Creative Media Convergence at Digital Minds Day, London Book Fair

In response to the many emails and questions I’ve had regarding the Creative Media Convergence conversations at London Book Fair, Digital Minds Day, please see below table plan, topics and speakers.

Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow! Hashtag digiconf12

 

 

 

 

LBF Digital Minds partners with storycentralDIGITAL – let’s talk!

Content is King.

I know because Bill Gates said so, and that’s also the session title for the Andrew Steele (of Funny or Die) keynote at the 2012 London Book Fair Digital Minds Conference.

In the 16 years since Mr Gates coined that phrase, a host of media and technology pundits, gurus and naysayers have debated as to where the real media crown belongs, but in the same breath as I’m not going to start THAT debate around the terminology of ‘transmedia’, I’m also not going to debate whether Bill Gates realized, in 1996 what he was kicking off when he made that speech and made us all hyper-aware of ‘content’.

What I will say, hand on heart, is this… (quote me in years to come and I can be all Bill Gates-esque and blasé about it),

Conversation is Key.

and I’m excited by that, but more about that a little later.

Conversation is what we build communities on, share and exchange knowledge through and define (and redefine) our goals, achievements, ambitions, experiences and points of view.  It’s the stuff that stories are born from and subsequently shared, mashed up, chinese-whispered, retold and born again.

For the last 4 years I’ve been invited to sprinkle some transmedia pixie dust at the Annual Digital Conference element of the London Book Fair and have presented to publishers, agents, authors, publicists and editors about being the gatekeepers of amazing stories, urging them to consider teaming up with other media entities, allowing these storyworlds to flourish, grow and spread beyond the page.  Keeping with the pixie dust theory, I’ve used Peter Pan as a case study – originally written as The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up in 1904, appeared as a play, Peter and Wendy in 1911 and, via cartoons and childrens bedtime stories, was retold from a different perspective in cinemas as Hook in 1991 and then on DVD as Disney’s Return to NeverLand in 2002.

Despite what I’d seen as initial reluctance from publishers to tell stories away from books (and I didn’t count ebooks, they were still text-based on something that resembled a page) – we’re now faced with exciting times as I’ve watched the proverbial (publishing) worm not  just turning – in true convergence style it’s been twisting a positively ‘onwards and upwards’ 360 – and I’ve been introduced to many writers, publishers and once book-centric stories that have truly sprouted digital wings and have integrated (as opposed to bolted-on) music, video, film, gaming elements, as well as seamlessly telling parts of the stories with a finesse that publishing brings.  I’m regularly presented with a wide variety of stories/projects/experiences from both professional entertainment industry contacts and also indies and, for the most part, there is a common denominator – a clear and strong desire for a text-based element to be told as book and to be partnered with a publishing house.

So listen up London Book Fair attendees and join us on this Digital Minds Day.  This expanded digital day takes place, as usual, on the Sunday before LBF, on 15 April 2012, at a new, larger, venue – The Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in Westminster – and has been renamed Digital Minds Conference.

Speakers for this day include:

▪   Andrew Steele, former Saturday Night Live head writer and now founder of Funny or Die, one of the world’s most trafficked websites

▪   Jim Griffen, Managing Director of OneHouse LLC, who is dedicated to the future of music and entertainment delivery. He has been called “one of the sharpest minds in digital music”

▪   Don Katz, founder of Audible, on the future of content business models.

▪   Evan Schnittman, is Managing Director Group Sales and Marketing, Print and Digital, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

▪   Charlie Redmayne, CEO, Pottermore.

So – back to my point on conversation….

storycentralDIGITAL is proud to announce an exciting partnership with London Book Fair for part of the Digital Minds Conference – this years up-close-and-personal Creative Media Convergence Sessions, that, perhaps surprisingly for a ‘digital’ conference, reverse a current online trend.  We’ve gathered together top thinkers, movers and shakers in the cool curve of innovative media thinking to start conversations at LBF, but in real life! (Yes, the non-digital irony isn’t lost on us either, but some things just have to be done face-to-face).

It’s like Twitter – amplified!

