Transfixed by transmedia

Paula’s Post #6  – If you checked out Silk’s post from yesterday, you’ll already know that the 5writers came away from this year’s Surrey International Writers’ Conference with our collective heads swimming with new ideas.

For me, the highlight of this year’s conference was the emphasis on social media as a necessary tool for writers.

Now I take it as a given that if you are already following this blog, you have more than a passing knowledge of the basics of social media: WordPress, facebook, twitter, Linkedin and perhaps even Pinterest.

Even before the conference I had signed up for all five of these social networking sites, so I was feeling pretty smug. Convinced that I was already social networking savvy. Convinced I was already a ‘modern writer’. A connected writer. A writer ready to take on the world and promote my blogs, my books and myself.

But wait, (as they say in the late night tele-pitches for Ginzou knives and other obscure products) there’s more. Much more. A frightening amount more. Or so we learned from Vancouver’s own social media guru, conference presenter and all around cool guy, Sean Cranbury.

But wait! That’s not all. At this weekend’s conference, we also learned a strange new word:


As Joe would say: “What the heck?”

Here on WordPress, when I type the word “Transmedia” I ended up with those little dotted red lines underneath. The little dotted red line that mean that you have spelled a word wrong, the little dotted red lines that mean that the WordPress dictionary doesn’t recognized a word that you have used. In other words, in the world of WordPress, the word “Transmedia” doesn’t even exist.

But wait, there’s more.

The word “Transmedia” not only exists, it is, apparently, a word that we as storytellers should know. A word that, dare I say, we must know if we are to survive and flourish in the creative community.

The SIWC conference brochure listed the Transmedia course as:

“Transmedia, Audience Engagement and Franchise-Building: The Future of Storytelling”.

I’ve reproduced the blurb for the workshop directly from the SIWC’s description of the course:

Every area of entertainment media is rapidly evolving and there’s never been a better time to be a content creator. No matter what form your creativity takes, the future of storytelling lies in building a unique world and set of characters and then purposing the stories that spring from them across as many platforms as possible. Taught by a guy who’s truly obsessed with this stuff and working with various IP owners to evolve their content along these lines, this class will explore the core principles of transmedia storytelling and world building, techniques for engaging and motivating an “active” audience, as well as the emerging app space and virtual worlds/mark.

Now I was intrigued! Especially since the ‘taught by a guy’ guy was Luke Ryan, a pretty big name in Hollywood: Executive Vice-President of Disruption Entertainment, ex-studio executive at New Line Cinema, Paramount/MTV Films, and MGM. Another pretty cool guy.

By this time, I’d already attended Mr. Ryan’s very thorough and entertaining course on ‘Writing for Television’, so I knew he was a dynamic and generous speaker. During that presentation, my fingers raced across the keyboard of my Mac, trying to keep up with the deluge of information Mr. Ryan provided on this topic. So I was pretty keen to check out his subsequent offering on Transmedia, whatever the heck that might be.

I cannot possibly, in the limited space allotted to my once a week blog post, even begin to tell you all about Transmedia. What I can tell you is that the future of storytelling, whether you are an author, screenwriter, or film-maker, is now about cross-platform promotion of ideas.

Now I can already hear some ‘rustlings’ in this virtual room we share, rustlings that remind me, (ever so politely of course), that cross-platform marketing already exists. That it has done so for ages, since Star Wars anyway, if not before. Why, what about all those little Star Wars figures that McDonald’s included in their ubiquitous ‘happy meals’? What about all those Star Wars Lego sets?

Why, of course you are right. The Star Wars numbers are not insignificant. A recent article on the 24/7 Wall Street blog pegged the value of the Star Wars franchise at 30 billion and growing. That’s ‘Billion’ with a “B”.

So what’s so new about “Transmedia”?

Well, according to Mr. Ryan, the difference is that the Star Wars franchise ’emerged’ after the release of the film, that these ‘post-release’ products merely capitalized on the success of the film.

According to Mr. Ryan, in today’s brave new world, authors and other ‘creators’ of creative content should begin thinking about “Transmedia” at the very outset of their projects. Should be thinking about how their project could be promoted and distributed on a variety of platforms. How their product will capture the attention of an agent or editor or producer in a world where the competition is stiffer than a James Bond shaken, not stirred, martini.

I don’t have all the answers. But right now, I’m transfixed by the topic of Transmedia, and since attending the SIWC conference, I think all the 5writers are beginning to worry a lot about Transmedia.


As if we didn’t have enough to do! Thanks a lot, Luke Ryan!

1 thought on “Transfixed by transmedia

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