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Transmedia and the independent filmmaker

This video by Robert Pratten is a great introduction to what transmedia is and how it can be employed by the independent filmmaker (he also has a refreshing perspective on the “technological fetish” of our obsession with new camera technologies!). It’s a 45-minute presentation full of brain candy and should be required viewing for anyone thinking about telling stories across mediums. As Pratten stresses, “transmedia plays to indie’s strengths,” because delivering a consistency of story across platforms is possible for independent creators — not large studios made up of divided teams. In my opinion, his point about authenticity is even more important, because: I could care less about playing a social game if the original auteur had nothing to do with it, and I could care even less about buying a DVD if I suspect only 65 cents of a $15 purchase is going to find its way back to the original filmmaker. Creating our own cross-platform projects and retaining ownership not only gives us more creative control on all of the different incarnations of our story, it can also motivate fans to make purchases because they know we’re the ones benefiting from their support.

In addition to the above presentation, however, Pratten has written some very helpful articles at the Workbook Project on the process of developing transmedia projects:

As I develop my own transmedia project, there exists a certain tension between the story itself and the marketing of the story. Looking at Pratten’s charts, it’s easy to understand how the story in a transmedia project could easily become compromised by marketing and cross-platform promotional considerations. On the other hand, it’s up to us as filmmakers to have a realistic understanding of who our audience is, and how we can mobilize that audience. In this light, Pratten’s articles make for great reads; it’s up to us as storytellers to take these development processes into consideration, and then only use what fits our story.

The articles:
Evolutionary Entertainment: A 5-stage Development Process for Transmedia Projects
Moving Filmmakers to a Transmedia Business Model

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  • The problem with the “develop” side of the grahic here is that “story” is only 1/5 of the development process. How can he say it’s not about lessening the importance of story when he’s giving equal weight to “business model:” and “execution”?

    • I agree — it’s about finding a balance between practicality and idealism, I suppose. Good brain candy even if you disagree, I hope.

    • > hey Taylor, just discovered your comment – I know I’m 4 months late in responding but I hope it’s better late than never :)
      I’ve shown 5 components to the development process but this doesn’t mean that each necessarily takes the same effort or time to complete. If you want to spend a year developing your story and a week on the other components then “story” would be more important but they’d still be five components and the diagram still accurate.
      Also, equal means equal and not less. Therefore story is not any less important than business model if I say I value you them the same. Now, for those that argue story should be the most important thing above all else… then I’d ask how many amazing unpublished stories are? How many amazing scripts that haven’t been optioned? My point is, that when the story needs to be converted into something that costs money to produce, distribute or sell (a movie or a transmedia project) then there needs to be a business model to support the funding. If a business model can’t found then you need to change the story or else it will never be made. Finding a charitable patron, although not a market-based solution, is still a business model.

  • Pierre Samuel Rioux on 01.6.12 @ 12:15AM

    Robert
    This is interesting, i looking for something like this but for documentaries i do.
    The issue his what you do with the platform after the film it’s done ?
    Maybe if you think about the best way will be to developing product how are free and some how will be integrate in the documentary. But you need a lot a planning to do that and it’s easy to get a page a little strange or lost the control of it.

    But how do you deal with the communication in different platform or media, i am not interested to much with twitter and facebook it’s too much time consuming.But they have probably a way to do it.

    Now i will look your link.

    Zenfilms have someting to do with the film Zen noire by Marc Rosenbush ?

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