Developing existing properties, a Simple Solution and SXSW 2011

Some thoughts on this week in transmedia (so far)…

Developing existing properties

If there is one company that one should take example from when it comes to transmedia, it is probably Starlight Runner. Jeff Gomez and his team has worked a number of bestseller, like Tron, Pirates of the Caribbean and so on. This week the news broke that SLR will partner with UK startup Witchfactory to develop their Adore-franchise. This is a franchise already in place, based on the notion that there are fairies living in the real world, in the shadow of us normal humans. The franchise is skewed towards 5-9 year old girls and the artwork (which has already gathered a following and is generating considerable reveneue early) is just exactly right for the target group (I should know, my elder daughter is 10 years old).

In the urge to create new transmedia ventures, projects and stories, I believe this is something to take example from. There is already a multitude of possible transmedia stories there to be developed, expanded and told. Many of these have a loyal following, or at least the power of recognition amongst an audience. It does not have to be anything as iconic as Back to the Future, although it could be, now does it have to be anything as revenue-making as World of Warcraft, although it could be that as well.

The obstacles are pretty easy to identify, the biggest probably how to get the original owner of the content/franchise to agree to a transmedia development. It would obviously help to have the reputation of a company like SLR, but not many of us are in such a position. What you could do is identify the best brands or the best stores you would like to work with. Next, identify which of them seem to be the most accessible and the most progressive. Then, take a day or two to outline the blueprint for a transmedia development, including estimates of costs, and adding useful links to similar, successful, transmedia adaptations of similar content. Finally, approach. Perhaps get someone to vouch for you, or go attend the same conference as someone from that company. Even better, just drop them a tweet, a mail, a phone call, asking if they are interested in hearing more. You’d be surprised how many actually say ”yes”.

Then it’s up to you to create a good enough plan to hook the potential future partner, and then deliver. Just remember – it’s their story, so in this case THEY are the creator. Yes, you are a creative and yes, you work creatively, but you really need to identify the essence, the tone and the soul of their content, if you want to be able to develop meaningful transmedia content for them.

And yeah, hands off The Phantom, he’s mine.

To hoax or not to hoax

Steve Peters had an excellent suggestion in a post yesterday. It has to do with stuff that has been discussed before, by me and others – to hoax or not to hoax people, especially in a transmedia setting.

I’m of the opinion that hoaxing most often is not the way to go. There are several reasons, but mainly it is put of respect for the user, and a feeling that if my content is good enough, I won’t need any hoaxing – the wilful suspension of disbelief will be enough. (Another side of the coin is ”telling the truth but not the whole truth, only the parts that fit into the transmedia story” which I am totally fine with – as long as the creators are aware that WHEN (not IF) someone finds out the ”whole truth”, it must not be anything that talks AGAINST the tone and feel and soul of the transmedia property. Otherwise, the backlash will be severe.)

Steve’s proposal is simple and great. Include a Fiction Tag to HTML, letting people easily find out if the site they are on is fiction or not. I support this; it would free us from gigantic logos intruding on our stories, and it would let ut NOT hoax anyone that does not want to be hoaxed, if we choose to use the tag.

I haven’t heard a simpler or better solution in, oh… several hours, I will readily admit. ☺ So, here’s hoping for an adaption!

SXSW 2011 Rookie Alert

I, along with a colleague of mine, will be attending SXSW this year for the first time. Looking at the schedules, the location of our hotel, the party listings and the amount of people attending, I would guess it will be a lot like the first time at MIPTV – a day or two spent walking around asking people where that session that started 15 minutes ago is being held, completely misunderstanding their advice, getting lost and ending up with a beer with some friendly guys from Australia.

If anyone care to give me some advice on HOW to prepare, WHAT is essential (it’s always something that’s so obvious to everyone that no one even thinks about it, like ”be at the registration office before 9.30AM otherwise you’ll NEVER get you badge”) and WHOM to listen to and meet, I’d appreciate it. Mail me at simon dot staffans at gmail dot com or leave a reply here. Thank you!

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