”
As the forum concluded, Branham presented Newhouse spirit wear to both Snider and Katzenberg, and an award to Katzenberg commemorating his leadership in the entertainment industry.
Katzenberg stepped down from the stage and entered the crowd to talk and shake hands at the close of the forum. Before doing so, he made one parting statement.
Said Katzenberg: “Give 110 percent.”
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