If you’ve never heard the term “transmedia” before, you’re not alone. There are still quite a few people in the film industry that haven’t heard of it either. Transmedia storytelling is more than just telling a story on various media platforms. It’s about telling the elements of a story across various media platforms with each of them making a contribution to the whole. So, for instance, a graphic novel can be used to tell back-story, a video game can be used to explore the story world, and a website can give you more information about a particular character. With the advent of new digital platforms such as smart phones and tablets, there are even more ways of telling a story than ever before.
Not all stories lend themselves to transmedia storytelling, but at a time when pirating and inexpensive viewing platforms such as Netflix (even with the recent price increase) and Redbox are eating more and more into profits, producers are looking for alternatives to make their projects profitable. The big studios are concerned about this problem, but for independent producers the problem is even more serious because it can mean the difference between staying and going out of business. We simply don’t have the cushion that the big guys have. So, for me, transmedia storytelling is not only a creative decision, it’s, also, a financial one.
As a fan turned producer, I’m excited about the prospect of reuniting the cast of The Invisible Man. I’m a huge fan of the show and the cast; and even though I’m disappointed that I couldn’t get the rights to the show, I’m still very excited to bring the cast together again and show off that great chemistry that we all know they have. But I’m hoping that this movie won’t be just a one-shot deal for this cast. As long as they are willing, I want to see them do multiple movies. Or maybe a TV or web series.
But in order for that to happen I have to do everything in my power to make this project profitable (or at the very least make its money back). If the first movie flops, it’s highly unlikely that any investors are going to want to fund future projects with this cast. But if my investors are making money, then it’s more likely that they’ll want to fund future projects. How cool would that be?
While a big part of my decision to do a transmedia project is financially motivated, it’s, also, a great way to tell a story. I recently finished writing the first draft of a new concept section of the story bible. It’s a known concept that I haven’t seen anyone else use in quite the same way as I am, similar to how I-Man took a known concept—invisibility—and used it in a way that we had never seen before. The back-story and mythology of my story is so big that it easily lends itself to being a transmedia project.
As I’m writing the story bible, I’m having to think not only of the feature film, but how everything fits together in the bigger story world, which include both past and future stories. It’s fun, but it, also, makes the project more challenging to write because it all has to fit together and make sense…well, as much sense as a story that is science fiction can make.
The center of the story is, of course, the movie featuring the I-Man cast. In addition to that I’m considering doing prequel webisodes that delve into the history of the story world. Depending on how fundraising goes, I may end up having to do some webisodes or perhaps a scene or two from the movie first to help build up the audience to a level that justifies my budget.
Wait a minute, didn’t The Invisible Man have a worldwide audience of millions? Yes, it did—approximately ten million from what I’ve heard. The challenge is, however, in reaching all those people and letting them know what I’m working on. Will all those people who watched I-Man want to watch this movie? Hopefully they will, but some might not be interested in it because it’s not I-Man. Although, I do hope they will give it a chance because, after all, I am developing this story with I-Man fans in mind. So I may have to do the work it takes to find the audience first before we can shoot the movie; unless, of course, I get lucky and find the money right away. I’ll just have to see what happens and make adjustments to my plans accordingly.
In addition to webisodes, I want to, at the minimum, create a video game, a graphic novel, and several websites to enhance the story experience. Some other transmedia platforms I’m considering are apps for smart phones and tablets, books, comic books, and blogs, etc. And, of course, I want to do merchandising.
It’s lot to think about, but right now when I’m in the story development stage is the time to think about and plan for such things. If there is anything you would like to see developed for this project, let me know. I’ll consider all suggestions!