The Long Haul

I tweeted this question earlier today, but 140 characters is pretty short when struggling with difficult terms and even more difficult nuances. What I would love to discuss with other people in the same field is the question of formats and transmedia, especially when thinking about marketing and localization etc.

The terms

To be clear with the terms we are talking about, when I say ”format” I mean that which in it’s most traditional sense is a television format. The recipe and the know-how, the production notes and the hard- and software needed to re-make a certain show or series in another territory – that is a format. And formats is a big business nowadays; not only stuff like Big Brother or Millionaire, hundreds, if not thousands of formats are being marketed and produced, in every genre from game shows to children’s TV.

It also makes perfect sense – if a show has been successful in a certain territory, and you can buy all the knowledge and content needed to re-make your own version of that successful story, you would most often go that way, were you a commissioner or acq. executive who needed to not be in the red when the financial year draws to an end.

Now, as most people agree on, transmedia is the telling of one or several stories over two or more platforms, with the stories all being connected to a greater storyworld, the mythology of the stories and their context.

So, to the point I’d like to discuss: formats and transmedia.

Many, if not most, transmedia projects are one-offs. It is a crime novel with a Facebook connection, or perhaps something tied to a live event with people searching for clues within a certain time limit. As I’ve preached before, I firmly believe that we should also look to create transmedia projects that can run and run, of their own accord and with a sound business plan as part of the core. I.e., what I want to make is transmedia formats, that can be localized, marketed, and enjoyed in different territories, without losing out on the story, the mythology, the narrative superstructure.

Some questions

What I’d welcome some thoughts on is basically:

– Can transmedia be formatted, and still not lose out on the crucial story and storyworld?
– Are there genres that would be more suitable for transmedia formatting than others, or are we talking on a project-by-project basis?
– Any thoughts on whether a transmedia project having run in one territory would make audience engagement deteriorate in later territories due to it not being ”fresh”, or is there just a lack of localization (which in a transmedia setting probably should be called ”creative wipe”, cleaning off and drawing new content on the same blackboard)

Discussions are welcome. Will update when I know more about this.

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