Sunday, April 26, 2015

How to Emotionally Manipulate Your Fans 101: Transmedia Storytelling

The internet and social media is drastically changing how we view, create, interact, and discuss art and story. Television networks and Hollywood studios no longer monopolize entertainment because there is now infinite ways to create and distribute art. From web series to published fan fiction, the age of the internet is redefining how we see entertainment. Transmedia storytelling and fan interaction didn't necessarily start with the internet, it just became incredibly popular and more accessible. Fans now feel that they have a voice in their respected fandom and that the creators can actually listen to them. Through social media fans can influence content creators for the better of their content.

One of the most innovative pieces of transmedia is fan creation. Fans of giant shows and movies created hundreds of thousands of stories, art pieces, songs, games, short films, and many more based on their love and enjoyment of the fandom. Harry Potter has an entire website devoted to millions of fanfictions, and some of the authors even get paid for them! Transmedia also gives the audience a chance to interact with the creators for q&a's, behind the scenes, discussions, and never released footage and content. Fans have the opportunity to be heard by the creators and have an influence in the work. 

Another huge part of transmedia is marketing and advertising. With a huge fandom and unlimited access to the internet, studios and campaign workers can utilize the fan interaction to generate buzz for their work. One example is the The Hunger Games explorer: a wiki page created by Lionsgate for fans to visit for exclusive content. One of their big campaigns was a fashion contest inspired by the Capitol attire. The winner of the contest would win a trip to LA to go to the Catching Fire premiere. This and other online marketing strategies helped Catching Fire be one of the top-grossing films of 2013. 

An issue with transmedia is the relationship between creator and fan. These relationships can very from JK Rowling - who created Pottermore and is now developing a spin-off film trilogy based on a fanfiction piece - to Ryan Murphy - who is the showrunner of American Horror Story who uses and twitter and Tumblr to tease the audience and generate buzz about the show for ratings and views, not for the interaction. This past week Shonda Rhimes, the creator/showrunner of Grey's Anatomy, purposefully leaked to the Hollywood Reporter that a main character on the show is getting killed off. This of course, riled up fans, and took to twitter and got the topic trending worldwide. Thursday night on ABC, which is nicknamed Shonda Night because of her three shows airing, a very important character was killed. Grey's Anatomy has been airing for 11 seasons. Over the past few years the show has dropped in views and ratings, and since the show is still in limbo on whether it will be renewed, Shonda and her team needed a way to generate buzz about the show. In my opinion, this was a genius scheme to gain attraction to the show. The topic trended on Twitter for two nights after airing, and is still being featured on Buzzfeed and other news platforms. 

In the age of the internet and creator-audience relationships, transmedia storytelling is essential to have a popular and successful television series or film saga. With the audience feeling that they are an important part of the show's future and content, the shows themselves will be much more popular and loved. Transmedia, like the internet, has infinite possibilities. We don't know the full power either of them can generate and we are only in the in the infant stage. It is exciting to see what will become of transmedia in the next few decades. 

I am a huge fan of Game of Thrones and the books. I don't know what happens in the books, I'm only on book three, so I don't know what is going to happen in the series. I am going to write a spec script on the penultimate episode of season five, based on my idea of what is going to happen in the series. I have read many episodes and I can imitate DB Weiss and David Benioff's writing style and the dialogue of the characters. The reason I am writing the penultimate is because is the beginning of the climax of the season and bridges to the finale. The most famous penultimate episode in the series is "The Raines of Castamere" or The Red Wedding in season three. This episode changed the entire series and caused a huge backlash from fans. My episode will probably not be the actual story of the season, but it will be interesting to compare the two when the episode is released.  

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Mashin' Up Family Guy

I decided to mash up two different episodes of Family Guy in a script. The two episodes are Saving Private Brian (S05 EP04) and McStroke (S06 EP05). These two episodes mash together well because they have two completely separate stories. I had to write the script myself, since they aren't on the internet - not these specific episodes at least. The dialogue is not my own, nor the original plot, but I created a new episode with original action and I changed some characters and situations for the newly mashed plot. Writing the script was a tiring process, I had to dictate word-for-word and action-for-action from the episode to the page. I had to pause the video every minute or so to write it down. I then translated it all into an actual screenplay and rearranged and "mashed' the episodes together.