These Creative Media Convergence Roundtable Conversations run from 14:10-14:50 and again from 15:05-15:45 and invite delegates to join and leave our conversations as they wish.  It’s like a chat room, but in real life.

Table topics include:

Extending Books for Transmedia, 360  Stories, Developing and Producing a Transmedia Experience, Film & Publishing, TV & Publishing, Creative Partnerships, Legal considerations, Games & Publishing, Innovative Business Models.

And those top thinkers, movers and shakers I mentioned?

Come and talk to Jeff Gomez of Starlight Runner Entertainment, NYC, Julian Friedman of Blake Friedman Literary Agency, Rosie Allimonos of Pixelstories, Eric Huang of Penguin, Ian Ginn of Hubbub Media, Alex Hardy of Harbottle & Lewis, Lorna Evans of TIGA and Mel Norman of Media Sauce.

And, of course, me.  I’m a ‘conversation starter’ too and will be introducing these sessions with a short talk and a little bit of context.  In true Creative Convergence style though, the focus here is on starting conversations and seeing where they flow and what challenges arise, so feel free to come with your questions and debates.

Other speakers at the exciting Digital Minds Day include the fabulous Sara Lloyd, Charlie Redmayne, Michael Tamblyn, Evan Schnittman, Kate Wilson, Ed Victor, Victoria Barnsley and other innovative digital thinkers and doers.

Book your place now!

Join the Conversation.

Communication is Key.

C’mon, pull up a chair.

And if you can’t manage to do that IRL, the LBF twitter hashtag is #digiconf12.

Looking forward to seeing you there – pixie dust included!

Games for Change

Alison Norrington talks about the StoryWorld Conference + G4C discount

The great guys at Games For Change interviewed me for @StoryWorldConf!

Read the full interview here

As more content creators, activists, and story tellers strive to compete for attention, many are experimenting with other media to create broader reach. The need to use “transmedia”, or multi platform story telling, is growing and some exciting developments are happening to meet the demand.

On the forefront of exploring this space is Alison Norrington, an accomplished novelist, playwright, and journalist who is also the founder of storycentralDIGITAL and Conference Chair at the StoryWorld Conference. In an effort to bring together producers, creators, ad agencies, brands, story tellers, tech companies, and more into the fold, we spoke with Alison over email to hear her thoughts on transmedia and where it’s going.

1. In your words what is transmedia?

Over the last 18 months transmedia has been oversold, undersold, sniped at, hyped up and the term itself the focus of excessive debate and passionate opinion. For me, in its simplest form it is an exciting approach toward storytelling that infuses a storyworld with gaming behaviors (which doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a game – just that it’s a FUN experience). To think outside the confines of the traditional boxes that have held ‘stories’ requires vision, strategy and innovation.

Transmedia storytelling is the successful organic flow of narrative over a host of platforms, each one excelling at what it does best. For example, StoryWorld Conference speaker Helen Ross Klein was the voice behind @BettyDraper (a character from the AMC series, ‘Mad Men’). What better place than Twitter for the pouting, sulky, mono-syllabic Betty to have a presence – on a platform that offers musings and statements in only 140 characters.

Betty Draper twitter

2. What makes a good transmedia project?

Here’s where the definitions begin to cause confusion and, possibly some bad press for innovations in storytelling. A good transmedia project should not be focussed primarily on ‘transmedia’ – ‘transmedia’ is an approach toward a story/project and perhaps to begin with an idea for ‘a transmedia project’ suggests that it’s platform-centric, which is a flimsy way to kick-off.

The focus should begin and end with the development and scope for a fabulous, engaging, and robust story. Transmedia isn’t the defining quality but the amplification of amazing stories, so the key touchpoints remain as vital elements – a well considered storyworld with robust 3-dimensional characters and a tight knowledge / awareness of genre and audience behaviors are a solid start. A robust multiplatform storyworld will be so because of a strategic focus on audience / viewer / player / user behaviors at pre-development stage. There are pillars that uphold a strong transmedia property and those that focus on user engagement, immersion, extractability, discoverability, 2-way narratives, amongst other things – are the ones that benefit from the increased scale and scope that multiplatform storytelling can bring.

