Transmedia Hollywood 3 Coverage (Part 1)

by April Arrglington on April 24th, 2012

#TH3: Rethinking Creative Relations

Panel 1: Realigned Work Worlds – Content creators looking beyond Hollywood, Silicon Valley & Madison Avenue for collaborators in the 2.0 space

On the convergence of the different entertainments communities:

We are entering a period in time where marketing and content are becoming indivisible. This is mainly because the way to get noticed in this saturated market is by making your experience more valuable and content driven. Traditional marketing models are becoming less relevant and efficient, especially now that everything is driven by social media. Besides, there is a new generation of content creators that have come up with new technological tools that allows them to carve their own space in the market. This is why Hollywood, Silicon Valley, and Madison Avenue have been forced to converge. It’s a sign of the cultural shift of our times. Granted, because we are still in a transitional period there are many communication issues between the silos in these spheres. But these are growing pains that are expected to be overcome if there is any hope for an efficient integration of these entertainment communities.

On other issues that arise:
  • Because the line it’s blurring between what we consider marketing and art, the issue of measurement has become a complicated one.
  • Because so many new distribution channels have arisen as well, there is also the issue of where to release your content in a fitting way.
  • Other issue to consider is the generation gap. Older generations are having trouble catching up with emerging distribution channels. They come from the mentality that entertainment is broadcast and not necessarily interactive. They are slowly discovering the value of additional content spread through different platforms.
  • While technology has enabled the space to become more democratized, you must never forget about production values and putting out high quality content.
  • Also, be mindful that this all feels like a disruptive movement because is happening during an economic crisis. Some companies are more risk driven than others, who may only go about funding projects via media buys. Even the guilds have lost their footing in the shift. As we figure our way out of the current influx situation, stay passionate and don’t be afraid of failing. Just avoid digital 'sweat shop' environments that claim to be entrepreneurial. And remember that being prolific is the best way of becoming efficient in what you do. 
On other influential factors:

While spreadable media, collective intelligence, culture technology, and the crowd sourcing movement have accelerated the convergence of Hollywood, Silicon Valley and Madison Avenue, the question often arises of what is the middle ground. The creative community is interested in content, the technology community just wants to facilitate channels of distribution, and marketers are focused on selling you beautifully branded products and services. The basic answer lays in being sincere and ingenious about what you have to offer. The last thing you want to do is look at your audience only as data and their privacy as your only currency.
Case Studies and Properties mentions:

By Nick Childs
  1. 'Beyond the Still' Cannon Contest which then turned into 'Reverie' film that premiered at Sundance last year. 
  2. Transmedia property "13 Reasons Why" that I have mentioned here at the Jump before. The driving platform is the book, released back in 2007, that explored additional content across multiple platforms. Now a best seller, the property has been picked up for film rights. 
  3. Pandemic 1.0 by Lance Willer, who Childs collaborated with for the launch of the live experience at Sundance last year.
By Lee Hunter:
  1. The Youtube Symphony Orchestra collaboration project.
  2. The Youtube Space Lab experiement.
  3. The Parisian Love campaign to launch Google Search Stories.
  4. The branding of Youtube channels showcaseing prolific content creators like Felicia Day with The Guild, her Flog, and her most recent Geek & Sundry channel. 
  5. 'Life in a Day' film collaboration with Youtube, which was produced by Scott Free and released last year.
By Jordan Levin:

  1. Dawson's Desktop.
  2. Additional content for Walking Dead released online including webseries, games, and apps.
  3. Same thing for Teen Wolf, including a webseries, a comic, and integrated marketing content. 
By Jennifer Holt:
  1. The Media Industries Project at UCSB in collaborated with the Carsey Wolf Center.
  2. Published 'Media Industries: History, Theory, & Method' book in 2009.
  3. Published 'Empires of Entertainment: Media Industries and the Politics of Deregulation' book last year about the politics and policy behind the purchase of studios by multi-conglomerates, and how we have a role and voice as citizens of media culture.

Panel 2: Creative Economies - Commercial vs. State-Based Models 

In countries with strong state support for media production, alternative forms of Transmedia are taking shape. How has Transmedia fit within the effort of nation-states to promote and expand their creative economies? Are there limits where the money comes from?

At a governmental level it is difficult to move away from the silos, for the funding bodies have an agenda too. You almost have to section off your budget, and apply to different grants for different sections of your project because double dipping into same segments of the state government is not allowed. 

Some people are actually looking to have their Transmedia projects funded by multi-national collaborators interested in acquiring certain rights in advance, much like you would an independent film. So the end result is a patchwork involving a lot of deals. 

In the private sector, great companies like Hoodlum that are coming up with great Transmedia campaigns (for the Flashforward property for example) get their money pulled to do traditional marketing. And that’s a shame in terms of having to leverage $25,000 for Transmedia vs. $1million for a 30 second TV spot. We need to bridge the gap people.

