This post is part of a series of posts that covered our first FilmShop Lab, a hands-on all-day event where FilmShop members and partners came together for practical and engaging workshops and case studies in media production.
The Documentary Case Studies focused on two feature length documentaries that were workshopped in FilmShop and focused on the process of seeking funding, obtaining distribution and strategizing for the festival circuit and screening strategies. Both members took unique approaches to releasing their documentaries from traditional models – and found it to be more rewarding and that they strongly engaged with their viewer base in the process. Both of these documentaries were made by FilmShop members, and used the FilmShop to build and shape their documentaries to their final products.
The first ever New York Film Festival Convergence Program concluded last weekend with plenty of transmedia panels, demos and story-hacks. For filmmakers who couldn’t make it, but are transmedia-curious or looking to use it for your next project, here are five take-aways that you’ll find useful.
1. Give ‘em something to remember you by.
Try to incorporate unique, real-world items into a transmedia project that the audience will keep. These items keep the audience remembering the experience, long after it is over. Items can be monetized as well. Try to keep the items small. Scented items are a bonus, since smell has the strongest memory recall effect out of all senses.
2. You have a new palette of emotions to paint.
As a filmmaker, you may not realize that you have a whole new batch of emotions to toy with your audience in transmedia – interactive emotions.
You can have an audience feel guilty for accidentally sending a beloved character to die. They can fall in love with a flirty character. They can trust someone – then be betrayed. These types of interactive emotions are a whole new space to creatively explore. Because the audience is interacting with the characters, these emotions can have a more substantial punch to them as well. Here’s a first person account of a death of a beloved character in Perplex City to give you an idea of how this is a whole different world of emotions.
3. UX, baby.
User experience (UX) has only been in the world of engineers and software designers – until now. Filmmakers creating transmedia will have to create a frictionless user experience by understanding how the audience will be interacting with their story. Game design is also a whole new world to us and we should at least have a basic understanding of it, even if we’re going to be collaborating with programmers who will be doing the grunt work in this area.
John Sear from Wall Four, creators of the incredibly fun game (and intriguing social experiment) Renga, personally recommends Jesse Schell‘s Art of Game Design – A Book of Lenses. And here’s nine quick tips for UX. There’s plenty of other resources for game design and UX – but go Google it yourself – we’re preaching interaction here.
4. Audiences are more committed if they work for it.
People want to watch something they discover, not something they’ve been told to watch. As a storybuilder, you will need to create easy to access “rabbit holes” or portals that your audience will discover in various places of interest. They don’t have to be much – a simple QR code, website, one minute video or even text message. But these “rabbit holes” need to set off an easy to explore chain reaction that rewards the audience for interacting and discovering more of your storyworld. These types of entry points, compared to traditional advertising, will lead to more committed and active audience members.
5. Know the Tools
As with any new type of storytelling, the best thing to do is familiarize yourself with the tools for creation and successful projects.
A starting point to build a foundation on is Andrea Phillips‘ book “A Creator’s Guide to Transmedia.” The book defines the different types of transmedia storytelling, practical tools, pitfalls to avoid and case studies.
Many transmedia tools are free or very cheap to implement. There are obvious ones like Twitter and Tumblr, but here are some that are lesser known :
Twilio – For utilizing customized, responsive phone calls and text messages into a logic system or website.
Popcorn.js – An open HTML5 framework for interactive videos on a webpage.
Moveable Feast – Blend maps and multimedia for rich, in-person experiences.
IFTTT – Allows you to create triggers and actions for most types of social media and other popular internet services. Allows for automation of some types of interaction.
Know of any other excellent tools? Share them in the comments below!
By Theresa Loong
My first documentary as a director, Every Day Is a Holiday, is on television right now. I feel a quiet sense of accomplishment. I’m happy, yet still apprehensive, because I know my journey is only beginning. The film still has to make its way into the world, and with the new world of distribution, there’s a long way to go. Here are my reflections on the process, including how I received support from organizations such as The FilmShop.