Transmedia is rapidly becoming a more well-known term, and has been THE buzz word for new films, games, TV shows and web series for awhile now, but do you know what it is? And if you do, do you have a transmedia component to your film? In short, transmedia is the multiple lives your story can have across multiple media: apps, graphic novels, interactive websites, web series to support a TV show, game to support a film, etc.
I’m not sure what the U.S. film and TV industry expects in terms of transmedia, whether we’re ahead of, behind or right in line with many other nations, but I know that in Canada, most TV networks won’t give you much time if you don’t come to them with a transmedia component fleshed out when you pitch your story. This year, a couple of transmedia efforts have caught my eye, and I just stumbled across an awesome transmedia wiki set up by Transmedia L.A.
THE FUTURE (2011)
Directed by Miranda July
Visit July’s site for her latest flick, The Future, and you can click on “Your Future” which directs you to the “oracle,” a multicolored mosaic-like circle. You click on it and it acts like a fortune cookie, producing a cryptic or humorous piece of advice for you to follow. You can “spin” the oracle once to have your future told and then sign up to get daily fortunes via email. I think this is a brilliant idea, one which really keeps the film fresh in potential audience members’ minds. Even if people don’t see the film, or can’t, depending on whether it’s playing in their local theatre, it’s a great way to build and hold onto an audience. Each person’s email goes into a database and can be used in future (no pun intended!)
Look into your future — click here to visit the oracle:
If you read this blog at all, you know that I’m a supporter of British filmmaker, Carol Morley’s new documentary Dreams of a Life. The film recreates and explores the life of Joyce Carol Vincent, a resident of London who died in her flat and wasn’t discovered until three years after her death. It’s a haunting story. I haven’t yet seen it, but it was released in U.K. cinemas starting December 16 and is playing all over the country at least through March 2012. One reason I find this story so fascinating is because it explores the life of a woman whose experiences are all too common: how we live our daily lives, many in isolation, perhaps taking for granted people are alright, living their lives the same as us. So, how does something like an unnoticed death happen? Who’s responsible? How can we better keep tabs on one another, to check in on each other, just to see if we’re doing alright? Vincent died of an unknown cause, her TV blaring, surrounded by Christmas presents it looked like she’d been wrapping, and other bags of items as if she’d just gotten home from shopping.
To support her film, an interactive experience (a “sister project”) has been launched called Dreams of Your Life, which takes you through a conversational type of exploration of what we like to keep private, what we share, what scares us, and intersperses bits of information about Joyce Carol Vincent throughout. You’re also asked for your name (though you can make one up), which you can type into a box, and later on, an email if you’d like to give it. Of course, these go into a database for future communications regarding the film.
Choices are also given when the player is asked a question, both “yes” and “no,” responses, but also ones which encourage further exploration of some of the topics of the experience, the background, though static in terms of design, begins to age and change: a vase of red flowers wilts, withers and dries;a sunny day turns cloudy and rainy; a green bush changes color and then becomes bare, etc. It’s quite a self-reflective game that allows you the opportunity to delve into some subjects which we don’t always open ourselves up to exploring.
Check out the Dreams of Your Life interactive experience here:
While I’m not versed in transmedia — I know what it is, though — I’m really keen on learning more. I came across this resource from Transmedia L.A. which has put together a wiki to allow people to share resources. Think of it as a type of clearing house where you can just click through and find things you might spend hours trying to find through google searches. The group has focused on the following topics to include in its wiki:
– social media
Almost any story can have a life on multiple platforms, and as someone who writes and is developing my own TV shows and screenplays, I can’t forget about the importance of transmedia. I’ll be using this resource to make it easier to imagine how I might tease out storylines to design a game, or explore a situation through a map, or whatever might be appropriate. Have any of you dear readers used this resource? Can you suggest any more useful transmedia links? Please do!!!
Check out the announcement of the Wiki here, with profiles on four tools to use:
Since I read an article in The Guardian newspaper in October written by director Carol Morley on her newest film, Dreams of a Life, I’ve been haunted by the story and following Morley’s film as best I can. I wrote a short piece here a couple of months back. Morley’s documentary focuses on the mysterious life and enigmatic subject of Joyce Carol Vincent, a woman who died in her small London flat, only to be found three years later, nearly mummified. How did it happen? Why? Who was Joyce Carol Vincent? Carol Morley’s film is being released in cinemas in the U.K. today.
