Transmedia and the Art of Storytelling, Part II: Marketing a Personal Experience

By Shea Lord | Tags: ,
November 22nd, 2011

Transmedia and the Art of Storytelling, Part II: Marketing a Personal Experience

By Shea Lord | Tags: ,
November 22nd, 2011

Panel: Transmedia StorytellingPanelist Zach Lieberman (far right) wrote a real-time, interactive subway murder mystery that would take place in New York. A series of curious events would tell a story culminating in the release of a blu-ray, which he would also film. The project was actually green-lit by Warner Brothers, But Lieberman unfortunately ended up having to pull out of the studio. He is still working on the project and hopes it will find its way eventually. What is interesting here is what he referred to as dimensionalization of a story, which is essentially what transmedia is, but to a deeper extent. Each piece of a story in a transmedia production needs to be able to stand alone as one experience. The fans choose their level of involvement. Lieberman’s project could be experienced solely as a location based event (LBE) or solely through the movie; but fans who wanted to go deeper into the story would have to choose to do so.

Different tools have different limitations. Whichever platform is used to tell a story therefore binds the story into its own restrictions technologically or narratively. Lieberman urged us to, “find the lens on your situation.” Transmedia has to be unique to work because every story really calls to be told in its own way. Companies are starting to catch on, kind of. They can see the huge success of projects like Angry Birds Live or Why So Serious? Then they call up people like Evan Schectman at Radical Media and say, “I want that,” but they’re obviously missing the (amazing) point.

Why should transmedia be utilized? When the tools are there (which they most certainly are) and the audience is there (sometimes this must be built) opportunity is created, and only transmedia takes full advantage of the situation. It allows storytellers to not only provide engagement, but a personal experience.

We are no longer marketing products— it simply doesn’t do any good. Consumers have vast resources (uh, Google.com?) that they use to determine if a product meets their standard of quality for the price. So what the purpose of the ever-growing advertising business? Schectman put it perfectly: “We are marketing awareness.” If people don’t know about the product, it might as well be a mall in the middle of the Nevada desert (with the exception of the annual Burning Man festival).

The fact is, no one is a transmedia expert at this time (hell, the word doesn’t even have a set definition yet!) Everyone is currently working on the Quantity Theory: if you just keep producing, eventually you’re bound to have a success. “Prototype. Ship. Repeat.” Schectman, in his final words of wisdom for the day, encouraged everyone to, “Be a student of it.” Essentially, learn your shit and have an opinion! Preferably your own opinion, but really just so long as you can present someone’s point of view, you can learn more— and we learn the most when we fail. So, fail harder.

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