3. Why is it important to network with the right individuals and teams when creating a transmedia project?

I often liken the complex approach to telling a story over multiple platforms (both on and offline) to spinning plates. There are a host of elements to consider that reach far beyond traditional, linear storytelling. A well compiled, bespoke team can bring their specific skillsets to the transmedia storytelling table – skills that dial in to experience design, user interaction, social media, game-play, narrative design and will also touch on traditional storytelling platforms such as theatre, novels, console games, TV and film.

A great example of the importance of networking with the right individuals is co: – “a story-led innovation collective for the 21st century C-suite“. It’s the innovative brainchild of ex-JWT’s Ty Montague and Rosemarie Ryan which has brought together a network of skillsets to build a bespoke team. Co: collaborators Brian Clark of GMD Studios and Mike Monello of Campfire NYC will both be speaking at StoryWorld on ‘Interactive Storytelling’, ‘Sustaining Discoverability’ and ‘Pitching & Selling Your Idea’.

4. What opportunities exist for those looking to create a transmedia project for social change?

Opportunities for creating transmedia projects for social change are vast, but in order for any multiplatform project to succeed it must be engaging, relevant and genuine. People are used to being ‘sold to’. We live in times where we are bombarded with demands for our attention and charities or media for social change are already becoming diluted in the ‘noise’. I was speaking to transmedia activitst, Lina Srivastava recently, who will be speaking at TEDx Transmedia in Rome (on September 20th) about the ‘space’ between raising awareness and triggering activism. TEDx Transmedia is a one-day event that, this year, is focussing on Socially Responsible Media.

The bottom line is that our social habits have already changed. There’s a quote that jokingly suggests that ‘Facebook is where we lie to our friends and Twitter is where we tell the truth to strangers’ – a fun stab at the way we communicate and present ourselves in social media spaces. Social change per se depends on raising awareness and building that audience to a point where they will ‘lean forward’ and ‘do’ something. Transmedia storytelling has its foundations in 2-way narratives and gaming behaviors – which is exactly what social change demands – a dialogue about the ‘issue’, conversation to raise awareness and then the lean forward moment where passionate advocates get out of their seats and begin to instigate the change that’s needed.

Submarine Channel’s project ‘Collapsus‘ is also an innovative transmedia project that combines animation, interactive fiction and documentary and follows an impending energy crisis. Collapsus was initialized to raise awareness of the global issue of peak oil.

5. What can we expect from the StoryWorld Conference?

StoryWorld Conference won’t offer a standard quick-fix for ways to expand and extend your story over platforms and audiences. It can’t hand you a firm template for a business model that you must build your Intellectual Property on and it certainly won’t bring all of the answers, but it will bring a super-smart collective of people together from TV, publishing, film, theatre, advertising, gaming, social media, and legal to share their case studies and hands-on experiences from practitioners that have earned their stripes. I recently wrote a blog post on ‘Why I Said ‘Yes’ to StoryWorld’ that explains what to expect from this exciting event.

Transmedia MeetUp group members from LA, New York, London, Vancouver, and Toronto are planning to use StoryWorld as the first global Transmedia Meet Up.
In addition to 2 days of a program fit-to-burst with speakers from commercial entertainment corporations and freelance innovative storytellers there is also the StoryWorld unconference – a networking day packed with workshops and discussions. The StoryWorld Speed-Mentoring sessions offer the opportunity for 15 minutes (pre-bookable) 1:1 mentoring with transmedia professionals. The “StoryWorld/storycentralDIGITAL InProduction Showcase” offers YOU the chance to showcase your well-considered multiplatform story on the main stage.

And, of course, with StoryWorld Conference kicking off on Hallowe’en, who knows what else might be at play…..

6. Lastly, I want to know: what do you see for the future of transmedia?

I think that the fizz will go out of the term itself as consumers / viewers / players / audiences begin to expect and seek out surprises and further engagement with their entertainment. I hope that over the next 5 years we will see exciting storyworlds built with spaces that invite audience engagement, collaborative gameplay, and opportunities for fans to immerse themselves and impact on the story.