Check out the following links for more information on her and her film, Dreams of a Life:
PRODUCERS GUILD OF AMERICA & INDIE PRODUCER KARIN CHIEN
Some of you may have been following the recent developments with regard to the Producers Guild of America’s (PGA) stipulations about accepting English-language only films for awards considerations. Karin Chien, producer of many films, including the recent Circumstance by director Maryam Keshavarz, has taken issue with this given the complicated production and financing realities of film today. During the debate surrounding this issue, Angelina Jolie’s film, In the Land of Blood and Honey (her directorial debut) received a major award from the PGA despite the fact that the film is in the Bosnian language. Karin indicated to me in a tweet about my asking “why?” that celebrities can often get around these rules. I wonder how often this happens?
Check out the following links to catch up on what’s happening.
Karin Chien wrote a piece for the Huffington Post on Dec. 13:
Marian Evans of Wellywood Woman posted a stellar interview with Karin Chien on Dec. 14 talking about Asian film, women filmmakers in Asia and Chien’s distribution company dGenerate Films. Check out Marian’s piece: “Karin Chien: Producer & Distributor Extraordinaire” and follow her project, “Development,” on Facebook and Twitter @devt.
SWAN Day / Support Women Artists Now Celebrates 5th Anniversary in 2012
The organization WomenArts in San Francisco has announced SWAN Day 2012 and is gearing up for the big event! SWAN Day is now an international holiday which coincides with Women’s History Month (International Women’s Day is every March 8 and turned 100 this year). SWAN Day is a special day to celebrate women artists all around the world, and WomenArts has some great ways to become involved, including organizing and posting events, accessing fundraising materials and publicity materials, plus much more.
This film (a series of five shorts) aired on Lifetime on Monday, October 10, a work co-sponsored by Walgreens (Way to Well) and Ford (Warriors in Pink). Echo, the production company Jennifer Aniston runs with her producing partner, Kristine Hahn, also had a hand in the production. FIVE is a series of films meant to call attention to the crisis of breast cancer, encourage women to take care of themselves and remain vigilant, and to raise money for breast cancer research and a cure.
It’s a very inspiring series of films, beginning with Demi Moore’s “Charlotte,” told from the perspective of a small girl (“Pearl,” who is the one person connecting all five stories) who wants nothing more than to see her mother who is kept behind a closed door — she is dying of breast cancer. No one will tell Pearl what’s wrong. The backdrop of this is the lunar landing in 1969 which everyone in the house (lots of relatives) seems intent on watching. Pearl isn’t interested, however, and insists on seeing her mother. Eventually, she is allowed to, more out of pity felt by the adults than anything else, and she shares her drawing with her mother, “Charlotte” (played by Ginnifer Goodwin). Her mother gives her a necklace which Pearl eventually gives to her own daughter. Moore does a great job at evoking the frustration and desperation of a child who doesn’t know what is happening to her mother, and the adults are often shot from the shoulders down, much as a child would see them.
Continuing with the story is Penelope Spheeris, who directs “Cheyanne,” about an exotic dancer who learns from her doctor (Pearl, now an adult, played by Jeanne Tripplehorn), that she has breast cancer. This is after her husband feels a lump, and her world is turned upside down with the realization that she will lose both breasts. Will their relationship survive? How can he help her? Out of all five of the films, it’s the one which spends the most time focused on the reaction of a partner of a person with breast cancer. His world is turned upside down, too, but he’s finally able to come to terms with it. Despite their problems, they start to work them out, and decide to start a family. A touching moment ends this film, when he unzips her shirt and strokes and kisses her scars. Cheyanne is obviously self-conscious, even scared. Spheeris does a great job here of treating these characters (and this issue) with respect and tenderness.
Patricia Clarkson rocks her role as “Mia Newell” in Jennifer Aniston’s film. Diagnosed by Pearl, who has by now diagnosed many a woman with breast cancer, it’s made up of flashbacks, beginning with Mia getting married (her husband played by Tony Shalhoub). We move through Mia’s mock funeral, a bittersweet and hilarious yet sad, scene, to her (now ex-) husband leaving her while she’s in the midst of treatment and convinced she will die, to meeting her current husband (Shalhoub), to her diagnosis from Pearl. Clarkson is one of my favorite actresses, and she tackled her character with such dignity and respect, it was quite impressive to watch. This film also stars Kathy Najimy as Mia’s best friend.
Alicia Keys directs “Lili,” the story of a young woman played by Rosario Dawson, who finds out she has a lump that needs to be removed. A dedicated and super-busy professional with an assistant, she has to navigate the very choppy waters of her relationship with her narcissistic mother played by the brilliant Jenifer Lewis, with support from her sister, played by Tracee Ellis Ross. Dawson plays this character with a quiet steeliness: she is a no-nonsense professional woman, but in the end, finds that she does, in fact, need the support of her mother and sister. They refuse to leave the waiting area while Lili is in out-patient care, but she returns, not being able to face the doctors preparing for the lumpectomy. Keys does a great job with a scene shot in the hospital bathroom, a highly emotional scene where Dawson and Ross confront each other on how they grew up and how difficult a life Lili had without any support from her much older sister. Jeffery Tambor also plays a small role, a man who has also been diagnosed with breast cancer.
