Feb 22, 2010

The Importance of Content in Transmedia Storytelling

Transmedia storytelling, the ability of creative intellectual content to move through different forms of media.Intellectual creative content is usually created by one form of the creative industries, which then flows through other creative industries. The creative industries make up a large percentage of the job force, which includes advertising, interactive leisure software, architecture, music, arts and antique markets, television and radio, crafts, performing arts, design, publishing, designer fashion, software and film. Without creative industries their would be no way of formally managing and organizing creative content. That leads to discussing the current trends in transmedia storytelling in the Film and Television creative industry.

The most traditional form of storytelling within the film and television industry has been and still is narrative. The first step in creating content is developing a script, which is entirely narrative. The most used structure in screenplay narrative is Aristotle's three Act; most recently it has been Joseph Campbell's The Hero's Journey, used in Star Wars. Some television series, mostly dramas, tend to gravitate towards the hero's journey to appeal to a cult following that Star Wars created in the 1980's. Some popular television programs using this structure would be Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1997) and Lost(2004). Of course one is dealing with episodic, rather than the beginning, middle and end for film. This is the reason why Aristotle's structure is not used as much in contemporary commercial filmmaking because it does not follow over into other medias so easily. " Their capture is the visual equivalent of what Hayden White calls a chronicle: a chronological list of events that presents neither the closure nor the causality nor the organization of a plot"(p.353, Narrative Across Media). Look at it this way, is it easier to stream an episode of a television series on the Internet or a two hour film?

The film industry has focused on this issue and responded by creating more universally accepted narrative structures. Variety published an article stating that studios and writers use the bible as a source for structuring new ideas for films. " People are realizing that this kind of concentration implementation is one of the most powerful ways to convey messages."(Variety) This has helped shape how studios produce their content. For example, Starlight Runner Entertainment production company now contributes their skills in marketing before the production has ended.This way of content producing allows for more content to flow more freely amongst creative industries, creating more bankable content. This appeals to the more industrial organisational side of creative industries, which is the management of risk and uncertainty in such a subjective market.

Not only has the transmedia of television caused the film industry to appose the 3 Act structure, but the audience has also forced Hollywood to reconsider its storytelling content. This being that audiences now use computers, an interactive technology to submerse themselves into multiple mediums of creative content. The most popular interactive site being youtube, where individuals can create their own content and socially network at the same time. An older interactive media is video games, which is a creative industry constantly becoming more innovative with their transmedia storytelling abilities. A few successful films based on popular video game have been adapted for audiences. This leads the film and television industry to create more user generated or user-led content. The creation of user-led content is a  phenomenon referred to as 'democratisation of innovation,' or 'remedition', " the formal logic by which new media refashion prior media forms" (p.31, Narrative Across Media).

A new genre of film has been created in response to the 'democratisation of innovation,' called pseudorealism. Pseudorealism contains elements of fake reality, forcing the audiences to distinguish between what is real and what is not. The genre was first introduced in the nineties when The Blair Witch Project was released, but has not taken off as a genre until recently. Before the film opened in theatres, pseudomentary media forms were posted on the web that revealed the film's narrative: " that engage that sense that while information wanted to be free, it didn't seems to have any corollary imperative to be accurate" (p.383, Narrative Across Media). Recent successful pseudorealistic films include, Cloverfield(2008) and Paranormal Activity(2009), each loved by audiences because of the interactive characters and documentary style. Distributors and advertisers were in the past unable to find a way to market The Blair Witch Project and what Paranormal Activity was able to do successfully was sell the film by featuring trailers showing the reaction of audiences rather than the content itself.  So if Hollywood wants to produce more bankable product it needs to create more transmedia storytelling elements such as,  interaction in pseudorealism film and a universal structure.


Ryan, M. Narrative across media: the languages of storytelling. Lincoln: University of             Nebraska Press; 2004.

Caranicas, P. Transmedia storytelling is future of biz: studies create mythologies, multi- media worlds. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118005442.html?categoryid=138cs=1. Accessed February 20, 2010.

Wong, J. What’s the future of interactive cinema? http://se7enmagazine.com/film/50-            global/169-whats-the-future-of-interactive-cinema.html. Accessed February 20,2010.

Fleming,Mike. Imagine’s “Transmedia Storytelling” Deal. http://www.deadline.com/Hollywood    /imagine-does -transmedia-storytelling-deal/.Accessed February 20,2010. 





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