Sometimes it’s easy, sometime’s its hard.
We’ve had ongoing success in building a community around the Future of Entertainment Consortium’s west coast event, Transmedia Hollywood, which is jointly produced each year through a collaboration between University of Southern California and University of California-Los Angeles (or as they would put it, University of California-Los Angeles and University of Southern California). But, this year’s conference seemed to be under some kind of black cloud. We never have had so much difficulty lining up speakers, so much last minute shuffling of presenters. On top of that, the event will be known as the year without Henry, since I ended up in the hospital on the eve of the event, ended up missing most of the day as I fought my way through the bureaucracy to get released. And, then, we faced epic delays getting the videos out to the world.
Well, the videos are finally here and, despite the struggles, we are still very proud of what we were able to produce — the speakers are, as always, lively and thought provoking, a rich mix of academics and folks from many different sectors of the entertainment industry, and the content remains timely, capturing some of the key transitions shaping the entertainment industry today and bringing an ever stronger transnational focus to the mix, as we are connecting more and more with folks creating transmedia content around the world.
With the growth of transmedia and creative industries/production studies focused classes at universities around the world, we hope these videos will prove to be important resources for use in the classroom or to assist researchers who would not otherwise have access to insider perspectives within the media industries.
Above all, enjoy! And if you find something interesting, help us spread the word.
Transmedia Hollywood 3: Rethinking Creative Relations
As transmedia models become more central to the ways that the entertainment industry operates, the result has been some dramatic shifts within production culture, shifts in the ways labor gets organized, in how productions get financed and distributed, in the relations between media industries, and in the locations from which creative decisions are being made.
This year’s Transmedia, Hollywood examines the ways that transmedia approaches are forcing the media industry to reconsider old production logics and practices, paving the way for new kinds of creative output. Our hope is to capture these transitions by bringing together established players from mainstream media industries and independent producers trying new routes to the market. We also hope to bring a global perspective to the conversation, looking closely at the ways transmedia operates in a range of different creative economies and how these different imperatives result in different understandings of what transmedia can contribute to the storytelling process – for traditional Hollywood, the global media industries, and for all the independent media-makers who are taking up the challenge to reinvent traditional media-making for a “connected” audience of collaborators.
Many of Hollywood’s entrenched business and creative practices remain deeply mired in the past, weighed down by rigid hierarchies, interlocking bureaucracies, and institutionalized gatekeepers (e.g. the corporate executives, agents, managers, and lawyers). In this volatile moment of crisis and opportunity, as Hollywood shifts from an analog to a digital industry, one which embraces collaboration, collectivity, and compelling uses of social media, a number of powerful independent voices have emerged. These include high-profile transmedia production companies such as Jeff Gomez’s Starlight Runner Entertainment as well as less well-funded and well-staffed solo artists who are coming together virtually from various locations across the globe. What these top-down and bottom-up developments have in common is a desire to buck tradition and to help invent the future of entertainment. One of the issues we hope to address today is the social, cultural, and industrial impact of these new forms of international collaboration and mixtures of old and new work cultures.
Another topic is the future of independent film. Will creative commons replace copyright? Will crowdsourcing replace the antiquated foreign sales model? Will the guilds be able to protect the rights of digital laborers who work for peanuts? What about audiences who work for free? Given that most people today spend the bulk of their leisure time online, why aren’t independent artists going online and connecting with their community before committing their hard-earned dollars on a speculative project designed for the smallest group of people imaginable – those that frequent art-house theaters?
Fearing obsolescence in the near future, many of Hollywood’s traditional studios and networks are looking increasingly to outsiders – often from Silicon Valley or Madison Avenue – to teach these old dogs some new tricks. Many current studio and network executives are overseeing in-house agencies, whose names – Sony Interactive Imageworks, NBC Digital, and Disney Interactive Media Group – are meant to describe their cutting-edge activities and differentiate themselves from Hollywood’s old guard.
Creating media in the digital age is “nice work if you can get it,” according to labor scholar Andrew Ross in a recent book of the same name. Frequently situated in park-like “campuses,” many of these new, experimental companies and divisions are hiring large numbers of next generation workers, offering them attractive amenities ranging from coffee bars to well-prepared organic food to basketball courts. However, even though these perks help to humanize the workplace, several labor scholars (e.g. Andrew Ross, Mark Deuze, Rosalind Gill) see them as glittering distractions, obscuring a looming problem on the horizon – a new workforce of “temps, freelancers, adjuncts, and migrants.”
