Multiplatform Storytelling: Frontline War Stories
While the academics preach of the wonders and promise and “mechanics” of “transmedia” storytelling, there are pioneering producers on the ground really doing it. There are good days and bad. There is money and there is not. And then there are the fans. What does it take to pull off successful multiplatform storytelling?
We are at the birth of a new industry, an inflection point, much like the history of film or radio or television or even the Internet where technology gives rise to a new means to tell stories. It is a time before the “institutionalization” of the multiplatform industry. And just like the history of film or TV the early pioneers are stepping out now and taking a lot of arrows. They are experimenting, learning what works and establishing best practices. They are master storytellers using and in some cases inventing new tools. They have failed and they have succeeded. And these are their stories.
Brian Seth Hurst is CEO of The Opportunity Management Company, a strategic consultancy driving the next generation of entertainment. Referred to as “the father of cross platform”, Hurst coined the term in 1998 as MD of Convergent Media, Pittard Sullivan, where he launched TV Guide as the first ever cross platform brand, and was on the team that developed the original user experience for TiVo. Hurst's credo “go to where your audience lives” continues to transform the relationship of audiences to storytellers, brands and programming.
TOMC has assisted broadcast clients and content rights holders in extending their programming and building communities on new platforms. In the ever-expanding world of multiplatform storytelling, the company brokers relationships between leading storytellers, technology companies and brands, provides multiplatform strategy and production services, and distribution. Clients have included: Showtime, Lifetime, NCBUniversal, SVT (Swedish Pubic Television), Intel, and AOL as well as successful start-ups McLean Masterworks, Nixle and Paltalk. Hurst is a principal of and strategist on Tim Kring’s multiplatform award winning experience “Conspiracy For Good” for which he created the terms “Social Benefit Storytelling” and “Social Benefit Marketing” to describe this new entertainment genre and the project’s impact. He is currently at work on multiplatform documentary with Bunim/Murray Productions.
Hurst was appointed Global Digital Ambassador for the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in 2009 and is host of the series “StoryCentered” at ITVT.com.
Twitter: @briansethhurst and @storycentered
CEO | EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
Dina Benadon, award-winning producer, is currently serving as Vice Chair of the Producer’s Guild, New Media Council. She is a member of Women in Film, Women in Animation, and has served as Vice President of the Themed Entertainment Association’s Western Division. She brings nearly twenty years experience developing and producing special venue media content as Super 78’s Co-Founder and Executive Producer.
Dina’s production experience spans multiple media formats that include the October 2011 premiere of the Typhoon 360º media-based experience produced by Super 78 for Resorts World Sentosa’s Maritime Museum in Singapore. She oversaw media production for the newly-opened Universal Studios Singapore and Dreamworks’ interactive attraction, Donkey Live! and the media production for the park’s crown-jewel dark ride Madagascar: The Crate Adventure. Super 78 partnered with Nickelodeon and Simex!Iwerks to produce the attraction film, Dora and Diego 4D: Catch That Robot Butterfly which debuted in April 2010. Nominated a third time in 2011 for a Visual Effects Society award for Flight of the Dragon, Dina executive produced the six-minute, aerial-based large format flying film shot on location throughout mainland China. A multiple THEA recipient, Dina’s awards include media development and production for: SeaWorld’s Shamu Believe, Busch Gardens’ 4D Curse of Darkastle: The Ride, Universal’s Revenge of the Mummy, and 2000/2005 World Expos for Hanover and Aichi.
Dina is driven to produce creatively inspiring and technologically challenging visual stories that continue expanding across multiple media platforms.
Dina worked with a number of commercial production studios throughout the 1990s including RSA Films, Propaganda, and Limelight followed by a five-year tenure at Rhythm & Hues/Theme Park division before establishing Super 78.
It was when her father co-founded the LA Weekly and Action Video, one of Hollywood’s first video post-production facilities in the early 80s, that Dina began developing her own aspirations for the entertainment industry. Born
wvand raised in Los Angeles, Dina graduated with a BA in theater from the University of Southern California. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and son Truman.
