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Last five things that brought me closer to transmedia guru Jeff Gomez


The shortest distance between two people is a story

This is part two of a two-part post written by Mitesh Solanki – Click here to read part one. In part one, we looked at the first five things that brought me closer to transmedia guru Jeff Gomez. They are:

  1. Threshold assessment
  2. Story telling with campfires and firewalls
  3. Transmedia is not (common stereotypes)
  4. Transmedia is
  5. The audience

This post explores the ‘last 5 things’:

  1. Success criteria
  2. The grand narrative
  3. A character’s aspirational drivers
  4. Distant mountains
  5. The story canon

(Please note, this post contains excerpts from my notes taken when I attended X Media Labs’ Jeff Gomez Transmedia Masterclass 2011)

6.0 – Success criteria

Take Out: What may seem an obvious list of things to ‘tick off ‘ to ensure a successful transmedia activity, is by no means child’s play to ensure all the elements hum beautifully simultaneously – and therein lies the craft of a genius.

The criteria, or the main 10 attributes to a successful transmedia activity, include:

i. Break or remove the frame

– to exist beyond the screen frame and create the sense that a rich story is constantly continuing beyond the frame

ii. Story arc development

– a story arc will help to effect change by moving a character from one situation to another. There are many ways to develop an arc, for instance an 8-point arc, a 3-arc animation, or a traditional 3-act structure. The point is to have one that starts and ends, unlike stories such as ‘Lost’ that didn’t really have an end point (because the writers were probably paid one episode at a time).

iii. A convincing presentation that takes ‘the world’ and the viewer seriously

– reads as authentic and can stand up to scrutiny of a serious viewer, which means a lot of things including logic across the story (things need to make logical sense). The logic doesn’t have to make sense in the real world of the audience, however if there is new logic that would only exists in the ‘story world’ then it needs a convincing presentation.

iv. Extensions that maintain quality and brand integrity

v. Timeless themes that are simple and artfully presented

– often when there is so much to say, to address every aspect can end up making the overall effort useless

vi. Interwoven-ness

– this is where the content needs to call out to other media areas by using interwoven story-lines that are continually revolving across platforms and product lines

vii. Theme

– the cultivation, validation and celebration of the fan base, and satisfying their needs (as outlined in part 1 of this two part post, under Audience Needs)

viii. Relevance and careful segmentation

– there are cases of transmedia extensions that do not fit with the audience segmentation, like for example if a character is extended out of the frame, then that character extension would need to communicate with the fan base of that specific character, which isn’t always the same fan base as the entire story – think the fan base of Spock versus the fan base of Star Trek, or the fan base of Lenod Nemoy versus the fan base of Spock, or the fan base of one Pokémon character versus the fan base of them all.

ix. Detail matters

– best practise is detail. don’t underestimate the power of evidence (demanding detail), for example some 5 year olds can name all 750 Pokémon.

x. Creative visionary and I.P. stewards


7.0 – The grand narrative

Take Out: The grand narrative should give a sense of what the story universe is all about – it’s not always about the character or actor, but should be about something that is long lasting.

Other tips on grand narrative:

  • Bad forms try to take all the elements and give it to you raw (almost expecting the audience to figure everything out for themselves), where as the good forms will give it to your audience with some connection to the ‘tree-like-base’.
  • It is not always about characters, but it is always about you (audience).
  • If a brand is trying to connect to the grand narrative of a story, then the brand will need to search for its soul and make it recognisable to the audience.
  • The grand narrative is very ‘Joseph Campbell’.

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8.0 – A character’s aspirational drivers

Take Out: A characters aspirational drivers are themes – usually 1 to 2 primary drivers, and 1 to 2 secondary drivers – that connect with the heart of a character (and these drivers must exist in public culture).

I do not feel comfortable to list the entire list of a character’s aspirational drivers – that I was so grateful to learn during Jeff’s masterclass – as these things are one of the more truly unique aspects of his class (you’ll just have to ask Jeff to give you a class). However, to get the point across, I will share just one two examples of a character’s aspirational drivers, they include:

  • Inner Pride (outside average but inside you, is a skill)
  • Silly Outrageous (like a cartoon character)
  • Belonging (like Lady Gaga and unlike Madonna)

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9.0 – Distant mountains

Take Out: A distant mountain is a reference to a thing that you don’t know too much about in the context of the known surrounds. It creates mystery about what is beyond, and it makes the known world feel more real to the audience. You know it’s a crappy story when you can see fake-ness in the surrounds.

Examples of distant mountains include things like the ‘ring’ in ‘Lord of the Rings’, or when you first hear Obi-Wan Kenobi make reference to Luke’s father in Star Wars.

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10.0 – The story canon

Take Out: The canon is the essence – the grand blueprint – of the story’s mythology. The challenge is not to have one, rather how to maintain it with all the other stuff going on. You need to combine all the elements of the story canon so that it is transferable and organically woven in to the iteration of a property (no matter how minor).

