WARNING - you're about to enter into a reality that will make your brain connect with heart and so on and so forth. Check into the current mind of Sybil Steele. A natural born leader whom has recently taken on a fierce calling in the Tech world namely with VR and AR visual. Curiosity called us to Sybil to find out more about her latest venture Temme Media & Temme Studios.
Sybil, we’re so intrigued by your latest venture Temme Media - could you please tell us in your own words why it was born and what you're out to achieve with it? When I moved to New York from Byron almost two years ago, I thought I would continue to pursue fashion photography but I decided very quickly I didn’t want to be a photographer. I realised my skill set was better suited to making things happen in production, for women and with community from the global network I had built up over the last 10 years. I actually LOVE producing.
From another point of view, I have girls who are entering their teenage years and watch me very closely. What I pay attention to, what I do, how I act. I guess staring at screens of beautiful women for hours day after day in edits and as the core of my work didn’t really resonate for me anymore.
In the end, my passion for women’s rights, safety, and community won out over photography. The ‘US’ is very focused on ‘STEM’ for girls and because we had some 360/VR capabilities in house under our production belts, I began to think about the future of women and how we have to make positive content for young girls. They will be the consumers of Virtual and Augmented Reality more so than my age group. The challenge was to figure out how can we help ensure their future in technology is heading in the right direction. These technologies are overwhelmingly male dominated and content is made by, and created for, dudes.
Thus, the idea for Temme Media was born.
Virtual Reality seems to be talked about a lot lately, but we haven’t seen much really hit the mainstream (here in Australia anyway) - can you tell us more about what got you so focused on it and now as a platform for your business? TechCrunch predicts VR/AR to be a $150 Billion industry by 2020 with Augmented in the lead. You can tell by the announcements from Facebook's F8 conference last week and the potential of Apple releasing ‘something big’ that it’s on the brink of exploding and changing every single industry. It’s really no different than the Internet in the way that we will communicate. The forms might change over the next decade, including the names, but it is the start of something even if VR/AR don’t stay within these current definitions.
VR & AR GRAPH:
I also think some of us fear technology to some extent. There are pros and cons of each new development and it’s not going to go away, it’s only going to exponentially increase. There is a saying, “It’s not technology that’s the problem, it’s man that’s the problem”.
I can either go out and protest these weird nerdy headsets that turn people into zombies (unless it goes social which it will) or I can figure out how to produce worthy content for women and hope the headsets dissipate (which they will). And to ease some worries, real life is still better than these tech realities and real life in its core existence and real human interaction is not going anywhere. I think. For now, until Elon Musk turns us into half robots in a few years :).
VR has the capacity to take you to other places. Whether it’s travel, education, lifestyle, art, it can transport you. AR (Augmented Reality) has the capacity to offer more layers onto your reality and utility.
This is all so funny to interview back to Byron town, where all you need is nature and a simple pure life. I appreciate the contrasts of both Byron to NYC. Notice our graph is tech projecting nature. In Byron I would assume we would ask “but why”? This is a question we are asking for every single production in the Virtual or Augmented application: Why this particular idea through this medium?
As a platform for my new business, Temme is two parts- a creative/production studio @temmestudios that works with companies in the verticals of ‘fashion’, ‘travel’, ‘art + culture’, ‘social impact’, and ‘health + beauty’.
We help brands navigate these technologies by creating and applying the content to their businesses, campaigns and initiatives. We simplify and break down the process for them from creative to distribution. It’s confusing and overwhelming for brands when they are so busy on current initiatives to think of the future and complex tech coming down the line. Also how do they get it out there once they’ve made the decision to invest into the content? We’ve done all this legwork and extracted the best of what they need to know, how to do it and why.
The second part and bigger, more long-term goal of our mission pertains to your next question about the focus on women:
Temme focuses on women - this is totally cool - what do you want to communicate overall both professionally and/or personally in your vision with TM? @temmemedia is a digital platform and tech stack (all in progress and launching later this year). We call it a Media Revolution for the Future Feminine. But don’t get me wrong, it’s not all business and technology, there is the integration from studio commissions of travel, fashion, art, culture and all of it is infused with a strong modern female sensibility, career and technology. We are actually out to make it smart, aesthetically pleasing and simplified. Accessibility with a strong female voice creating and curating what we’d like to see. So I guess imagine bringing a magazine to life.
