By peter katz, March 31st, 2010

Multiplatform Storytelling: A Master Class with Tim Kring at SXSW brought a rock star–sized following of fans and some press excited to see the architect behind Heroes. Brian Seth Hurst moderated it. Their discussion started with them revealing how George Lucas invented transmedia storytelling. Prepare to be shocked-it all started November 17, 1978 with The Star Wars Holiday Special. A mysterious new character appeared on this show. His name was Bobba Fett. Before long Bobba Fett could also be purchased as a limited edition action figure in toy stores. Fans were confused and excited about this bounty hunter who came out of nowhere. About a year later when The Empire Strike Back was released Bobba Fett showed up again. Many fans were already aware of him. It was the first time a character originated on one platform then moved to the “mother ship of the property”.

Next Tim talked about his experience in the TV biz, then and now. When he started out a viewer had limited options: passively watch a show, at a certain time, via their TV. Now technology has offered new ways to distribute content at anytime to viewers e.g. smart phones and computers. It’s a double-edged sword; this has also brought about new competitors-including social networks and casual games that can steal eyeballs from a TV show.

How things have changed:

Casual game FarmVille surpasses 80 million users http://mashable.com/2010/02/20/farmville-80-million-users/

Nielsen data shows that U.S. Facebook users now spend an average of seven hours per month on the site.

Apple announced that more than three billion apps have been downloaded from its App Store by iPhone and iPod touch users worldwide.

Some people have looked at transmedia storytelling like a novelty; Tim knew it was a necessity. So for Heroes his strategy was to  “fish where the fish are”.  He created Heroes Evolution, which expanded his stories beyond a TV screen with weekly web graphic novels connected to the show, interactive puzzles that engage fans with text messages and phone apps, among many other techniques to reach an elusive audience who have migrated all over the place. Tim’s closing remarks were he recommended that young producers should prepare to pitch TV executives their shows with a transmedia strategy. For future projects Tim is considering making his story the mother ship where everything is connected vs having his TV show at the hub.

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Posted in audience-building cross-media marketing transmedia

peter katz is an award winning filmmaker based in Los Angeles. Peter has produced genre films that have screened all over the world from the AFI Fest to the Rome Film Festival. His first picture Home Sick starred Bill Moseley from The Devil's Rejects and Tom Towles from Henry Portrait Of A Serial Killer. Next Peter worked with Tobe Hooper (director of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Poltergeist) on Mortuary, which premiered on the Sci Fi Channel. Most recently he was a producer on Pop Skull, a psychological ghost film, that has received great reviews in Variety and numerous film web sites. Currently, Peter is developing projects across various mediums including film, comics, and the web.

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