November 12, 2007
Looking back at FoE: Transmedia Properties

The final panel on Friday of last year's Futures of Entertainment focused on transmedia properties, in what is a precursor to a couple of the discussions taking place this year, perhaps most notably the conversation on cult media properties, which might be particularly ripe for transmedia storytelling.

The audio from this panel is available here, and the video is available here.

For those who haven't seen it, our panel on cult media this year will feature a variety of people steeped in knowledge of transmedia storytelling: Danny Bilson, who has written for a variety of media platforms; Jeff Gomez of Starlight Runner; Gordon Tichell with Walden Media; and Jesse Alexander with Heroes.

The description reads:

Cult properties have become mass entertainment. Marvel's success bringing comic book characters to the big screen and the resurgence of the space opera suggest niche properties may no longer mean marginalized audience appeal. This panel explores the politics, pitfalls, and potentials of exploiting niches and mainstreaming once marginalized properties. How do you stay true to the few but build properties attractive to the many? What role do fans play in developing cult properties for success? Is it profitable to build a franchise on the intense interest of the few and relyi on Long Tail economics? Are smaller audiences viable in the short term, or do we need to rethink the length of time for a reasonable return?

Last year's discussion featured DC Comics' Paul Levitz, Big Spaceship's Mike Lebowitz, and Alex Chisholm of Ice Cub3d Studios. Alex, who is a consulting researcher with the Consortium, will be joining us again this year as an attendee of the conference.

We live-blogged last year's transmedia properties panel at the C3 blog here.

Discussion focused on the relationship between comic books and transmedia, transmedia in other genres, creating narratives universes, authenticity, and a variety of other issues. We wrote:

Alex discussed his work on Heroes and concludes that Heroes "gets it," particularly in their creation of a digital comic book that reinforces the stories in the TV show without overlapping them. It becomes an interesting part of the narrative world, and he says that he is very lucky that working with that particular NBC show was where his firm ended up. Paul began talking about how, often, the popularity of a super hero in a particular genre has peaked at different times, so that Superman may be popular on television at a time when he is not on film, etc. [ . . . ] Michael said that he feels that transmedia stories have become more possible as fan culture has become more mainstream. "It's chicken and egg as to where one begins and the other ends, but what the boom of the Internet achieved was the explosion of niches and niches becoming mainstream in a sense. The common identity of the comic book fan, the misconception in my view, is breaking down to a certain extent, just as people are realizing that video games are played by people other than 17-year-old boys."