Family Guy Mashup Script

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Update Required to Continue: Copyright Laws in the Internet Era

I believe this is the fundamental code: if you're not making money off of it, you do not need to pay for the right to remix it. If somebody wants to make a parody spoof or a remix of a media, but does not make a profit of it, they should not have to pay a fee If it is just for the purpose of entertainment or education, then there is no stealing. If an aspiring musician or hobbyist wants to make an EDM remix of "Drunk In Love" by Beyonce, and share it on Soundcloud or another networking site just for the purpose of sharing and networking, then that remixer should not have to pay a fee to Universal Records or Beyonce. 

With the infinite "piracy" constantly happening and how easy it is to do, laws and companies need to be updated and made clear to everybody. My idea is that there is a where one registers their media and that's that. People can go onto that site and learn what their rights are as content creators.

Broadcast television is irrelevant now. It is obviously clear now that HBO is gutting their broadcast network and switching to an online streaming source. Game of Thrones was the most pirated show last year. Why? It is one of the most popular series but is legally accessible to around a quarter of its viewers. If you want a subscription to HBO GO, you need a subcritptfion to HBO. Most people don't have an HBO subscription because it's expensive and the majority of people don't have broadcast tv! HBO is now going to make soooo much more money because now the majority will get an HBO account, along with their Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon subscriptions.

I am a huge fan of American Horror Story. I watched the first three seasons on Netflix and was excited to watch the fourth season as it aired. But wait, the latest episodes are not available on Hulu Plus or Amazon the day after. Not a problem, I'll just go to a free-streaming "pirate" site and watch it for free online. I am happily willing to pay for subscriptions to those sites, but I will go on a free streaming site to watch the content I want to watch. It's what I did for Game of Thrones and it's what I am doing currently for True Detective.

With how easy it is to get free and illegal content, networks need to make their content easily and inexpensively accessible. Otherwise we'll go the other sites that are easy to use and virus free. No harm to us. 

1) Do whatever you want with the media as long as there is no profit being made, but make sure to cite the original.

2) Request to purchase a copyright fee for the media you want sampled/used with the intention to make a profit
That's it. Simple as that. 

If an artist wants to make a remix of my film, do it, as long as they cite that I am the original creator. Creativity comes from inspiration and what others have done before. Creators should be limited to what they can create because of out of date laws. I believe that if someone wants to create new art for the sake of art and not profit, create it as long as it is known where the original or sample came from. It's a sign of respect for their fellow artists and their integrity.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Don't Forget Your Manners, Lizzy

In Stephen Frears' The Queen we get a glimpse into the world of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, her family, and Parliament; and how they cope when tragedy strikes. Grace and tradition take a big role throughout the film, contrasting with the world and Her country outside of the Palace. As the story progresses, the old fashioned elegance of the Family opens up and modern behavior spills in. You can see the character arc of the Queen through her blocking alone.

The film begins with the infamous "Meeting the Queen" scene, where newly elected young Prime Minister Tony Blaire meets Elizabeth for the first time. As the palace guard warns him before he opens the grand double doors that leads into Her office, "never turn your back to her and always keep eye contact." The first meeting is very sharp and awkward, she doesn't like him and he's nervous as a sheep before slaughter. It's clear that it's going to be a bumpy ride. 

Elizabeth and her family like to spend time together whether they're watching TV together or hunting in the beautiful English country side. No matter how she acts during the work hors, the Queen does what she wants on her own time, which includes driving herself in an off-road Land Rover. There always will be a cordial way the Royal Family interacts with one another, but when they are alone the pressure is off, now it's just their default.

