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!

 

21st Century Entertainment Strategies: Re-thinking The Biz

Unknown-3The entertainment industry was built on a media system that no longer exists. The media system that has emerged is embodied with new innovations, multiple platforms for exploring the art of storytelling and opportunities for audiences to participate and engage with story like never before.

Every time a new innovation hits the marketplace, it upsets the existing system meaning that the media system will be ever-evolving (see Disruptive Storytelling). The days of a media system that remains the same for 100 years have come to an end. This means that in the entertainment industry, change is the new normal and constant evolution a necessity.

Despite this evolutionary shift, the struggling industry continues to rely on entertainment strategies built on a system of the past that has changed and will continue to change. It’s time for new, evolved strategies to lead the way toward transforming the art and business of storytelling back into a robust industry.

What are the key principles of 21st century entertainment strategies?

  • Creating meaningful, engaging story experiences.
  • Using new technology to innovate the art of storytelling.
  • Collaboration between storytellers and marketers.
  • Innovative budgeting and distribution models.
  • Inviting audiences to actively participant in story.

It’s a tall order, indeed. Though those story visionaries (see Story Entrepreneurs) who are willing to take risks, evolve and embrace new strategies, will be the ones that lead this industry into a new age of brilliance.

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

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

YouTube’s Gamble with Subscriptions: Today’s new Tomorrow

YouTube-logoToday YouTube officially announced the roll out of paid subscriptions to their videos. This is a BIG StoryDisruptive moment. YouTube has taken a risk on a monetization model they think will be most successful on their site. And this changes the digital distribution of content by creating a monetization model available to any content creator – from studios to grassroot creatives. Continue reading