June 8, 2011
Not all transmedia projects can be as lucrative as The Matrix (photo): but they can help you make money. Here's how!
I firmly believe that creating a viable business plan – a plan that fits logically with the content without compromising it – can be as much of a challenge when it comes to transmedia as creating the content itself. It’s also one of the most interesting points in my opinion as a creative person; if our transmedia projects make money, that means we will get to go on doing them and also get the opportunity to create new transmedia installments.
In this post, I will look at some ways in which transmedia can benefit your project and your production, not only with regards to storytelling, but also with regards to the financial side.
Now, what is this thing you call “transmedia”? you might ask. Have no fear: you can read some of my previous posts here to understand transmedia better. In short, transmedia is the art of building a story world around your original property and creating new stories for different platforms, that still connect 100% to your original story. Basically creating more and letting the audience touch more of your story.
In a good post on Tribeca’s “Future of Film” blog, Nick DeMartino looks at data, the big film studios and social media. The traditional media, in this case films, are waking up to the powers of connecting with the audience on a real, genuine, authentic and above all one-to-one basis, creating not only fans but advocates along the way. It’s still early days, and very few – if any – have embraced the organic and free-flowing approach to this kind of connections that would move them from “big company lowering itself to the level of average people” to “big company is just like you and me, and someone I not only can like, but someone I can relate to”. Now transmedia helps with this pretty nicely (providing it’s well designed and well executed, of course).
It can also help your bottom line in several ways, all connected to this close connection to the content and to the genuine and logical ways of interacting.
- Firstly, a transmedia approach will help you in the development and design process, flowing over into the production itself. By building and creating the world, the mythology that ultimately will contain the specific content you are about to produce, and in the future many other pieces of content, you build a steady foundation to stand on while developing (which shortens development time) and a foundation to present to other team members and subcontractors, to make them see the same project you do.
- Secondly, when you’ve produced your content you obviously, in most cases, have distribution covered already, through a broadcaster or an online service for instance. The transmedia approach will assist you when it comes to distributing the content beyond these more traditional forms of distribution. Since your content has been, from the outset, designed to split on multiple platforms, with storylines designed for mobile, for Facebook, for graphic novels just to name a few possibilities, it will let you put your content and your story world on display in a much bigger window.
- Thirdly, your transmedia content has not only been designed to be on multiple platforms, it has also been designed to include the audience in one capacity or another. This in turn is wholly dependent on what type of interaction fits your content; it can be anything from commenting or (virtual or real life) treasure hunting to actually having an impact on your storylines in future installments. This in turn, this investment from the audience’s part, fosters interest and loyalty and is a solid base to build new installments on. It can also, for instance, make it easier to approach sponsors.
- Finally, when creating a transmedia product, the creator or creative team develop a story world, a mythology, and a narrative superstructure. These in turn make it a lot easier to develop new instalments within the scope of the story world, that easily and logically connect to the last series in a way that makes perfect sense to anyone watching.
To sum it all up – a well executed transmedia project will let you engage deeper with the audience, creating advocates out of them, while saving you money in the long run on the development and script writing budgets. It will let you reach more people in a better, more logical and more genuine way, and it will help you make them see you as someone they can engage with and be on the same level with.
So… what are you waiting for?
Matrix image inspired by excellent Transmedia site Transmedia Lab