As Diana's death impacts the country and the people decide to rebel against the Family, Elizabeth tries her hardest to stay empowered. She keeps her head up high and her back straight, but in her own quarters and privacy it is noticeable that her posture is less tense and attitude is more relaxed. This is due to Hellen Mirren's impeccable performance and Stephen Frears' subtly powerful directing and camera work. Her overall body language becomes more tense and her patience runs out quickly as the events unfold throughout the week, which compliments the story and circumstances. 
Elizabeth and the Royal Family are coming into an age where they are not just seen as royalty, rather real human beings with privilege thanks to the newspapers and gossip newscasters; they can't simply go to galas and wave for the crowds, they have to show real humanity. This is daunting on Elizabeth, who was been ruling for fifty years, she doesn't know how to handle it and certainly won't take any advice from Mr. Blaire. Her subconscious pride and traditionalism gets in the way of her job and how she appears to the British people, and this all shows through her body language and performance. Blocking is very important in this film and especially focused around the Queen. Different people stand at different lengths around her, and different people have certain rules they must follow when around her. This all fades into odd gray zones during this tragedy filled week. One must remember what is important in time of sadness, and never turning away from Her Majesty is low on the priority list.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Fashion Week in Dogville

The town of Dogville, where twenty-some men, women, and children all live and struggle together in poverty and depression. Major factors of their difficult and dull lives are the minimalist set design and bleak lighting. But what showed me that they were living in poverty was the costume design. Classic Great Depression chic, with raggedy pants and skirts, dirty button-downs and blouses, and broken down shoes to bring it all together. Fashion and shopping aren't a priority of a citizen of Dogville, mostly because it isn't necessary.

When Grace, a fugitive on the run from her mobster father, stumbles her way into town she is dressed in a high-end fur coat, heels, jewelry, and makeup. This helps to show that she is an outsider in the town, and doesn't belong there. Grace is allowed to stay for two weeks to prove she is worth their while. She performs manual labor and numerous jobs for the townspeople, all in her aristocratic getup. Not until she has fully become a member of the community that she changes into the common rags of the women, which is so in that season.
The costume design in Dogville is a representation of how these people live and what they worry about. The women are more preoccupied with keeping the town maintained and raising the children than to go on a shopping spree, considering that most of the residents have never left the town. The men are too busy with bringing in some sort of income and utilizing Grace to all their "needs" to go out and buy a new pair of slacks. Clothing is a material to keep them warm and covered up, not much else. Even Grace becomes dirty and unkept as her stay in the town progresses.

After being sodomized and tortured, Grace is given a few days off. She decides to wash herself and her clothes, which the other residents don't do very often or at all. She finally has time to take care of herself and not being used for other peoples' tasks and games. Grace is still a member of the higher class back home, and her personality shows that at times. This decision to clean herself shows us that she is still the same Grace as she was the night she showed up in this hell-hole of a town.

When the mobsters and Grace's father show back up in the town square, Grace is dressed back into her fur and heels, fitting in well with her father's suit and hat. The moment she is back into her own outfit, Grace is once again not just a lone wolf mentally, but also physically. The costume design in Dogville may not seem like a big contribution to the film's mies-en-scene, but since it fits with the simplistic production design and overall aesthetic of the film, I would say it is a very important part.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Dobie Needs Space

In Martin Scorsese's Life Lessons, a successful painter named Lionel Dobie struggles with completing pieces for his upcoming gallery opening, and retaining a relationship with his muse and past lover, Paulette Just Paulette. They're on again, off again fighting and love/hatred for each other fuels Lionel's work and drives Paulette to leaving him and the art scene in general.

There were almost uncountable uses of cinematic tools to create a beautiful image and environment, but what most stuck out to me was space. The film opens with Lionel painting in his loft, in his natural environment with no distractions so he can focus on the art. His studio is massive with hardly any walls separating it. This is where he feels most like himself. The next scene is Lionel arguing with his dealer, who is stuck in the elevator. The shot design and placement describes the dealer as a animal in a cage, and Lionel as the viewer at the zoo. But there are also shots portraying Lionel as trapped in a cage, referencing his resistance to following deadlines and being told what to do.

We next see Lionel at the airport, waiting for Paulette. An airport is very large and open, but also very crowded. As he and Paulette walk down the halls, the shots are very tight so they constrain them together. He's happy to be with Paulette, and it has a feeling of home. As we move through the film, it is mostly placed in the studio. Paulette's bedroom is on a second story, where Dobie has to climb a flight of stairs to get to her. This resembles Rapunzel, and the humility he faces every time he goes to her room. It's small, and it's her space, he doesn't belong there and he knows it. 

