A lot is being made these days about transmedia, and how that is the way the film industry is and should be going. And there are a lot of debates as to how to best engage your audience – which, in an era where there are so many choices and mediums is the whole point of transmedia. To create something that audiences can access across multiple mediums/platforms.
Easily the best example of a project that used this idea of transmedia to catapult it into a franchise, a universe, of its own is Star Wars. There are dozens of novels written in that world. Six feature films. Television specials. A Clone Wars animated show. Numerous comic books. Multiple video games. All telling different stories, or adding to existing stories.
Filmmakers today, and ‘consultants’, are all about figuring out this transmedia approach before a project even goes into production. With Star Wars, while Lucas may have had all of this in his head 30 years ago – he had to hook his audience with that first story. And I think this is what a lot of these people are failing to realize. If you can’t one good story, how do you expect to capture an audience for a multitude of mediocre stories? Just because there are more of them doesn’t mean they are better. Or more accessible. Everything today is easily accessible. You need to stand out. And that always begins with the story.
It is all well and grand to push your project, and the universe of your project, on multiple platforms. It is definitely the way the industry should be thinking. You need to engage your audience. But you can’t engage an audience that is not there… and you get an audience by first and foremost telling a good story.
It’s hard enough to tell one good story – as you can see by looking at all of the films that were made in a year and their box office grosses (thousands of them if you include indies). Telling that story well over a variety of mediums? Not that is the challenge.