Last week it was reported that the Producers Guild of America (PGA) Board of Directors approved the addition of “Transmedia Producer” to the Guild’s Producer Code of Credits.
This new producer credit acknowledges people who create multi-platform content for franchises and/or projects. For those in Hollywood East who are considering producing, this new credit shows that there are even more options for them.
The full description of this new title is defined by Nikki Finke of Deadline Hollywood Daily:
The Guild defines a Transmedia Narrative project or franchise of one that consists of three (or more) narrative storylines esxisting within the same fictional universe on any of the following platforms: Film, Television, Short Film, Broadband, Publishing, Comics, Animation, Mobile, Special Venues, DVD/Blu-ray/CD-ROM, Narrative Commercial and Marketing rollouts and other technologies that may or may not currently exist. These narrative extensions are NOT the same as repurposing material from one platform to be cut or repurposed to different platforms
A Transmedia Producer credit is given to the person(s) responsible for a significant portion of a project’s long-term planning, development, production, and/or storylines for new platforms. Transmedia producers also create and implement interactive endeavors to unite the audience of the property with the canonical narrative and this element should be considered as valid qualification for credit as long as they are related directoly to the narrative presention of a project.
An example of transmedia producing are the added web and gaming elements that were part of the billion dollar blockbuster Avatar. Along with the film, there were downloadable iPhone apps, an “official guide to Pandorapedia (the world within the film),” and even a way for yourself to become an Avatar.
Jeff Gomez, a transmedia producer who has designed campaigns for film franchises including Avatar and is a big proponent of this new credit, states that “what’s so powerful about transmedia implementation is that it maximizes the potential of your story or message, while both building intense brand loyalty and opening up multiple revenue streams.”
Some, however, are upset with the the definition of this new position. Most debate is aimed at the “three narrative thread” rule, which is thought to be aimed specifically at franchises. Many argue, however, that that is only one implementation of transmedia projects. Christy Dena, a well known transmedia producer, points out that books with accompanying DVDs or websites and special television episodes with web tie-ins are other forms of transmedia storytelling, but do not follow the three narrative rule.
Although there is a debate about the qualifications of a transmedia producer, this new credit shows that the entertainment industry is trying to adapt to the changing media landscape by recognizing a growing field.
“Our 2009 slate was greenlit in a very different economic climate and as a result we must remain flexible and willing to recalibrate and adapt to a changing environment,” said Grey in a press release. “This is a situation facing every single studio as we all work through the financial pressures associated with the broader downturn.”
Deadline Hollywood Daily (DHD) spelled out the financial pressures, relaying a studio source’s insight that “’s got the cash, just not the home video sales: ‘Given where the DVD business is in 2009, our only hope is the economy and the retail business rebounds in 2010 because the hardest hit segment has been movies that play to an older adult audience.’”
Shutter Island is the second major studio flick to jump from fall 2009 to February 2010, after Universal’s The Wolfman. The postponement will knock the film out of contention for the March 2010 Academy Awards. However, now that the Academy has expanded the Best Picture category to 10 nominees, it will be easier for a movie released at the beginning of the year to be recognized. DHD confirms that Shutter Island‘s Oscar dreams are still alive with comments from a studio insider: “ studio settled on the release date of February 19th because ‘’that’s when Silence of the Lambs came out’ back in 1991 and it won the Oscar.”
Shutter Island’s all-star team—most notably the dynamic duo of Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio—has fueled speculation about the reasons behind postponement; after all, who wouldn’t shell out some cash or risk home video sales for the boys who brought us the 2006 Best Picture winner, The Departed? DHD reports that DiCaprio wasn’t going to be available for international promotion efforts, but this reasoning seems shady as well with modern inventions like contracts and iCals.
In spite of Scorsese’s track record, the release postponement is raising questions about the quality of the movie. A filmic interpretation of Dennis Lehane’s novel by the same name, Shutter Island is the story of two U.S. marshals who investigate the disappearance of a mental hospital patient. Clearly this isn’t fodder for a light-hearted, coming-of-age film; plan to sleep with the hallway light on for a week after catching this flick.
Even Lehane himself admits to shaking in his boots. At an October 2008 appearance at The Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale, Arizona, he explained that the opening scene “freaks him out,” and that he anticipates that the film will be “disturbing.”
Filmmaker Celina Murga recounted her experience on Shutter Island shoots in the January edition of Cahiers du Cinema: “Dialogues are filmed through close-ups, with the characters virtually looking at the camera shaft. The result is something deeply disquieting. It is uncomfortable for the spectator since they are intense monologues of patients spouting their madness.”
Despite the accounts, it’s unlikely that the film is too disturbing for theater release; in fact, DHD’s insider reported that the film “…tested in the high 80s/low 90s and Scorsese even brought it down to 2 hours.” Alas, the missing-person mystery film remains a mystery itself. Check out the trailer below for some clues.
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