From opportunities to break into the transmedia market to innovative business models for creative entrepreneurs and Malaysian content producers, renowned transmedia expert, Caitlin Burns continues her chat with Entrepreneurs.my in Part 2 of our 3 series installment for the MSC and X Media Labs’ kr8v.asia . Ms. Burns was behind the transmedia successes of multiple range of products both online and offline from famous films like Hasbro’s Transformers, to Pirates of the Caribbean to even TRON Legacy.
Continued from Part 1…
3) It is everyone’s dream to bring their ideas to life, especially when their ideas can be turned to characters and stories that people follow. But, the question is, how does one get started? What would you tell a young budding entrepreneur who loves animation to kick-start his dreams?
You don’t have to start with a full-length feature film to get attention and build your audience. A more modestly budgeted short animated film or creative web series, carefully crafted and considerately built can begin to explore the global audience and build your fan base, even get the attention of the investor or patron who believes you have what it takes to make it big. This development can yield the analytics and proof of concept necessary to prove the value of your project and story world to investors and International distributors.
In Hollywood and Europe, starting small is becoming the rule, rather than the exception, for companies and creators who are seeking to make a name for their stories and projects. Using specific techniques– like the ones we’ve developed at Starlight Runner– create strategies that build audiences early, validate their experiences. We also collaborate with a huge variety of artists and creators internationally. There’s a great community of creators in transmedia– most of whom are willing to share their expertise if you seek them out on social media; Jeff Gomez (@jeff_gomez), myself (@caitlin_burns) – and others who use twitter and similar social networks will often respond to questions or spend time talking to new creators because that’s how we learn what’s going on in the field too.
4) Based on your experience in the industry, how does one market its animation or film’s content to appeal towards the other stakeholders who would produce the products, merchandises and branded goods in the transmedia industry? What are they looking for in terms of a film’s content and appeal?
For starters, most brands and businesses don’t necessarily know yet why they would want to be your partner. You must be the expert and the advocate for your story, your project and why someone would want to work with you in this way. Be sure that you can explain your story well to someone whatever their own expertise, and when you’re talking to a specific group, be prepared with data on why your project (or similar projects) is successful enough to be a good investment. Know who you’re talking to well enough to be able to explain why working together would be mutual beneficial. Finally, what most of these companies are looking for is your ability to reach an audience, how engaged that audience is, and how visible their contribution can be.
If you can build your audience and keep track of your online stats, demonstrate their engagement online, and show a return on investment for the story pieces you put together, those are what will show some of the reasons someone would want to be involved in your project. If you’re pitching, you also need to be able to show your work as well as simply tell someone about it, so creating brand bibles (or mythologies) that not only describe your story world in detail but have robust visuals to excite the imagination of your potential business partners are essential. Taking the time to create “mock-ups” or prototypes of potential products to give your audience a look at what your project can become and the thought you’ve given to how your project can expand to benefit everyone involved.
Lastly, know the audience you’re pitching to, when you’re approaching another business or creator, be aware enough of who you’re talking to speak their industry’s language, not just English or Chinese or Malay, but the terms and processes of say gaming, or web development, or the history of a brand or studio you’re approaching. Educate yourself enough to know what they would want and why it’s a good idea for both of you. It’s different for every partnership and every industry and as a creator, the best thing you can do is reach out and learn.
5) Are there any global financing agency or funding opportunities for entrepreneurs to apply for, to get started with the animation industry or getting involved with transmedia?
Right now, funding opportunities for these kinds of projects are starting up around the globe. Countries like Canada and Australia; regions of Brazil and others are creating government programs and NGOs to support transmedia development. In the United Kingdom funds are being developed to support new work in the field. In the United States, many funding foundations in education and public service work now require this kind of multiple platform development from grantees. Organizations like Power to the Pixel and X Media Lab connect transmedia developers to funding internationally as well as creating opportunities to learn from creators like Kreative.Asia in Kuala Lumpur, April 6-8.
On the independent side, websites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo are allowing new creators to seek funding from their future audiences through crowdsourcing. In return for special content, advanced purchase of a DVD, even invitations to parties with members of the production, entrepreneurs are finding the means to make their dreams reality. The methods are fairly straightforward; Malaysia would be ripe for a clever entrepreneur to set up a similar platform.
To be continued into Part 2 on 4/4/2012…
Caitlin Burns is a Transmedia Producer with Starlight Runner Entertainment, New York-based entertainment studio that specializes in transmedia development and production. There she creates and influences fictional universes that are familiar to millions worldwide including: Pirates of the Caribbean, and Tron Legacy for Disney, James Cameron’s Avatar, Halo for Microsoft, The Happiness Factory for Coca-Cola, and Transformers for Hasbro. She has also worked with Showtime, Sony, Nickelodeon, Scholastic, Nelvana, and Wieden+Kennedy.
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