February 10, 2008
Around the Consortium: FoE2, Firebrand, Bollywood, and Jason Mittell

I wanted to finish off the weekend by pointing out a few interesting pieces of writing taking place around the Consortium recently.

First, I wanted to direct everyone's attention to this recap of the Futures of Entertainment 2 conference from C3 partner MTV Networks' Greg Weinstein, appearing on the FanTrust site.

Weinstein writes:

Jeff Gomez, in one of the most thought provoking statements of the afternoon, asserted that next generation story telling will harness the energy of fan participation and feed it back into the eco-system. Fans will become part of the story and their participation will be rewarded by moving them closer to the center of the action. The result will be more dynamic and engaging entertainment than anything we've seen from mass media to date.

The experts on the "Cult Media" panel expressed a wide array of opinions on trans-media story telling. Yet they all agreed upon one thing: for trans-media to be successful, the core property must be treated with a deep level of passion, integrity and respect. Fans will accept nothing less.

Meanwhile, C3 Alum Ilya Vedrashko had a post that caught my eye this weekend about the ION television show Firebrand, which consists an hour of "entertaining and non-intrusive" commercials each episode. Ilya looks at comments on viewership from the company compared to Nielsen numbers. Check out his post here.

Also, C3 Alum Geoffrey Long forwarded several of us an email recently about Crate & Barrel's new advertising campaign making claims for a Bollywood theme. Consulting Researcher Aswin Punathambekar ended up putting up a short post about it, complete with visuals.

Finally, C3 Consulting Researcher Jason Mittell was featured in a story for The Rutland Herald in Rutland, Vermont. The story, by Susan Youngwood, is available here, focusing on MIttell's work on television.

Says the story:

Mittell is in the forefront of a new brand of television studies, one that does not focus on the social impact of the boob tube. Instead, he looks at the medium's narrative form, and has pinpointed a new mode of entertainment television that he says is distinctive for what he labels "narrative complexity." Shows like "Lost," "The West Wing" and "The Sopranos" are prime examples of this new format.

What makes these shows different? Each episode does not stand alone; instead multiple storylines flow through several episodes and seasons. Like a novel, these series have a plotline that takes a whole season - or series - to reveal (boxed DVD sets can have the same narrative cohesion as a novel). There is an emphasis on both character and plot development, and on maintaining continuity throughout the show's lifespan.

Writers are increasingly experimenting with unconventional storytelling strategies, or so-called narrative special effects - such as genre mixing, shifts in perspective, flashbacks, dream or fantasy sequences, plot twists. Viewers are as invested in how the creator tells the story as what the story is, Mittell said. And they get a nice cognitive workout, challenged by these strategies to figure out what is happening.