There are other locations Lionel goes to with Paulette. One is an underground railroad where Paulette's old flame is performing. It's dark and creepy, Lionel is out of his element. He is surrounded by young people who are obsessed with an art concept that makes no sense to him. Another environment is one of Lionel's pier's gallery openings. The is the least favorite part of his job; getting dressing up and putting on a fake personality to woo fellow artists and buyers. The space is very claustrophobic, and Lionel feels trapped. When Paulette finally leaves, he's left in his open loft all alone for the first time in a while. The atmosphere feels different and it's much darker, Lionel is alone in his home, with no one to call his muse.

Finally, in his own gallery opening, there is a lot of people, but it also a very open space. Lionel doesn't have to woo anyone, it's everyone else who are doing the wooing. He is in his own space, comfortable and carefree. The way Scorsese uses space is remarkable in this film. Lionel Dobie is his best in his own space, and at his worst in spaces that are closed or small. It's very subtle, but plays a big role in Nick Nolte's performance. Every location and production design was a choice to make sure that Lionel's emotion matched the space he was in. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Bicycle Thief That Blows

"The 400 Blows" and "The Bicycle Thief" are two films that had a huge influence on the European Movement era. The difference between the European Movement films and other narrative films are three main points: the characters have no real goal even if there is a conflict established, there are moments in the film that have no true meaning and don't move the story along, and finally they end ambiguously and don't resolve anything. Theses two films were so influential because they were the most realistic of the films out there and the most popular.

"The 400 Blows" is about the childhood of Antoine Doinel, a problem-causing little French boy who deals with abuse from his teacher and struggling with his parents to survive. Antoine makes poor decisions in school and at home resulting in more abuse, and he decides to run away. We follow him through his adventures that lead him to military school. In the ending of the film, his parents don't forgive him or show him any love or comfort. The main want for Antoine is to be understood and loved by his parents, and the conflict is that he misbehaves and runs away, but his parents don't chase after him. There is no climax because the escalation is not motivated and the want is not resolved in any way, so there is no real resolution. My thoughts of this film is that it's not a true story, but more of a hyper-realistic take on life. There is never a guaranteed happy ending in life, and a lot of times it ends poorly. A lot of people relate to this film because we all felt at some time in our childhood that we needed to run away, and we thought we were not loved by our parents. This is a very relatable film, but it is not necessarily a story, or per say, not a conventional story.

"The Bicycle Thief" is about the struggles and hard times of Antonio Ricci and his family. They are very poor and can barely put food on the table or keep a roof over their heads. Antonio is offered a job as a poster hanger, but the problem is he needs means of transportation other than walking, you guessed it, a bike. Antonio scrapes up money to purchase a bike and begins the job. As we are watching this, we know what's coming next (mostly because of the title), somebody is going to steal the bike. Before  his first day at work is over, somebody steals the bike and gets away rather easily. The rest of the film follows Antonio and his son, the cute, little Bruno on their "adventure" trying to find the bike. The clear want of this film is to find the bike, and the conflict is they have no way of finding it and if they don't, he's screwed. The entire second act and most of the third act is this "adventure" that lasts an afternoon. After a scuffle with a suspect who turns out to be innocent, the escalation escalates rather too quickly: he becomes sad a desperate and steals somebody else's bike right in front of his son. He immediately gets caught and almost gets arrested. The film ends after a final scene where Antonio and Bruno walk off into the distance depressed and have given up on finding the bike. There is clearly a want, conflict, escalation, climax, but there is absolutely no resolution. We never know if they find the bike! But in keeping with the theme of the European Movement, this film is hyper-realistic and in life there is not always a resolution or happy ending. We have all lost something and hoped to find it by searching for it, but give up after a while because we have lost hope.

The theme with these films is the sense of hyper-realism. Life is messy, there is not always a resolution or happy ending and we as humans have to deal with it. We are so used to seeing movies or hearing stories that end with some sort of resolution. That is why these films are such a culture shock, because they just end. Nothing has been resolved and there is no happy ending, that's just the way it is. That is why, in my opinion, theses films are so fantastic and are also terrible at the same time. I want there to be a story and I want it to have a happy ending/resolution. But the way it ends is why I think is fantastic, they're rebel films, they take the rules of story and throw them out the window.  Not many films that have no story are well done, but these two are, because they are strategically planned and not just put together poorly. These two films are so influential because of all these reasons, and I have great respect for the films and the directors.