Good examples of a story canon are character playing cards that often contain all the stuff that’s needed to summate the canon, like for example: Log Line, Overview of story world, Hero profile, Supporting cast, Bestiary, Locations, Special items, Magic and super science, Archetypes (messages and themes), Chronology and Distant Mountains.

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There you go. 10 amazing attributes that brought me closer to the transmedia guru Jeff Gomez. I look forward to see him when he tours in 2012 (fingers crossed!).

The low down on Jeff’s transmedia credits include: Avatar, Tron, Transformers, Pirates of the Caribbean, Hotwheels and Coca Cola’s The Happiness Factory. Links to: XML Masterclass XML Jeff Gomez Transmedia Master Class 2011, and Jeff’s profile Jeff Gomez CEO Starlight Runner Entertainment.

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First 5 things that brought me closer to transmedia guru Jeff Gomez


The shortest distance between two people is a story

This is a two-part post written by Mitesh Solanki – the last five things (that brought me closer to Jeff Gomez) will feature in part two.

(Image courtesy of Brad Trent, NY)

Not so recently, in August of 2011, I attended X Media Labs’ Jeff Gomez Transmedia Masterclass. Megan Elliot was kind enough to invite me as a guest (thank you Megan!). I think he should tour again next year and I hope this post will help to make that happen.

The low down on Jeff’s transmedia credits include: Avatar, Tron, Transformers, Pirates of the Caribbean, Hotwheels and Coca Cola’s The Happiness Factory. Links to: XML Masterclass XML Jeff Gomez Transmedia Master Class 2011, and Jeff’s profile Jeff Gomez CEO Starlight Runner Entertainment.

I was fortunate to learn from the number one transmedia guru, who begun his class with an ancient proverb – The shortest distance between two people is a story. Key take-outs from the day were underpinned by this notion, and the truth of this proverb rang loud and clear by the day’s end.

The first of its kind in the world, this one-day masterclass promised to deliver practical, how-to, hands-on training to help ramp up your income with transmedia storytelling. The session promised you would learn how to:

  1. Take titles/stories/films/media/brands across multiple platforms
  2. Evolve them into high quality persistent narratives
  3. Which in turn generate multiple revenue streams for you

This promise attracted a few dozen transmedia consultants in Sydney, who were all keen to learn how to crack the IP and revenue issues. The masterclass delivered on this promise (plus more) and I want to share the headlines with you as I am intent to spread the word and help secure a 2012 tour with a larger and wider audience.

However, it is tricky to write this post as I am treading a fine-line: I do not want to give too much away and risk compromising Jeff and XML, yet I think I need to share some of it to give you a taste. So, without giving too much away, I hope Jeff and X Media Labs don’t mind if I share with you, some of the ‘headlines’ from my key take-outs.

The first 5 things that brought me closer to Jeff Gomez, are:

1.0 – Threshold assessment

  • Take Out: Learn how close you are to someone and map out the threshold outline. Then learn how to cross the threshold (with good intentions).
  • Why: Not only can it help to win over a bully (as it did for Jeff), but this assessment can help a brand to get closer to its audience.


2.0 – Story telling with campfires and firewalls

  • Take Out: We all want to be heard. And we all like it when we know that something or someone can hear us. Naturally, when this happens, our mentality says “Let’s all join in”. This then creates a longer lifespan for stories and drives loyalty and engagement.
  • Why: As humans, when we became self aware, we drew on cave walls to express ourselves and tell our story. Then we sat around campfires to tell stories, however in the beginning we were appalling at it (as ‘speaking’ was a relatively new skill). To help us out, the shaman would pull stories from tribe leaders, or from the audience voice, and they would tell our story to us. Nowadays, technology allows us to create our own feedback loop, just like the shaman did in the campfire days when we were learning how to talk.


3.0 – Transmedia is not (common stereotypes)

  • Cross dressing
  • Scavenger hunting
  • Rocket science
  • TV on the internet
  • A game or alternate reality (with points, winners and leader boards)

 

4.0 – Transmedia is

  • Unfolding a narrative
  • Extending the narrative
  • Placing the narrative IP in the middle of all touchpoints
  • Three or more narrative storylines existing within the same fictional universe on any of the given transmedia platforms
  • Appealing to and validating the torchbearers
  • Allowing for co-creation and co-ownership
  • Allowing the audience to make a small phsysic leap between each layer (so the experience feels more like reality than a contrived and fake experience)

 

5.0 – The audience

  • Needs to be cultivated, validated and celebrated
  • Will always have something to say
  • (especially youth) are used to being acknowledged
  • Take everything as fact (especially if growing up with technology)
  • Needs a dialogue
  • Needs a theme


The last 5 things that brought me closer to Jeff Gomez will feature in part two and will include: success criteria, the grand narrative, a character’s aspirational drivers, distant mountains, and the story canon.

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