Breaking barriers

Storytelling evolving along with business model

Transmedia is the biz buzzword du jour, but ask folk to define it and you’re likely to get a variety of answers.

One thing is for sure, though, says Liz Rosenthal, CEO of digital media consultancy Power to the Pixel: Storytelling and audience participation lie at the center of every successful transmedia project.

But what is the best financial model for transmedia projects, and how does that affect the form they take?

“There is no model at the moment, and while technology is changing so rapidly, the shape of these stories is changing too,” Rosenthal says.

In Europe, state film funds, such as CNC in France and Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg in Germany, are providing much of the impetus. These orgs tend to see transmedia as an area for creative R&D, rather than commercial endeavors.

Producers need to adopt an agnostic approach, says Nuno Bernardo, CEO at transmedia production company beActive.

Rather than think about a TV show or film, producers should develop an intellectual property and then exploit it on various platforms.

“One of the big advantages of transmedia is that you are not dependent on just one source of revenue,” he says.

The large international production and distribution companies are also moving at speed into the transmedia space.

Claire Tavernier, senior exec VP, FMX and worldwide drama, FremantleMedia, points out that the format model, which the company has used to great effect with properties like “Idols” and “Got Talent,” also works in transmedia, with different versions in different territories.

For example, “Sorted,” which recently won a Rockie award at Banff for online entertainment project, is a U.K. cooking show available on YouTube.

“It was about finding a group of young guys that were very suited to the YouTube audience, and we built a social environment around them,” Tavernier says. Social media interaction through Facebook is a central element of the show, which is targeted at 18- to 30-year-olds.

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