I suspect that we will begin to see less of a divide between stories that ARE multiplatform and those that aren’t. Audiences are increasingly more connected and will engage with a flow of content that is accessible, immersive, bite sized, on demand, and on the devices that we use day-to-day.

********

Following our interview, Alison was kind enough to offer a discount to Games for Change community members. Register before their early bird deadline of September 16th and save $200 – If you use the discount code “G4CSW11“, you can save an additional $50. Those looking to register can do so on the StoryWorld conference website.

Why I said ‘yes’ to StoryWorld…

I didn’t see it coming – being asked to be Conference Chair for StoryWorld Conference and perhaps that was the best way.  I’d been busy with my PhD studies, writing and developing my own crossplatform/transmedia romantic comedy IP, consulting to some exciting commercial projects, speaking at various conferences about Staying Single (which was my first foray into transmedia – mentored by the amazing Christy Dena) and running development workshops.  Back in January StoryWorld was the essence of an idea, a concept, a thought-provoking proposition but I immediately saw StoryWorld Conference & Expo as an opportunity to bring together theorists with practitioners from both indie spaces and Fortune 500′s.

So now, 8 months later, after a long chain of very late nights in the office, the support of a Conference Council – many of whom have helped shape my MA and PhD studies for over 5 years – along with some new friends who continue to shine a light on the way forward,  a legion of phone calls, Skype chats, email introductions and lengthy explanations of what this is really all about, we’re only weeks away from me standing up in front of a room of 400 people to welcome you to the first StoryWorld Conference. (eeek!)

There is a lot to consider when strategising and developing a transmedia IP and I often liken the approach to spinning plates.  I’ve also discovered that the plate spinning theory extends to conference curation too…

StoryWorld Conference is bringing together writers, designers, filmmakers, producers, techies and digital mavens to make sense of and get a handle on User Experiences, User Interaction, Narrative Design, Monetization, Contracts, Branding, Community Management, Distribution, Analytics, Gaming Behaviors, Licensing and Tech Innovations – all of which, and possibly more – mark the touchpoints of a robust transmedia IP.

To claim this could be the ultimate in face-to-face entertainment convergence might be rather overdramatic, but I believe that it certainly could be the first global meetup of a large community that, in true transmedia style, are passionate about continuing the ‘story’, the sharing and the learning, over a series of platforms – from the fabulous 140 tweets of Gary Hayes, through to the insightful blog postings of Simon Pulman and Laura Fleming to a host of Facebook and LinkedIn groups.

There has been both an infusion of passion and energy around the transmedia, from the buzzword bingo to intense dissemination of the ‘term’ itself.  StoryWorld Conference won’t bring all of the answers, but it will bring a lot of smart people together to try and figure them out using case studies and hands-on experiences from practitioners that have earned their stripes.

Ad agencies are adopting transmedia/crossplatform strategies to build brand loyalty; film directors, publishers and writers are looking to crossplatform to extend their storyworlds over timelines, geographies and platforms.

StoryWorld Conference + Expo gets its name from the idea that the development of a cohesive universe, in which characters and storylines coexist and follow the rules of an established mythology—is at the center of any successful, lucrative, well-crafted transmedia effort.

There are no theorists speaking at StoryWorld.

I’ve done everything I can to remain focussed on amplifying the wisdom of practitioners who will share their real-life experiences.

There are a significant number of practitioners that I would have loved to be speaking at StoryWorld, but unexpected pregnancies (not mine!), changes in job title, vacation plans and workloads have meant that this isn’t THE collective by far.  (I have my sights on you for next year, so you haven’t escaped.. you know who you are…)  However we are proud to have an impressive collective of speakers that have direct practical experience in working on crossplatform properties and will speak from the heart about their lessons learned.

I hope you’ll join us too – to learn the art – and the business of cross-platform entertainment.

See you in San Francisco!

Alison.

