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Simon Staffans: How to make your Transmedia project a reality

OK, so your transmedia concept is ready to go. What next? Some tips from our resident expert

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Game of Thrones

Judging from eager conversations on conferences, amongst industry people and on blogs, Twitterfeeds and Facebook discussions, transmedia will not be going away in the foreseeable future. Which is a good thing in my book, as I regard it as a magnificent way of telling stories (when it makes sense in the context of the story, naturally).

No wonder then that new transmedia projects are springing up left and right; from big marketing campaigns ahead of major television series (Game of Thrones, photo) to more stand-alone web-based ventures (Robert Pratten’s Lowlifes comes to mind as a great example from earlier this year).

The question I’ll try to answer in this post is the very logical follow-up question – I have a great transmedia project; now what do I do with it?

Firstly, there are as many approaches as there are transmedia projects. I’ll be talking from the point of view of a transmedia format developer, looking to help someone without a clear market or a signed-up customer, but with a great transmedia project in her or his hand. With that disclaimer out of the way, some points I see as crucial when trying to get some traction on that great transmedia idea you have:

  • Is it what you think it is? Whatever your idea is about, there is a great chance that someone will have thought of it before you have. Since you are developing a transmedia story and story world, it will contain a number of stories, on the web, on television, in print and so on. Do a thorough online search and make sure that no one else has released an online game like the one you are planning, or a tv game show like the one central to your idea. (If they have, it might be an opportunity to get inspired by their efforts, and make sure you tweak your idea into something even better, but that’s another story!)
  • Protect your idea. Which is nearly impossible, I know, but all the things you can protect – PROTECT. You can protect a format via Frapa.org, for instance, you can trademark titles and tag lines, your copyright works for novels and so on… Just try to protect as much as you can. Otherwise your great idea might be someone else’s great project in the near future.
  • Be realistic regarding money. Read up on where the money is and new, viable revenue models. Include these, where appropriate and tweaked to fit, in your project. If you can show a project with realistically projected revenue figures, it will help a lot
  • Work on your pitch. There are a couple of guides on pitching transmedia, one by Simon Pulman and one, incidentally, by me, that can give some good pointers. Whatever you do though – don’t oversell! Transmedia in itself is a hard concept to grasp, so make sure you’re coherent and to the point – make it easier for the buyer to say “yes” than to say “no” (as it’s almost always much easier to say “no”, unfortunately)
  • Find the right people to talk to. Who is the right target for your project? Is it a brand? Is it a broadcaster? Is it an NGO or something else? It all depends on your story and story world, and of course on the media platforms you plan to execute your project on. Find out where their buyers and executives are, get a meeting (at one of the MIPs or somewhere else) and unleash your pitch on them.
  • Get it commissioned. Broadcasters are a given, if your project is of the kind that would include a hefty dose of television content. Look for the people commissioning new media, or interactive, or even transmedia. Take Rosie Allimonos at the BBC for example – she is a “multiplatform commissioner”, so she commissions transmedia content around BBC brands. Most broadcasters have similar people; go for the ones in the territories you concentrate on. Or you can approach brands; Nokia have done the awardwinning Conspiracy for Good, so if you could get five minutes of Tero Ojanperä’s (or one of his underling’s) time, you might get some positive results. If you believe your idea is strong and would be better off teaming up with a certain brand or a certain category of brands, an ad agency or creative agency (Mint Digital comes to mind as an example) might help you along the way. Or, if the above people tell you to get lost, simply go for it yourself; by this time you should have a firm grasp on the amount of money it would take to accomplish what you’ve been planning. Go crowdfund your idea on IndieGoGo or Kickstarter; if a movie can rake in close to $350.000, why can’t your idea?

Finally, hope for the best, and if it does get going, be prepared to work really really hard for a really really long time!

In the hope of seeing many more intelligent, logical, immersive and exciting transmedia projects in the future, and welcoming any comments on the brief suggestions above, until next time :)

MediaCity Finland format developer Simon Staffans contributes regularly to MIPBlog on transmedia and format-related topics. Read all his posts here.

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  1. Pingback: & from July! Simon Staffans: How to make your Transmedia project a reality | MIPBlog « Transmedia Camp 101

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