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TRANSMEDIA: You’re Doing it Wrong!

As we gear up for STORYWORLD QUEST, our members and special guests will be sharing information to get you prepared for the exciting world of new media.

In this article, Scott Westby from Full Swing Productions helps us define the world of Transmedia. Why should you care? According to him, it’s your future!

Transmedia was a big buzzword at the Banff World Media festival this year, and continues to have Producers, Writers, Directors and Marketing teams scratching their heads. You may have heard the word before, or one of its cousins like “multiplatform”, “second-screen”, etc. but it’s all the same thing.

Most think Transmedia is about fun facts popping up on your iPhone while you watch a movie. They’re wrong. If we’re going to play in this new media landscape, we need to start seeing Transmedia as a way to tell an immersive story with multiple access points.

Ok… what does that actually mean?

We’re living in an age of communal content consumption. That means we’re not sitting at home watching movies anymore. We’re going online and participating in a collective experience. Live-tweeting, #GameOfThrones, Reaction Videos. Sound familiar? We’re connected more than ever before, and our audiences are increasingly hungry for content that engages them on multiple levels. Just like their phones, they want to take their stories with them. They want to live the stories, they want to participate.

It’s part of the democratization of content. It’s the new age of entertainment. If you’re a content creator, it’s your future.

Sure, we’re still experimenting. Some are doing it right, but most are doing it wrong. If you’re thinking about creating an iPhone app because there’s government funding for it ( and it could be a great engaging advertisement for your movie/show, you’re doing it wrong.

If you’re doing it to drive eyeballs to your “main project”, you’re doing it wrong.

Transmedia is about telling a story across multiple platforms, not telling the same story on different screens. It’s about creating a dynamic experience for your audience. It’s about providing access points on their phones, their TVs, their Social Media profiles, anywhere they consume content.


Then how do I tell the story I want to tell?

Transmedia will likely disrupt traditional linear narrative structure, but just like when they started moving those newfangled film camera machines around and started cutting shots together, change isn’t always bad. Imagine if each character had a unique story on a different platform, or if each platform was a fresh new way to experience the same story, or if you could converse with the characters on Social Media, not just the creators…

Suddenly Transmedia isn’t this scary Internet abomination; it’s a wonderful, exciting tool at your disposal —a tool no one in the history of storytelling has had before. So stop thinking of Transmedia as a distraction from your story and start thinking of it as a way to add layers, depth and breadth to this world you’ve already created.

Seems like a ton of extra work for little payoff…

It’s absolutely going to be more work (as if you didn’t have enough on your plate already), but the payoff will be anything but little.

Not only is Transmedia a fun new way for an audience to engage with your content, it provides them with multiple opportunities to discover it in the first place. Aaaand (are you paying attention Producers?) it can be a source of additional revenue! Imagine someone rents your show on iTunes, only to discover they can experience the content in a whole new way with the iPhone app! Yay diversification!

Transmedia done wrong is an iPhone app for your project that plays the trailer and some behind-the-scenes footage. Transmedia done right provides your audience with a rich entertainment experience, engaging characters that reach them at different times during their daily lives, in ways they weren’t expecting, and changing the way they feel about consuming content.

So next time you’ve got a project in development, think about organic Transmedia opportunities that will enhance the entertainment experience. Think about ways to add depth to your characters, to deliver backstory, to create side-stories that function like sequels do right now: keeping your audience engaged in your world.

Don’t think that’s the future? It’s already happening. Next week, we’ll discuss some great case studies, do’s and don’ts, and get the ball rolling to help Alberta become a leader in this innovative field.


Scott Westby is a Communications Strategist, a Screenwriter, Filmmaker and member of AMPIA. He is the co-founder of Full Swing Productions in Calgary and currently has a feature in development with the National Screen Institute’s Features First Program.
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