Friday, 12 October 2012

Transmedia and Web Series

Here I discuss the storytelling possibilities of Transmedia and my meeting with Mike Johnston 12/10/2012.
I wanted to discuss my Creative Enterprise Project proposals with Mike Johnston because, being the tutor who assessed me for Planning and Making a Film, I knew he would provide some good advice. Boy, did he! I sat there talking with him for an hour (he did most of the talking).

I started off telling him what I had said to Mimi, in regards, to what I wanted to do after Uni – that I just want to tell stories through filmmaking and that I want to make a short film for my CE project. I also told him about my concern over being marked for making a short film again and how this could clash with Planning and Making a Film, but he said not to worry too much.

The key point he made - he has no doubt that I am capable of making an engaging short film (which was immensely reassuring to me). However, if I wanted to tell stories there are other ways in which I could do it and in areas that would allow me to branch out and explore the industry, which is what the CEP module criteria encourages.

He introduced me to a phrase I had never heard before: Transmedia Storytelling, which, if you want an example, is what the modern series of Doctor Who is doing. Doctor Who is transmedia storytelling because it tells its stories not just through the television episodes, but through novels, webisodes, comics, etc. You also have vast amounts of content detailing the behind the scenes information, toys, merchandise, conventions, fan fiction, podcasts, blogs, websites and the Doctor Who Experience. Transmedia storytelling is your basic exploitation of a franchise by its overseers and by its fans to tell stories across multiple platforms. I mean, I’m doing it now! If I do make a short film it would link to what I’m writing now, because I’m writing the story of how it came about, right now. Blimey, that makes my head hurt!

The reason why Mike flagged it up to me is because this is still a new, emerging area that is crying out for people to produce content. If I could somehow plug my CE project into this area it would bring in the marks and act as a good springboard for employment.

However, he voiced the same anxiety I have strolling around the back of my head – is making a short film going to push my skills enough to get a good mark for the module, get me the employment I want after Uni or act as a good application for postgraduate study?

Making a short film would be an incredibly inward way of approaching the module because, on it’s own, it doesn’t really allow me to explore outside the module in to the wider arena of the Creative Media Industry. Mike, quite rightly, said that no one has made a career out of just making short films. They’ll make one or two short films as their stylistic calling cards and then go on to other things, such as feature filmmaking, documentary making or television production, etc. These are not bad outcomes but the way in which stories are told is changing and the short film format on it’s own is becoming old fashioned. The way stories are told will change even more once television and the internet are the same thing (it’s going to happen), let’s not even move onto what’s going to happen to cinema (hopefully, IMAX will still be around once the multiplexes have vanished).

Mike argued, by doing a CE project that is concerned with transmedia storytelling, such as producing a pilot webisode for a short web series and promoting it on line, I would be demonstrating real forward-thinking and would be employing all the skills he has already seen me demonstrate. Mike has also supplied me with some links and resources, which I’m going to have a look at.

At the moment Eyes is still only a proto-idea, it is not a full-fledge plot for either a fiction short film or a mockumentary short film. Therefore, there is no reason why it can’t be developed for another format; even if it is across multiple formats.

The fact of the matter is, I’m betting everything I have on this final year and going all in! This year will probably break me but it also needs to make me and the CEP is my opportunity to really demonstrate what I can do. The question is do I do something that may not push me far enough, such as making a short film?

Mike even said it’s possible for me to use the Uni’s resources after (if) I graduate. I have already considered using the May/June period to make a short film, so that is also possibility. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to make a short film, but actually the options I have available to me are vast and varied. All I know is I have to make something for this module – it’s inside me and it’s crying out to be made!

However, I am not saying that I have abandoned the short film; I may even be able to combine aspects of the transmedia option with it. As I said to Mike: “I need ideas to make new ideas”. Therefore, I’m going to keep developing the story of Eyes and keep acquiring new suggestions for other roads I could take my CE project down. The initial proposal isn’t due until just before Christmas and even then it can be altered. For the time being, I’m just going to keep feeding my brain new ideas and options and see what wonderful new combinations it can make from them.