Conference Chair

StoryWorld Conference & Expo

Create Your Own Adventure

It’s no secret that the winds of change are blowing in the world of storytelling – StoryWorld Conference and the interest that it’s already garnered from writers, producers and media companies is testimony to that (and the fact that I have been granted a lunch date with the awesome Robert McKee)!  Panels have been popping up at global media events discussing issues such as brand journalism, new advocacies and ‘transmonetisation’ (just a sample from sxsw alone), preceded by companies such as Ernst & Young issuing reports advising on ‘monetizing digital media – and ‘tune in to emerging entertainment markets.  It’s clear that business models are being restructured, writers are looking to rehone their skills and integrated storytelling is stepping into the spotlight.

These are exciting times.

Power to the Pixelwas pivotal in helping me initially shape the focus of the first year of my PhD in 2008 and continues to do so – year after year Liz Rosenthal and Tishna Molla work tirelessly on PttP and their first Cross Media Forum in New York -  on 19 April is loaded with savvy and successful transmedia experts such as Nina Bargiel, Jeff Gomez, Andrea Philips and Lance Weiler .

The Power to the Pixel Think Tank Report 2011 -  – is a must-read, touching on definitions, organic storytelling, connecting with audiences, financiers and new skills and kicks off by stating that the report uses the term ‘cross-media’ rather than ‘transmedia’.  I wrote a post last year called Transmedia, Transmafia – hype and hyperbole or buzz and bullsh*t – in response to a surge in  ‘transmedia WTF’ tweets. I suspected it was in danger of becoming a victim of the potential of its own success because of the buzzwordiness.  Over the last few weeks (possibly mostly after sxsw?) I’ve watched the emergence of antitransmedia hashtags and even more WTF tweets – @stitchmedia created a venn diagram to try and make sense of the arguments and points of view – and Transistoria wrote a blog post to draw some positive comments, linking to #antitransmedia twitter feed – some of which are hilarious (@gmdclark, @mikemonello,@vpisteve!) – ‘quantumtransmedia’, ‘neotransmedia’, ‘deep media’  ;) .

In talking to advocates, practitioners and transmedia/crossmedia producers it seems that ‘the movement’ comes from a ‘those who GET it, don’t use THAT word’ philosophy.  The jury is still out and I’ve just noticed that Julie Stratton has written an informative post collecting varying perspectives on what to call IT.

Personally, I don’t mind what it is called.  I see it as a transitionary term that represents organic storytelling, fragmented over multiple platforms (digital or not) that allow for 2-way narratives, engagement opportunities and levels of immersion.

In a nutshell.

More importantly though, I like that the Pixel Think Tank goes on to recognise that the prefix ‘trans’ or ‘cross’ are used interchangeably and seamlessly amongst advocates without confusion – quibbling over terminology is simply a semantic side issue.

And THAT’s where the importance lies.

Semantic.

Conveys a message.

Is a gesture.

So let’s move on from quibbling over the word.  Who, after all decided that the shake of a hand to say ‘hi’ would be called a ‘wave’ – would there have been campfire debates as to WHY it was called a ‘wave’ rather than a ‘shake’ or a ‘wobble’?  And why has ‘thumbs up’ never been given a name?

Most importantly for me, the Think Tank Report hits onto a new stumbling block for writers (which is nothing to do with ‘traditional’ writers block – that is a drying up of creativity, this is more of a brick wall). It appears under the sub section of ‘rights’ and touches on a significant change that makes transmedia so exciting for writers and producers.  There are a host of elements that determine the success of a cross-media IP and many of them lie at the feet of the writer/producer.  A successful transmedia IP requires a visionary to steward the IP through to completion.  This creator/writer/producer needs to retain control of the IP rights in order to focus on platform strategies, media partnering, distribution and franchising whilst all the time keeping a watchful eye that the mythology of the story isn’t diluted. Telling a story over multiple formats requires a tight control on rights, which presents itself as a challenge to traditional distribution and broadcast structures.  Transmedia production will, in fact, turn acquisition, commissioning and production structures on their heads.  Gone will be the days where writers created stories and sold them in their entirety, probably for single platform production and distribution, but possibly with opportunities for repurposing on alternate mediums.  The producer/creator/writer will now control their IP with a deep-rooted knowledge of the story mythology, the storyworld and integrated opportunities for extension and engagement exploitation.  This puts the creator in a position of being in charge rather than ‘work for hire’ and helps ensure that the IP remains true to the vision of the story rather than being shackled by the distribution and production process.

