We hosted the second in a series of exclusive Transmedia workshops last week in Washington D.C. with Starlight Runner’s Jeff Gomez. This time I had the opportunity to sit in on the workshop and wanted to share some key take-aways with DMW readers. For those of you not familiar with Jeff Gomez, he has worked on blockbuster franchises such as Avatar, Transformers and Pirates of the Caribbean.
His visionary take on the role of the Transmedia Producer (TP) in the media production eco-system, has now been accepted as the industry standard: The Producer’s Guild of America added TP as an official credit last year. The addition of a new credit is indeed a rare occurrence in the guild’s history and it was shepherded by Jeff Gomez along with other Hollywood executives such as Mark Gordon, Gael Anne Hurd, Alison Savage, and Chris Pfaff.
Specialist versus Generalist
In one sense, I was under the impression that the TP represents the rebirth of the Renaissance Man in media – a person who can create compelling content across platforms and mediums. It is only true to a certain degree. Jeff Gomez draws a parallel between the TP and the conductor of an orchestra. The TP’s role is to conduct a symphony of narratives and to make sure that the whole is more satisfying than the sum of the parts. So, the TP is in some sense a generalist, but he or she oversees a number of specialists and acts as the IP steward on behalf of the original creative visionary.
At Least Three Storylines
Jeff Gomez defines a Transmedia narrative or project as one having three (or more) narrative storylines existing within the same fictional universe. These narratives are NOT the same as repurposing content from one platform to be re-cut or otherwise altered to fit other platforms. Many studios tend to cheat on this and say that something is transmedia, when it’s really not by Gomez’s definition. A movie and its website is not a transmedia property. Nor is a TV-series distributed on Hulu. A Transmedia narrative has several original storylines for several different platforms, all connected and interlocked .
Take the Audience Seriously
In order to create the deep fictional world that is the basis of successful transmedia narratives, the story needs to have a past, present and future with internal logic and consistency presented in a convincing way that takes the world and media consumer seriously. This might seem like something only hard-core geeks and Star Wars fanatics care about, but the fact of the matter is that story matters and when creating a Transmedia property or franchise, details are important, because if only one instrument is playing false, it will ruin the whole concert experience.
Creating a Transmedia Bible
The transmedia bible is not only a written document, it’s a multi-year process for attracting and maintaining a mass audience to the IP universe through careful story development and marketing across multiple platforms and distribution channels on a global basis. The Transmedia bible includes briefs on fictional cultures, characters and the “rules” of the fictional world, so that all IP developed stays true to the original IP and plays well together.
Get a Good Lawyer
Perhaps this goes without saying, but creating a transmedia franschise is complicated with many moving parts, so it’s very important to get a lawyer experienced with putting these kind of deals together and knows how the rights flow.
Joakim “Jay” Baage