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.  

1 comment:

  1. I think it’s interesting how through your examples you’ve really touched on several of the big throughlines from the semester. It seems like your post focused mostly on fan created work (both on their own and through encouragement by the “creators”) and how creators use social media for “buzz” and engagement. What I don’t necessarily see in your post is some of the ways that Transmedia storytelling works - stories that are told across multiple platforms not just by fans, but by creators themselves. I’m wondering what you think about things such as The Lizzie Bennet Diaries or some of the other cross media examples that aren't related so directly to marketing? I'm not sure if I count the creator of Grey's Anatomy leaking info about a character dying as "transmedia storytelling." But certainly if she had published up his obituary for fans to find then it would be "furthering the story" in a different way.

    Another big question I’d have from a lot of your examples is the question of authorship. In the spin-offs that JK Rowling is creating how does authorship work, if she was inspired by the work of fans? Of course they were inspired by her copyrighted work, so in a sense she owns the materials to begin with…but how much of their ideas is she taking? Is there protection for their own original ideas when fans post to these fandoms? Who “owns” that material - meaning does anyone make money off of it? This is just the one example you bring up - this has been seen in many other examples. The one I brought up in class was when a fan of Lost began getting a lot of attention over the stop motion videos he posted up using the action figures of the Lost characters the actual creators of the show started making they own licensed version of little videos on their website. Perhaps the guy was just excited to have gotten that much attention - but it brings up an interesting question of authorship (which relates back to even our exploration of mash-ups and copyright issues). It just shows how the digital age and its “participatory culture” continues to make these questions of authorship and creation even more complicated.