Thoughts About Transmedia
‘Transmedia storytelling is the technique of telling stories across multiple platforms and formats using current digital technologies.’
My first experience with a transmedia project was last January at Sundance and it left me more frustrated and skeptical than anything. But since storytelling through multiple media has become the latest marketing tool for TV shows (more on that later) and movies (see The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo Craziness that took place last week and we’ll likely continue), it became clear to me that transmedia is already here, that it has to be acknowledged, understood and used.
I am still exploring the understanding stage and trying to figure out how these techniques can be applied -in a realistic way- for independent projects. Even though thanks to the digital revolution production costs have spectacularly dropped, an economic crisis has also hit the world (I’m sure you noticed) and paying your crew and your rent remain a key problematic.
How do you expand your story on to phone apps, websites, comics or treasure hunts when finding money to produce a movie is still an easy-to-lose battle?
And how transmedia storytelling will affect the place of movies in the general picture of storytelling?
As a director, I instinctively think that the movie is the center-piece of a transmedia project, but it is a costly piece of storytelling for often a small to no return.
New generations are coming, used to checking their phone while on their computer and the TV is on. They are used to online gaming and being an active audience. Not to say that the magic of narrative movies is dying, but with an attention span reported to be of a glorious nine seconds when we’re using digital distractions, one can wonder how long people will accept to sit still for two hours -assuming they still are doing it.
All this was a rather long introduction to something far more interesting than my thoughts, which is the TEDx Transmedia event that took place two weeks ago in Rome. Twenty speakers discussed the problematic of ‘Making a difference with Socially Responsible Media’ during 7 to 12 minute speeches.
I watched half of them so far, and put together, they give a larger picture of what has been done so far, what can be done and how, thanks to transmedia storytelling.
I chose to share below SVT Head of Drama & Entertainment Christian Wikander’s speech because, very rare fact, he talks about a campaign that went wrong.
Even though I am receptive to success stories and inspirational speeches, I believe that making mistakes is still the best way to learn. I am not pretending to be original here, but as widely shared this concept might be, it is not that often that a professional talks about what went wrong.
Christian Wikander, Head of Drama & Entertainment (SVT) ENGAGING THE DISTRIBUTORS, reaching a broader audience.
I also added extracts from speeches I’ve watched so far that are directly related to storytelling and entertainment.
Michel Reilhac, Head of Cinema, ARTE FRANCE TWICE UPON A TIME, a new storytelling language in the making.
There’s a big difference between the language of film and the language of transmedia. Film has evolved over the years to become a sophisticated visual language while transmedia will evolve to become a complex behavioral language.
Rosie Allimonos, Multiplatform Commissioner (BBC) Dr. WHO AND MYTHOLOGY, travel across time and space.
As storytellers we need to tap into mythology to reaching into [the] collective unconscious and tell the stories that matter, the story that help people deal with the secret pains of life.
Andrew Slack, Executive Director, The Harry Potter Alliance THE STRENGTH OF A STORY – (Harry Potter Alliance) doing good for the World:
We dream at night, all of us, but our culture dreams through our books, through our movies, and through our stories. And when we work with those stories we are doing cultural dreamwork. When we work with those stories that we’ve put a lot of energy into, we are doing cultural acupuncture.