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.

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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.

The Evolution of TV: Is “House of Cards” a TV Show or a Book (What!?!)?

House-of-Cards-PosterAs “TV shows” begin to release via digital distribution models (such as House of Cards), it begs the question, “Are these shows still TV shows?” The phrase “TV show” refers to the medium that the story is being released on  (TV), so can House of Cards be considered a TV show when it’s released digitally? As more and more stories are crafted for digital distribution, can we continue to call them TV shows?

For the purpose of fitting into an existing industry model Netflix would want House of Cards to be called a TV show. In order to be considered for awards such as the Emmy’s, they need to adhere to the old model and call themselves a TV show. But if we are to evolve towards embracing new modes of story telling, can we really continue to call House of Cards a TV show?

“Episodics” and Binge Viewing

It would be more apropos to consider House of Cards an “episodic” than a TV show. Digital episodic storytelling is more like storytelling via books as the story is told in chapters (or episodes), and the viewer can consume one episode at a time or one after another. Continue reading

Monetizing New Hollywood = Audience Satisfaction

imagesHow do you monetize the new Hollywood? I believe there are several answers to this daunting question (depending on IP, existing business models, etc.), but the foundation of where sustainable answers will evolve can be found in building models that are in favor of the audience.

What?! Give the audience power?!

For many who have worked a long time in the entertainment industry, this is an insane idea to wrap their heads around. This industry has spent the last 100 years telling the world what stories to consume and how to consume them. Audiences had no other choice but to accept our models if they wanted to be entertained.

Well, that is not the case anymore. Hollywood no longer owns the marketplace on storytelling Continue reading

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

A Brüno Case Study: The 2009 Audience uprising! (Part 3)

Part 3 – New 21st Century Strategies for SuccessUnknown

Brüno was the first film to be so drastically effected by the power of the audience – who had an opinion, broadcast it and drowned out the marketing messages. This Coup d’état on Hollywood, from audiences over studio giants, has effected how the entertainment industry creates and sells stories. For the industry to survive, it will need to understand, accept and adapt to these changes (see Hollywood and Disruptive Storytelling).

So what exactly does the ‘Bruno’ story teach Hollywood about how to craft an IP in the age of social media? Continue reading

A Brüno Case Study: The 2009 Audience uprising! (Part 2)

Part 2 – The Social Media Revolution

How did Brüno go from being the #1 movie in America to #3 in less than 24 hours?

Many people have tried to explain why Brüno crashed on its opening weekend. Some have blamed the filmmaker and others the marketing campaign. But Universal did their best with a bad movie on their hands. The most important factor effecting the unprecedented decline in ticket sales from that Friday to Saturday night, was the unaccounted for rise of social media. Let’s take a look back at what was occurring in the sociocultural landscape at the time Brüno was releasing.

The Social Media RevolutionFacebook-2011

Back in late 2008/early 2009, while Universal was planning the marketing campaign for Brüno, Facebook and Twitter were exploding and revolutionizing the global social and cultural fabric (the “Year of the Social Network”). Continue reading

A Brüno Case Study: The 2009 Audience uprising! (Part 1)

Part 1 – The Story of Brüno

bruno_posterWith the rise of social media, there has been a dramatic shift in audience behavior and how they gather information and choose which movies to attend. This shift has had a dramatic effect on how we measure a movie’s success (or failure) at the box office, and in the ethos of culture. In the past, opening weekend numbers indicated a film’s success – a testament to the marketing campaign and the studios wisdom in choosing a successful story. Today, social media provides a means for the audience’s voice to grow louder than that of the marketing campaign. Which makes it extremely challenging (if at all possible) to sell a bad movie to the masses.

When did this change? Back in 2009, we saw the shift when Universal’s Brüno hit the marketplace. Let’s break it down and see what happened and what it means for releasing films today. Continue reading