Women are 80% of online consumers and who is doing their marketing? Who is making the content for them that emphasizes the stuff they really want to see?
Within the framework of these technologies and where they came from - gaming - we don’t want to shoot people or be blown up, but I would like to pick my next holiday destination, have a cool experience in music or sit at a roundtable of power women. Really I’d also like to spy on your living room and how you decorated and be in your next campaign in the Maldives with you. I want my content simple, smart and beautiful and I want it to improve my life, not make me feel unsafe and confused.
Our main goal is not only carve out this space for women with these emerging technologies to view, create, participate in, but for them to have a strong voice and decision making process in how this is all going to go down.
When do we get to see some of your latest work? This week we are fine tuning our reel if you want to go to Paris, Morocco, New York, Mexico and some amazing tastemakers living rooms such as Julia Chaplin from the ‘Gypset’ book series.
Last week we filmed an artist series at Coachella and at Joshua Tree. On the flipside of lifestyle content we also finished our first short narrative film in VR: ‘Intrusion’, about a married immigrant couple in New York and how the voices in our heads and society build subconscious barriers into our most intimate relationships. It’s written by award-winning Egyptian poet Marwa and the Director is Suha Araj, a very talented Palestinian director in NY. We hope to have it on the film festival circuit and at MOMA in New York City.
Everything’s coming out… I’d say mid-year we’ll be much more public facing. We’ve been pretty heads down on pre-production and infrastructure so far.
So ah... Can you do a VR short for Saint Helena sometime? YES! Where should we go? The Maldives? Imagine taking your audience to your shoot in the Maldives. People process VR like a memory and it’s a very intimate experience. The fashion industry definitely needs an injection of something and they are going more experience-based rather than fashion shows and the usual expected initiatives. For the same reason that Tommy Hilfiger builds an entire world now for his shows whether a Titanic ship or a massive real life carnival at Venice beach. Consumers are craving one-of-kind experiences and a deeper connection with brands they love. It’s about the audience. In VR, it’s all about the audience, the viewer, the power of the connection and the experience it creates.
A couple more quick ones because we think you’re pretty interesting...
Current destination? New York
Next Destination? New Orleans + Tulum
Current Project? We are premiering four VR short films our studio made for my husband's surf film in conjunction with the Gagosian Gallery at Neuehouse NYC next week. I’m loving the artistic side and partnerships of the studio, it’s my personal favourite next to women’s programs of course! We are demoing our reel and custom app for a handful of some of the most creative boutique agencies in NYC so it will be fun to see which brands we will be making content for. I think the sky's the limit with these new applications. You can really create anything you dream of and transport people there.
Your latest personal inspiration? My friends. They are all so smart, creative, fun! All of them are such beautiful people. I feel very lucky to know such a community.
Daily mantra? Work hard and deep and be patient with yourself and those around you. Easier said than done. I definitely need a lot more ‘The Power of Now’ in my life with such a big agenda for the future on the table and so many new ideas to wrangle and edit down to what’s truly essential for the phase we are in.
Best moment in your career/work so far? Starting a company that I believe in to the core of its mission and that incorporates so many of my passions: creation, lifestyle, women, community, travel, business and production. Watching my team develop and blossom has also been really fun. On a local note I’ve got two Bryon crew on the team, one of whom moved to NYC last month. Missi from BeehiveByronBay.com helped me get to this point in the first place (thank you to Ellie from 11:11 for passing her contact on!). Our art directors are Sydney kids living in NYC and we have another Australian on our Board of Advisors. We are still holding on tight to our Oz family!
The single best piece of advice you can pass on to women starting out in your field? For VR and AR you can start now. It’s not too late. You can learn so much in a matter of a few months and be pretty close to what the industry agrees on from a business and marketing aspect. The tech side is a whole other aspect but you need the specialists in that field anyway. We are all just figuring this out and even those at the top of the industry are learning every day. No one is an expert and no one has all the answers. There are no use cases yet or successful business models proven to compare to. But it’s a whole new world, an extension of creating content from video and things are changing fast. Also call me! I love working with people whether business or creative. I think my entire network for the last 10 years knows if they want to collaborate, I’m here!
Thank you so much Shannon. And congratulations on your new venture. It’s gorgeous, purposeful and supports women. I love it! Can’t wait til our shoot :)