Jon M. Chu is a feature film director of Touchstone Pictures’ Step Up 2 The Streets (2008), Step Up 3D (2010) and Paramount Picture’s Justin Bieber: Never Say Never (2011). Combining traditional narrative storytelling with the latest film technology, Chu has developed a style that has been described as both innovative and ambitious. Vanity Fair remarked that Chu is “hands down, the world’s pre-eminent living dance-off filmmaker.” Besides his feature films, Chu is active in the online entertainment world. He is the creator and writer of The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers, which is the number one original program for Hulu. The series, shown exclusively online, has been hailed as “groundbreaking” by the New York Times and “by a wide margin, the most beautifully filmed, elaborately staged web series in the history of the medium” in AdvertisingAge. With millions of hits on his YouTube channel and over 400,000 followers on Twitter, Chu’s success in the online space was recognized with the 2011 Digital Pioneer Emmy Award as well as AdAge’s Vanguard Award for outstanding web series. Chu is an alumnus of the University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television. While there, he won the Dore Schary Award presented by the Anti-Defamation League, the Jack Nicholson directing award, and was recognized as an honoree for the IFP/West program Project: Involve. Other honors include an MTV Movie award, a Teen Choice Award, and a speaking invitation to the world renowned TED Conference. Chu is currently in post on his most recent film, G.I. Joe: Retaliation starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Bruce Willis, which will be released in theaters this summer.
Lance Weiler is a storyteller, entrepreneur and thought leader. An alum of the Sundance Screenwriters Lab, Lance is recognized as a pioneer because of the way he mixes storytelling and technology. WIRED magazine named him “One of twenty-five people helping to re-invent entertainment and change the face of Hollywood.” He has successfully self-distributed his films The Last Broadcast and Head Trauma to more than 20 countries while grossing over 5 million dollars in the process. The Last Broadcast which he co-wrote and co-directed became the first film to be distributed digitally to theaters in 1998.
Always interested in experimenting with new ways to tell stories and reach audiences, Lance developed a cinema ARG (alternate reality game) around his second feature Head Trauma. Over 2.5 million people experienced the game via theaters, mobile drive-ins, phones and online. In recognition of these cinematic gaming innovations, BUSINESSWEEK named Lance “One of the 18 Who Changed Hollywood.” Others on the list included Thomas Edison, George Lucas and Steve Jobs.
Lance is recognized as a thought leader in the entertainment space. He sits on two World Economic Forum steering committees. One focused on the Future of Content Creation and the other centered on Digital Governance. At NYU, Lance is part of a think tank on the future of film and he teaches a grad course entitled Building Storyworlds – the art, craft and business of storytelling in the 21st Century at Columbia University.
This past fall, Lance kicked off a participatory storytelling trilogy focused on digital literacy. The first installment of the trilogy entitled, Robot Heart Stories mixed creative writing, math, science and geography to create an experiential learning project between two fifth grade classes of at-risk students. Together the students helped a stranded robot (who they named LAIKA) make her way from Montreal to LA. But the project spread further then the two cities and ignited the imaginations of students, parents and teachers in over 10 countries. Later this year the project will continue as LAIKA visits schools and stays with host families on a journey around the globe. At the end of the year, LAIKA along with the students artwork and stories will be launched into space. One aspiration of the project is when the students look up into the night sky, they’ll be reminded of how far their imaginations can carry them.
Later this Spring at SXSW, Lance will launch the second part of his digital literacy trilogy entitled Wish for the Future. The second installment enables participants to make a wish in a 140 characters or less. Then wishes can be granted with a creative act (story, video, piece of art or song). A number of granted wishes are then prototyped in partnership with the Parsons School of Design and the Makerbot community using 3D printers. In the end wishes and prototypes will be buried and sealed for a 100 years in time capsules designed by well know artists.