And herein lies the ‘problem’.

There are few writers/creators/producers that have experience of controlling their own IP.  Traditional business models have pretty much dictated that writers create and produce – up to a point – then hand over (sell!) the work for publishing/broadcast/film to take control of distribution, parcelling up franchising with media partners and rights issues.

As Transmedia Producers writers need to acquire new skills to retain ownership and steward their IP through the entire process, from storyworld building, to production, introductions to potential media partners, rights issues and integrated storytelling as marketing.  As Transmedia Storytellers writers and producers will be taking on roles that have been outside the remit of a writer/storyteller.  I’ve said before that this new breed of consumer/audience/reader requires a new breed of writer and I’m excited by the number of emails and DM’s I get from writers keen to learn these new skills that encompass storyworld building, narrative design, audience interaction and transmedia production skills.  What is also needed though, is some explanation and guidance on retaining ownership of IP, control and franchising of rights and a new business model on which writers can begin to build their creative & business practice.

Bring on StoryWorld Conference & Expo.  It’s one thing to learn narrative design, transmedia strategies, storyworld building and the architecture of a robust and invigorated IP.  It’s yet another thing to learn what to do with all of that once you have it aligned and ready to go.

StoryWorld Conference & Expo 2011

OK, so it’s ALL about story, right?  Without a robust and engaging story that resonates – it all falls flat.

Story is everywhere – ad agencies are using story to sell and build brand loyalty, film directors, publishers, writers,  are looking to transmedia to extend their storyworlds over timelines, geographies and platforms.

Transmedia is great fun – there is no doubt, but the real hard work, the graft, comes long before consideration of platform and transmedia flow.  There is a dual development process when looking to produce a tight and relevant transmedia experience and that begins with your storyworld.  Storyworld architecture and storybibling are SO key, it nearly hurts.

So I am now SO excited to finally let you in on this.

I am delighted to have been appointed as Conference Chair for ‘THE most exciting conference of the decade!!’

StoryWorld Conference & Expo in San Francisco

Shaping the Future of Story Culture & Business in a Transmedia World

Save The Date:

October 31 – November 2, 2011
Parc 55 Wyndham Hotel
Union Square • San Francisco

The hype around transmedia is no secret.

Transmedia development takes a robust intellectual property and organically fragments it across territories, timelines and platforms to reach mass audiences, optimizing the rights holder’s revenue potential.

This is the era of convergence.

Publishers, filmmakers, producers, directors, broadcasters, writers and gamers
are seeing the huge potential that collaboration will bring, but Story is the key, the first base, the hub.  Without invigorating the potential of Story, building a storyworld and storybibling, the power of transmedia begins to dilute.

At StoryWorld Conference + Expo 2011, you’ll meet with professionals from the publishing, film, television, and gaming industries to examine planning, development, production, and execution strategies for storytelling across multiple platforms.

You’ll get feedback on your transmedia plans and connect with potential partners for the creation of content and tools to shape your story business.

As Robert McKee once said, “‘good story’ means something worth telling that the world wants to hear.  Finding this is your lonely task.  It begins with talent.  You must be born with the creative power to put things together in a way no one has ever dreamed.  Then you must bring to the work a vision that’s driven by fresh insights into human nature and society, coupled with an in-depth knowledge of your characters and your world.

And if THAT’s what you’re talking about – you need to be at the very first StoryWorld Conference in San Francisco from 31 October – 2 November.

Visit storyworldconference.com to sign up for updates or don’t hesitate to contact me at storycentralDIGITAL@yahoo.co.uk

More info to follow real soon  ;)

Small, Far Away… storyworlds worth celebrating

I’m in the final stages of building an intensive, interactive workshop on Transmedia Development for Digital Book World…

The workshop is 3 hours long.

And I wish I could spend those whole 3 hours talking about ‘story’ development …  but I can’t because although Transmedia Development includes a huge element of that aspect, there’s also a whole lot that needs to follow on.

