Though I’m far behind on my reading, a few articles have caught my eye this week.
Always one to have smart things to say about the industry, Simon Pulman talks about how to pitch a transmedia project to potential investors, partners, collaborators, and clients. Having gone through the proposal-writing process myself, I can agree that it’s best to tell them what they need to know, put it in a way that they will understand, and leave it at that. If they’re not used to the huge scope of the transmedia industry, it can be easy to scare them off. Show them what you can do, and prove that they can trust you to handle the rest.
The Tools of Change conference took place this week, and though I only followed along on Twitter to some degree, I hear that there was much talk about transmedia. Jeff Gomez moderated one such panel as described in this Publisher’s Weekly article, discussing the potential of publishing in transmedia. “[B]ooks get respect; they’re the crazy grandpa that Hollywood executives keep in the basement. Hollywood was born out of books.”
Silverstring Media was partially founded on that idea, if not with a specific aim at Hollywood. Books are tremendous vehicles for story and, perhaps more to the point, storyworlds.
This article discusses a Russian book (translated into English and available for free–link in the article) that tells the story of the Lord of the Rings (and events beyond) from the point of view of Mordor. It’s a parody at heart, perhaps not following the exact canon set by Tolkien’s epic, but it raised some interesting notes for me regarding transmedia.
The ability to show a story from multiple perspectives (and have it be fundamentally different in each) is one of the (many) things I find intriguing about transmedia potential. Revealing the past or future of a story, or telling the same story from the point of view of another, can greatly enhance the understanding of the original story. What if we got a novel from the point of view of the antagonist? Could we be made to feel differently about the original story? Would it change our understanding?
But furthermore, “The Last Ringbearer” speaks to fanfiction and audience-created content. What if the Tolkien estate not only didn’t litigate, but in fact embraced this story as an alternate view on the epic tale?
If well-written and remaining within canon, I think fanfiction has a huge potential to expand transmedia storyworlds, and canonizing it would be a huge show of faith from the creators to the audience, and a huge reward for those audience members most engaged in your property. Plus, if all goes well, you get expanded content through no extra work of your own.
The only issue you then have to really examine is rights and finances. But that’s a post I’ll leave for another time–perhaps after a lengthy discussion with Scott Walker!