Lance is also developing a number of film, TV, and gaming projects with his writing partner Chuck Wendig, who has authored over a 100 books. His next feature film entitled HiM won the Arte France Cinema award at the 2009 edition of CineMart. In 2010 HiM attended the Sundance Screenwriter’s Lab, marking the first time the lab has supported a feature film / transmedia project. The feature film portion of the project is being produced by Ted Hope (21 Grams) and Anne Carey (The American). On a television front, Lance is developing a TV series with Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick. A dark episodic tale that is being developed for a major cable outlet – Lance is a creator, co-writer, and executive producer. Lance is represented by UTA and is a member of the WGA.
Lance is recognized for his ability to use technology creatively to tell stories. In 2010, Lance and his writing partner, Chuck, scripted and provided narrative design for Tommy Pallotta’s (A Scanner Darkly and Waking Life) project entitled Collapsus – an energy risk crisis. Collapsus was recognized as an innovative work of fiction and received an International Emmy® nomination for “digital program fiction.”
In 2011, Lance returned to Sundance with a short film in competition and an immersive storytelling project entitled Pandemic, which was an official selection of the New Frontier section of the festival. Pandemic is a storyworld experience told via film, mobile, online, print, real world events and data visualization as players/viewers work together to stop the spread of a fictional pandemic as it unfolded over a 120 hours. Currently, Lance is working with a number of prominent scientists to explore ways that the next versions of Pandemic can be used to model outbreaks, increase public awareness and provide insight into how things spread socially.
This past January, Lance headed back to Sundance with a National Film Board of Canada project called Bear 71 . He co-created the installation and designed the social narrative for the project. Bear 71 is a heart wrenching interactive documentary about a grizzly bear created using surveillance from wireless trail cams. Told from the age of three when she was captured and tagged up until her death at age 11 when she is struck by a train, the story is a powerful tale about where the wild and wired worlds collide.
In 2006, Lance founded the WorkBook Project an open creative network that has grown to become a thriving international community of filmmakers, musicians, game designers and software developers. In 2007, Lance started a roving gathering for creatives called DIY DAYS. DIY DAYS has traveled to LA, San Francisco, Boston, NYC, and Philadelphia. Later this year DIY DAYS will travel to Europe as the gathering and and its incubator efforts expand. Since 2009, Lance has co-created and produced 42 episodes of a stylized doc series entitled RADAR. The series explores storytelling and creativity in the digital age and was recently nominated for a Streamy Award for best doc series.
Lance often speaks about the changing landscape of entertainment. From the evolution of storytelling to changes in media creation, consumption, distribution and discovery – he has spoken at the World Economic Forum, the Russia Forum, Digimart, Power to the Pixel, MIT, USC, Columbia University, Cannes, and Sundance in addition to large ad agencies, brands, gaming, and media companies. He has been compiling his thoughts and theories into a book entitled “Putting the Mass Back in Media” which he intends to publish as a rich media resource.
In addition Lance often is brought in to design campaigns and storytelling properties for clients such as the Coca Cola company, Ubisoft, CAA, Ogilvy, McCann-Erickson, Dorga5, Summit Entertainment, Ebay, and Hammer Films in addition to large ad agencies, brands, NGOs, studios, gaming companies and publishers.
Since 2007, Lance has sat on the board of the IFP, a national filmmaking organization. He also advises a number of tech companies in the entertainment space and is helping a number of Fortune 50 companies to shape their media offerings for the 21st Century.
Also Lance is a co-founder of a new stealth startup that is working within the social entertainment space set to launch in 2012.
Lance writes a regular column for Filmmaker Magazine on the impact of tech on entertainment. For fun he runs a discovery blog called Text of Light where he posts the random things he
Tracy Fullerton, M.F.A., is an experimental game designer, professor and director of the Game Innovation Lab at the USC School of Cinematic Arts where she holds the Electronic Arts Endowed Chair in Interactive Entertainment. The Game Innovation Lab is a design research center that has produced several influential independent games, including Cloud, flOw, Darfur is Dying, The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom, and The Night Journey -- a collaboration with media artist Bill Viola. Tracy is also the author of “Game Design Workshop: A Playcentric Approach to Creating Innovative Games,” a design textbook in use at game programs worldwide.