Finishing off the series is the Patty Jenkins-directed “Pearl,” all about the woman who ties all of these women together (played by Jeanne Tripplehorn). She not only saw her mother die of breast cancer, now that she’s a mother and an oncologist, she also finds herself diagnosed with breast cancer. The film begins with her narrating a scene showing dozens of women going about their daily lives — she gives us an omnisicient glimpse of their lives, some as breast cancer survivors, others training for a race to raise money for the cure, another not yet knowing she has breast cancer…. While she receives a great deal of support from her husband (played by the great Alan Ruck), she finds that her father, now in his 70’s, still resistant to talking about his wife (“Charlotte” from Moore’s film of the same name), but Pearl insists and he wonders why. She tells him her diagnosis but yet he still refuses to talk about it and she leaves in anger. Even telling her young daughter is too much for her, a huge thing to have to talk about with a child, and she finds a way to do it with her husband’s help. In the end, it is Pearl who “kisses the wall” (survivors kiss a wall of glass tiles in the hospital, leaving a message and an impression), with all the characters from the other films which she had diagnosed with breast cancer, surrounding her with their loved ones. Finally, her father shows up and gives her a present that reminds her of her mother, and the reconciliation process begins.
Such a misunderstood disease even as recently as the late 1960’s, we’ve come a long way (not just in the film) to acknowledging the importance of finding a cure for breast cancer and talking about this issue openly.
DREAMS OF A LIFE
Still from the film Dreams of a Life. This is a scene from the apartment of Joyce Carol Vincent, dead three years before being found in her apartment
While combing through the twitter feeds on Tuesday of all the people I follow, I came across a story posted by Hawai’i Women In Filmmaking. The link read simply: How could this young woman lie dead and undiscovered for almost three years? I had to click on it. Just the question, let alone the incredible story I read, gave me pause. If this is true, I thought (about the article title), how did it happen? How do we live so quietly within our own little worlds that we don’t notice that someone who lives, literally, on the other side of the wall, has died and been decomposing for three years? How do we not notice this? How have we built so many walls (literal and metaphorical) around ourselves that someone living 10 feet away through the wall or through the front door dies and we have no idea? This way of life amazes me, and so many of us are guilty of it. Her story haunts me, and I keep wondering, specifically, how did THIS woman, Joyce Carol Vincent, end up in that London bedsit, dead, with no one from her family and none of her neighbors knowing — for three years? I want to see this film.
Joyce Carol Vincent, subject of the documentary Dreams of a Life
“I Came to Testify” (produced & written by Pamela Hogan)
“Pray the Devil Back to Hell” (produced by Abigail Disney, directed by Gini Reticker)
“Peace Unveiled” (produced by Claudia M. Rizzi, written by Abigail Disney, directed by Gini Reticker)
“The War We Are Living” (produced by Oriana Zill de Granados, written by Pamela Hogan and Oriana Zill de Granados)
“War Redefined” (produced & written by Peter Bull)
This is a major undertaking, a five-part series airing weekly on PBS, with the first film having aired on Tuesday night. The next four Tuesdays at 9PM eastern will be the schedule, so tune in if you can. The first film is a subject which I know enough about to know I need to know MORE about. The horrifying stories shared by Bosnian Muslim women who were systematically raped and enslaved by Serbian soldiers (during the war/genocide in the early-mid-90’s) were the glue which held together the case against three Serbian military commanders held at The Hague. This case was the first to establish rape as a “crime against humanity” and as a “war crime.” One of the attorneys who defended the Bosnian women shared the story of how the Nuremberg trials virtually eliminated the participation of women and ignored the crime of rape, lumping it in with general “war crimes.” Astonishing that it took 50 years to have rape classified as it now is under international law. By the way, three women led the charge to bring this case to The Hague and defend the dozens of Bosnian Muslim women who were treated with such incredible inhumanity.
While it exposed the atrocities in great detail, this film also showed how empowering the event was, allowing these tortured women to assert themselves and proclaim their dignity. After all, stated one of the defense attorneys for the women, they did not know if these men would be convicted, but they all (16 of them in total) determined to share their stories, tell the truth and try to make a difference.
Information on Women, War and Peace can be found on the PBS website. The first episode, “I Came to Testify,” can be viewed online through PBS.