While the analog model still dominates in Hollywood, the digital hand-writing is on the wall; therefore, the labor guilds, lawyers, and agent/managers must intervene to find ways to restore the eroding power/leverage of creators. In addition, shouldn’t the guilds be mindful of the new generation of digital laborers working inside these in-house agencies? What about the creative talent that emerges from Madison Avenue ad agencies like Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, makers of the Asylum 626 first-person horror experience for Doritos; or Grey’s Advertising, makers of the Behind the Still collective campaign for Canon? Google has not only put the networks’ 30-second ad to shame using Adword, but its Creative Labs has taken marketing to new aesthetic heights with its breathtaking Johnny Cash [collective] Project. Furthermore, Google’s evocative Parisian Love campaign reminds us just how intimately intertwined our real and virtual lives have become.
Shouldn’t Hollywood take note that many of its most powerful writers, directors, and producers are starting to embrace transmedia in direct and meaningful ways by inviting artists from the worlds of comic books, gaming, and web design to collaborate? These collaborations enhance the storytelling and aesthetic worlds tenfold, enriching “worlds” as diverse as The Dark Knight, The Avengers, and cable’s The Walking Dead. Hopefully, this conference will leave all of us with a broader understanding of what it means to be a media maker today – by revealing new and expansive ways for artists to collaborate with Hollywood media managers, audiences, advertisers, members of the tech culture, and with one another.
Once the dominant player in the content industry, Hollywood today is having to look as far away as Silicon Valley and Madison Avenue for collaborators in the 2.0 space.
Moderator: Denise Mann, UCLA
Nick Childs, Executive Creative Director, Fleishman Hillard
Jennifer Holt, co-Director, Media Industries Project, UCSB
Lee Hunter, Global Head of Marketing, YouTube
Jordan Levin, CEO, Generate
In countries with strong state support for media production, alternative forms of transmedia are taking shape. How has transmedia fit within the effort of nation-states to promote and expand their creative economies?
Moderator: Laurie Baird, Strategic Consultant – Media and Entertainment at Georgia Tech Institute for People and Technology.
Jesse Albert, Producer & Consultant in Film, Television, Digital Media, Live Events & Branded Content
Morgan Bouchet, Vice-President, Transmedia and Social Media, Content Division, Orange
Christy Dena, Director, Universe Creation 101
Sara DIamond, President, Ontario College of Art and Design University
Mauricio Mota, Chief Storytelling Officer, Co-founder of The Alchemists
A new generation of media makers are taking art out of the rarefied world of crumbling art-house theaters, museums, and galleries and putting it back in the hands of the masses, creating immersive, interactive, and collaborative works of transmedia entertainment, made for and by the people who enjoy it most.
Moderator: Denise Mann, UCLA.
Tara Tiger Brown, Freelance Interactive Producer/Product Manager
Mike Farah, President of Production, Funny Or DIe
Ted Hope, Producer/Partner/Founder, Double Hope Films
Sheila C. Murphy, Associate Professor, University of Michigan
By many accounts, the comics industry is failing. Yet, comics have never played a more central role in the entertainment industry, seeding more and more film and television franchises. What advantages does audience-tested content bring to other media? What do the producers owe to those die-hard fans as they translate comic book mythology to screen? And why have so many TV series expanded their narrative through graphic novels in recent years?
Moderator: Geoffrey Long, Lead Narrative Producer for the Narrative Design Team at Microsoft Studios.
Katherine Keller, Culture Vultures Editrix at Sequential Tart
Joe LeFavi, Quixotic Transmedia
Mike Richardson, President, Dark Horse Comics
Mark Verheiden, Writer (Falling Skies, Heroes)
Mary Vogt, Costume Designer (Rise Of The Silver Surfer, Men In Black)
For those of you who live on the East Coast, here’s the latest news from Sam Ford, who is hard at work planning the next Futures of Entertainment conference:
We have just announced that FoE6 will be Friday, Nov. 9, and Saturday, Nov. 10, in the Wong Auditorium at MIT. Panels will tackle subjects such as the the ethics and politics of curation, corporate listening and empathy, “the shiny new object syndrome,” new distribution models in a digital age, and rethinking copyright. We will also look specifically at innovations in storytelling and sports, in video games, in public media, and in civic media.
Information on the tentative schedule, as well as registration, is available here.