Making transmedia work for indie film

Now that we all know what trans­me­dia is, it’s time to start brain­storm­ing ideas on how the aver­age (and when I say “aver­age,” what I mean is “com­pletely broke”) indie film­maker can incor­po­rate it into a project.

While it’s unlikely that our aver­age Jane pro­ducer can go whole-hog with a com­plete, port­man­teau mul­ti­me­dia extrav­a­ganza, she can still plan for, and incor­po­rate trans­me­dia ele­ments in her prod­uct. In fact, Jane can use multi-platform tech­niques to her advan­tage. Ulti­mately, the ques­tion is: What is the story that Jane’s project is try­ing to tell? From there, it’s sim­ply a ques­tion of what plat­forms are con­ducive to that story, and how she can best lever­age those media to cre­ate inter­est in the whole story.

Transmedia--content development

Let’s say that Jane’s story is about find­ing love at the bus stop. She could host a web forum of ‘missed con­nec­tions,’ let­ting users’ posts become part of her plot, or have a mobile app that guides the user through a map of where impor­tant events in her story hap­pen. Basi­cally, Jane’s imag­i­na­tion is the only lim­it­ing fac­tor, if she plans for her trans­me­dia con­tent before her pri­mary shoot­ing. But how can Jane hope to real­ize these mul­ti­me­dia dreams?

At the low­est bud­get lev­els (which is where most film­mak­ers oper­ate), it’s all about call­ing in favors. Not know­ing how to write a mobile app should be no more daunt­ing to an indie pro­ducer than not know­ing how to do makeup. Espe­cially in Seattle–there are enough coders and web devel­op­ers to go around–surely Jane knows some­one who is will­ing to work for a walk-on role, or credit (port­fo­lio build­ing!), or as a favor to a friend.

What I’m try­ing to get at is that pro­duc­ing trans­me­dia con­tent doesn’t have to be much more com­pli­cated than pro­duc­ing straight film con­tent. And if it’s done right, that lit­tle extra plan­ning and work can effec­tively develop a fan­base even before your first screening.


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