It is no secret that Canada is invested in interactive media. There are many grants and programs in place through places like the Canadian Film Centre, the Mobile Experience Innovation Center, the National Film Board of Canada, and the Canada Media Fund. However, is also important to note that as of this year Canada took on a $6.9 million cut in media funding. This translates to the notion that public media is losing its capacity at the forefront.

The problem in Latino America is that it’s assumed that it’s a heterogeneous territory and it’s not, especially when it comes to platforms and telecommunication systems. Also, in big markets like Brazil, funding is more grass roots in contrast with places like Canada. It used to be that media was heavily funded by the state, now even piracy is considered a distribution platform.

The real problem in territories like Brazil is that content creators love to produce but hate to develop. Transmedia takes a lot work that mostly goes into breaking down the silos at conglomerates, which can be an up hill battle because the people at the top are so set in their old ways.

Brazil also faces the problem of accountability. If someone funds a million dollar project with no need for ROI then a lot of bad projects are going to come out of that initiative. The infrastructure for any one project needs to have a clear focus, whether is education, social change, or advertising.

On the other hand, Telcos are the ones most interested in developing a Transmedia ecosystem in Latino America. While IP is at the center of everything, we have to remember that Transmedia is not only about developing content, but a whole ecosystem of brands and studios that support the IP. We are seeing this shift in mindset in territories like Mexico, where a huge entertainment conglomerate like Televisa is invested in the value of buying Telcos for the first time in history, which is unheard of behavior up ‘til now.

Final Thoughts:
Companies and brands won’t embrace Transmedia completely until they realize that in today’s market they have to function like publishers and broadcasters. And even then, it feels like Transmedia is still going to be the poor bastard stepchild of traditional media until it starts generating real revenue.

Right now models like pay-to-play are a concern, because you are creating projects where nobody is actually paying for the content. By the same token, ad executives are funding Transmedia projects as media buys, so they’re not financing the content itself. So far the intent and comfort level in Transmedia lays in R&D and metrics.

Another solution to the funding predicament, other than pursing tax incentives, is to go the crowd sourcing route and look at people who are willing to spend money on your project in exchange of becoming a part of your project design.

Case Studies and Property Mentions:

  1. Elite Squad spread across Brazil through pirated DVDs, and since its release in 2007 it has become a cultural phenomenon.
  2. "The Writer’s Guide to Making a Digital Living" book by Christy Dena.
  3. The Transmedia Lab out of France mentions a collaborative partnership with the Annenberg Innovation Labs.
  4. Business Model Generator gets a mention when talking about aesthetics vs. commodity in Transmedia design, and the semiotics and intertextuality of multiple platforms.
*NOTE: the last 2 panels will be covered on the next post, stay tuned. 

Posted in News    Tagged with #th3, Denise Mann, nick childs, jennifer holt, lee hunter, jordan levin, Fleishman Hillard, YouTube, Generate, beyond the still, reverie, 13 reasons why, Pandemic 1.0, symphony orchestra, space lab, Felicia Day, Life in a Day, Dawson's Desktop, Walking Dead, Teen Wolf, Morgan Bouchet, Christy Dena, Sara Diamond, Mauricio Mota, Jesse Albert, Laurie Baird, Flashforward, Hoodlum, Televisa, Elite Squad


Billybob - April 25th, 2012 at 11:06 AM
If you folks are such geniuses at all things media why don't any of the links in your article take you to the subject material...pretty funny.
April Arrglington - April 25th, 2012 at 11:56 AM
Odd, it must have been a formatting error. I ran through it again and everything should be in working order now. Thanks for the heads up.
Billybob - April 25th, 2012 at 11:56 AM
Mucho mejor! :^)
Lauren Scime - April 25th, 2012 at 9:58 PM
April, you are awesome - I was sick and couldn't attend this year (total bummer) but your summations make it so I feel like I was there and got the major conversation points! Thank you so much for filling the sad void in my life brought on by some silly virus! xoxo! Can't wait till the next installment :)
April Arrglington - April 26th, 2012 at 12:11 AM
Thank so much Lauren! OMG I hope you are no longer sick! xoxo

Francesco Fiore - May 7th, 2012 at 9:26 AM
Great article and extremely interesting. I would love to pose some questions, add some comments, give my vision on transmedia and convergence. Faster than explaining a concept, at this time I would prefer to put under the author's attention a brand new case of transmedia, a new show called "Sound Democracy" which has been presented recently at MIPTV in Cannes and that it shows a new way of conceiving online creative crowd-sourcing.
Connie Jordan-Carmichael - August 10th, 2014 at 11:07 PM
Great information ! Some people may only like or may prefer one media over another, but for some the fact that different media exists creates a telecommunications for new fans of both comics and movies or television.

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