Joss Whedon: Reinventing Hollywood by Giving Away Apple TVs

This month’s Story Entrepreneur award goes to Joss Whedon.Unknown-2

And here’s why …

Last month, while Joss Whedon was on set filming The Avengers, his film In Your Eyes debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival where he then announced that the film would be available to rent immediately via the film’s site, powered by Vimeo, for only $5. Not only is that a fabulous digital distribution plan with direct monetization, but what happens next makes this film strategy ground breaking.

Basically, he had an audience strategy!

Screen Shot 2014-06-05 at 1.49.12 PMOnce audiences started renting the movie, Joss and team started sending out thank you gifts! Yes, they sent gifts thanking their audience for watching. And they were not small gifts, they sent Apple TVs, Xbox Ones, Weber grills and cacti! And they sent them to audiences around the world in Germany, Australia and the UK!

This distribution model and reverse crowdsourcing is brilliant, on so many levels! Here’s a few … Continue reading

What is Transmedia? 3 Basics Hollywood And Marketers Need to Know

UnknownTransmedia is being used a lot right now in Hollywood. And yet most people are still perplexed on what transmedia is. So let’s get right to it and review in profoundly simple terms what transmedia is and why the future of “The Biz” is reliant on understanding how to use it effectively, not leave dollars on the table, not miss audience opportunities and to increase profitability and sustainability of the brilliant (and occasionally not so brilliant) brands we create.

1) WHAT IS TRANSMEDIA FROM A STORY TELLER’S PERSPECTIVE?

Transmedia is storytelling across platforms. Basically, it’s providing story experiences across multiple media platforms (not just one), such as film, TV, books, games, consumer products, online, social media, live events AND theme park experiences. It’s more than multi-platform marketing because it’s the story world  and not marketing messages that crosses platforms to engage audiences. Good examples of large transmedia properties are Star Wars, Tron or Avatar. Continue reading

7 Critical Strategies Hollywood Must Learn from the NY Times Innovation Report

Screen Shot 2014-05-30 at 9.46.54 AMThe New York Times innovation report that was leaked earlier this month, is a must read for anyone who works in media. It is indeed one of the key media documents of this age with a lot to teach a struggling Hollywood. The challenges facing the newspaper industry are very similar to those facing Hollywood. Both content creators are struggling to evolve in a changing media landscape and Hollywood would be wise to use the problems and solutions the NY Times innovation report illuminates to guide Hollywood in its evolution into Hollywood 2.0.

If you don’t have time to read the 97 page innovation report, here are the top 7 take aways for Hollywood to know … and start implementing!

images1) Shift Industry Goals, thus Efforts

NY Times: They need less thinking and resources (time and talents) put towards the “front page”, more thinking and resources put towards developing and reaching an online audience. (p. 90)

Hollywood: Less thinking and resources needs to be put towards first weekends, broadcast eyeballs or four quadrants, and more thinking about creating cross-platform, monetizable story experiences for audiences. Basically, by focusing on old goals Hollywood is misusing time and money and missing out on revenue opportunities, thus leaving money on the table. Continue reading

Merging Media 2013 Keynote: Twilight & Building Transmedia Strategies

logoLara Hoefs gave a keynote address at the 2013 Merging Media conference in Vancouver on “Building Transmedia Strategies: Where Storytelling and Marketing Collide.”  In this talk, she presented for the first time the Twilight transmedia case study. Fellow conference keynote speakers were Kathy Franklin (“Avatar”), Gary Hayes (StoryLabs), Steve Peters (No Mimes Media) and Christopher Sandberg (Company p).

 

 

21st Century Story Development: Know Your Audience

Hollywood no longer needs to work so hard to lead audiences to story …

…. Because today audiences can lead Hollywood to future success stories!

k48byeHere in the 21st century, storytellers don’t need to wait for audience testing to see how audiences respond and react to their story. Audiences are connected, vocal and living in digital spaces allowing for storytellers to get to know their audience early and to use this information to help guide the development of story and cross-platform story experiences that resonate and move audiences.

UnknownIn the past, a story was written and produced then handed over to marketing executives to sell the story to audiences. Then they would test the story to find out what audiences are and are not liking, tailor the marketing campaign to highlight what a particular audience will like in hopes of gaining their attention when the story premieres on TV, in theaters, etc.

Today, stories can emerge in development based on knowing the types of stories audiences are already attracted to. Audiences are living digital lives that make their story choices, behaviors and opinions accessible to help guide producers in developing successful stories. There is no reason to wait until after production dollars have been spent because you can check in with audiences early, in development.

What does this mean?

It means that in development, identify the audience you want to reach, get to know them via an audience discovery process that analyzes hard data, psychometrics and social metrics. The insights gleaned from this stage then becomes the compass that guides story development and audience engagement that results in the creation of successful story properties.

It’s working for Netflix. Their original show House of Cards emerged from data that showed Netflix’ customers liked the UK’s House of Cards, Kevin Spacey and binge viewing. Poof! Instant success, achieved in development by using data that showed them who their audience was, how they consume story and what stories they liked.

Another indication that in 21st century storytelling the audience matters and listening to them is critical for success!

 

Story + Identity = Meaning = SUPER Success

UnknownStories help make meaning of life. It’s through stories that we come to understand social and cultural life, and who we are.  We are attracted to stories of celebrities and public figures, stories about our favorite TV characters or stories of our friends, because every narrative moment is a reflection of people and life that helps us further understand, craft and tell our own stories. This process of self and meaning making drives our passions and brings purpose to our lives.

superman-record2

Large group of people dressed as Superman.

Understanding the powerful role of identity and culture formation in the consumption of story is crucial to creating successful story and story experiences in the 21st century. “Selling” story is no longer about making first weekends, it’s about telling meaningful stories and creating engaging story experiences that resonate (click here to see what happened to the film Bruno.)

Stories will thrive if the narrative experience is rich with meaning that moves audiences. When we move audiences we create further engagement and growth of an IP (intellectual property). To grow, story properties must be relatable and provide audiences with a reflection of their own selves, or at least a reflection to stoke their current understanding of self. It is here that story engagement, evangelism and commitment thrives, and thus your story IP.

The most successful stories today and in the future will be those that engage audiences at the level of human, inspiring them to embrace, resonate and celebrate their humanity, thus allowing them to find deeper meaning as they craft their own stories.

Death of Hollywood? Or Dawn of a New Hollywood?

“There’s eventually going to be an implosion — or a big meltdown.”
– Steven Spielberg on the film industry, June 2013
Photo by Hameed.Deviantart.com

Photo by Hameed.Deviantart.com

Hollywood filmmakers are waking up and speaking up. Recently we’ve heard passionate speeches from Steven SoderberghSteven SpielbergGeorge Lucas proclaiming the tides of change in Hollywood, their frustration as storytellers and their fear for the future. Gentleman, do not despair. The battles you face seem hopeless, and yet I’m here to tell you that what is transpiring is actually good news for storytellers like yourselves.

Here’s the deal, the media landscape has changed. Audiences have changed. Studios are afraid.

They are digging in their heels to keep status quo on an old system that does not exist anymore and studio execs are reacting by making decisions that affect you and the stories you want to tell. Again, do not despair because what the studios are slow to accept is that the new media system  Continue reading