Under the workshop heading of ‘Transmedia Development’ perhaps I could solely focus on storyworlds, incubation and the importance of an invigorated fictional landscape – as to truly develop a transmedia IP must begin with the storyworld. The bottom line is that a robust, water-tight storyworld is the backbone to a pleasing, genuine transmedia extension.

I recently watched a documentary about UK Channel 4 sitcom ‘Father Ted‘ – a series that ran for three years and received a cult following as well as critical acclaim, picking up multiple BAFTA awards throughout the 1990′s.  The  show followed the misadventures of three Roman Catholic priests who presided over a parish on the fictional  Craggy Island, located off the west coast of Ireland.  Father Ted Crilly, Father Dougal McGuire and Father Jack Hackett lived together in Craggy Island’s parochial house, along with their housekeeper Mrs Doyle, who often wanted to serve them tea.

In the documentary ‘Small Far Away – The World of Father Ted‘, writers Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews  discussed the initial concept for the series they had intended as a documentary about six Irish characters.  They began with an idea of wanting “the insanity of The Young Ones, the cleverness of BlackAdder and the farce element of Fawlty Towers“, but how they also wanted a place for this farcical insane action to take place.

Craggy Island was born.

They say (at 1:00 of this excerpt)  how they “wanted to create this odd world that was outside of everything” which would give them a free rein.  They also mention that to keep it authentic it “had to be a bit shit“.. ;)   They’d found their storyworld.

I was reading some #transmedia-tagged tweets recently raising the importance that a storyworld should be worthy of adulation and celebration and then I remembered this quote, from Henry Jenkins ‘Convergence Culture’:

“When I first started, you would pitch a story because without a good story you didn’t really have a film.

Later, once sequels started to take-off, you pitched a character because a good character could support multiple stories.

And now, you pitch a world because a world can support multiple characters and multiple stories across multiple media.”

Hollywood scriptwriter, cited by Jenkins in “Convergence Culture” (2008, p116)


Anyone who has heard Jeff Gomez speak on transmedia will be familiar with his term of ‘distant mountains’ – the suggestion and subtle references to wider, more-vast world than is immediately visible in the current context of a storyline or landscape.  This is something that Pixar have managed to do very subtley with many self-referential nods contained within Pixar films and shorts.

None of these specific ‘nods’ seem to have been developed (yet) in their fullest transmedial sense, but have the potential to be extended and built on because they have been weaved in from the beginning:

Pizza Planet

Pizza Planet – the fictional pizza restaurant introduced in Toy Story is a large restaurant with arcade games who runs a fleet of run-down Toyota Hilux pick-up trucks with a rocket on the roof with the Pizza Planet logo.  It has been reported that Pizza Planet is referenced in A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, Cars, Ratatouille, WALL-E, Up and Toy Story 3.  Pizza Planet restaurants at Walt Disney World,  Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disneyland Paris have been named after the site in the film and are designed to resemble it.

Buy n Large (BnL)

Buy n Large is a fictional company that first appeared in WALL-E and also featured in Up and Toy Story 3.

Dinoco

Dinoco is the fictional oil company that appeared in Toy Story as a small gas station and later in Cars and WALL-E.

From a development/acquisition point-of-view, identification and assessment of suitability for a story for transmedia is an essential and time-consuming task and must precede the storytelling.  This early commitment to detail will ensure that the story doesn’t become diluted as it organically flows over platforms.

Transmedia development is really a double-development process – the initial development of the storyworld and then the development of strategy, architecture, design and execution.  It’s a big call and getting it right takes a lot of planning and the ability to see both the big picture and then the many small pictures.  I’ll finish with another Don Draper quote (episode 3, series 2) as Sterling Cooper prepare to pitch a multi-platform campaign to American Airlines, “we got a lot of bricks…. but I don’t know what the building looks like.” As a transmedia producer/writer/developer you need to know that storyworld, your audience and platforms brick-by-brick and at the same time as the fully-furnished, 5-star IP that it deserves to be.

See you at Digital Book World, New York City on Mon 24th January for some more!