Storyworld Conference Day Two (Part 3)

by April Arrglington on November 28th, 2011

For Part 2 of this post click here.
Panel 5: Show me the money
So, where is the money?

At present moment content creators find themselves in the position where you not only have to be a storyteller, but a technologist and an entrepreneur as well. In addition to that, when you are dealing in the independent arena, you are looking into ways of not compromising your rights, your vision, your budget, etc.

As we all know, revenue streams vary from project to project. Revenue models used to focus on capitalizing from subsidiaries. Now the popular trend consists of picking between freemum and premium models. However, in order to really capitalize on your project other forms of revenue should be taken into account:

  • If you are an independent developing a small scale project, seriously consider that realistically your project is probably going to bring you more exposure than anything else. So aim to at least break even. Create a Kickstarter campaign to pay for production costs and other basic assets.
  • If you project is bigger in scale and you have a following and online visibility consider branding partnerships. Companies like YouTube are becoming big players under this model.
  • If you have a robust production company dealing with small scale direct revenue, then you are in a good position of designing a dynamic community infrastructure to develop the metrics needed to persuade broadcasters to unlock closed funds.
  • If your production company is already dealing with commercial projects, then consider investing in R&D. Development programs are very valuable, because they show if a model works, and how it can provide sustainability of growth. By being your on VC for your in house projects you are creating your own opportunities.
  • Other factors to look into include: tangible story artifacts instead of merchandise, unique live events, and subscriptions in innovative platforms for additional content.

Foreign coin: Canada vs. Australia

The situation in Canada is unique. It is a rich country for financing models but not business models. There is money available for digital media properties; however this doesn’t translate specifically to a Transmedia fund. The money available acts as a benefit package that is locked by the broadcasters. Which is to say that the qualifying digital productions need to follow the broadcasters’ requirements for acquisition. So ultimately it works like a co-production. Good news is that tax credits can be applied to Transmedia development.

In the case of Australia, an unprecedented 40% of uncapped funds are available from the government. And if you play your cards right and integrate your budget for production and digital assets, you can get enough funds to shoot an entire webseries with film production values.

In the case of the Australian property ‘Storm Surfers’, the revenue model basically consisted of the producers tax rebate, the government subsidiaries, the traditional theatrical advance, and the TV licenses. And because 51% of the copyright stayed in Australia, at least about 23% of the budget came from the Australian government.

A couple more lessons to remember from this case study include: borrow against subsidiaries to avoid audits, and look for co-productions with countries that offer comparable tax rebates.

NOTE: Fore more on business models creation look into Alexander Osterwalder book Business Model Generation.

Panel 6: The Way forward
The future now relies in the integration of story and technology. And if you can translate this relationship to dynamic functionality, then higher levels of engagement can be reached. Good news is that technology people and story people are finally talking to each other. And there is a paradigm shift in the way people are thinking about story in a more tri-dimensional way.

Lessons in Audience Engagement:

  • Learn about the user experience. People care not only about experiencing the story, but also how is facilitated.
  • Beware of the gamification of everything. Game mechanics work, but only when addressing certain needs that can only be uncovered by behavioral data.
  • Know your gateway audiences. For example, console players are already used to immersive experiences, so a transitions to more pervasive experiences for them is actually not that challenging.

Lessons in Technology Convergence:

  • Know how consumers use new devices. And where they look for a personable experience vs. where they look for interactivity.
  • Know that product development is just as valuable as content creation. Innovation can solve unforeseen problems planted by a Transmedia ecosystem.
  • Allow for consumer feedback, and how exactly audiences are compelled to push for a second screen.

Lessons on employing multi-platforms:

  • Learn how to reach audiences where they live, and what needs they fulfill by jumping to other platforms.
  • By the same token, platforms have different audiences, so cater differently for each one.
  • Craft multi-platform architecture for sustainability. It doesn’t matter in which platform you start, as long as you can pace the consumption of content.

What are the main challenges?

  • Taking responsibility for the fact that the integrity of a Transmedia strategy relies on multiple elements and not only the broadcasting and distribution methods. By becoming the gatekeeper of a property you should focus on keeping authenticity in a way that allows for a strong connection with your audience.
  • Realizing that there are many unforeseen cultural obstacles to take into account, like language, age and sex demos, and genre preferences.
  • Learning how to satisfy users looking into content co-creation. Curation is often needed in these instances and this is taxing, but it’s a necessary byproduct of the times.

What trends should we look out for?

  • Social TV: scripted programs are already experimenting with this new execution model.
  • Massive Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs): many exciting new applications are coming out of this field.
  • Augmented Reality: great innovative applications are coming out for mobile and tablet devices.

Final thoughts:

While is true that paid, owned, earned media has crossed into production from advertising, don’t be discouraged to approach new business models for your project. We are figuring Transmedia as we move along. Certain properties are educating audiences, which opens the door for new properties in the field. Right now we are moving through a production stage for all of us working in the field, which is good. We should be focusing on being prolific.

NOTE: If you haven't yet, check Tim Kring's further thoughts of the future of Storytelling here.

Posted in not categorized    Tagged with Ian Ginn, Hubbub Media, Ana Serrano, CFC Media Lab, Andrea Phillips, Marcus Gillezeau, Firelight Productions, Brian Clark, GMD Studios, Kicksatrter, YouTube, Storm Surfers, Business Model Generation, Alexander Osterwalder, Brian Seth Hurst, Alison Norrington, The Opportunity Management Company, storycentralDIGITAL, Vivi Zigler, NBC Universal, Tim Kring, Jeff Gomez, Starlight Runner Entertainment, Albert Cheng, ABC Digital


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