By peter katz, May 3rd, 2011

At SXSW I attended the Scandinavia Tech Summit, a panel covering technology and media.  Henrik Werdelin (@werdelin) was one panelist who stood out with his unique understanding of  tech startups.

As disruptive technology is forcing the entertainment industry to either evolve or die, more creators should talk to smart people like Henrik.

Below is our interview.

Please introduce yourself.

My name is Henrik Werdelin. I am the managing partner at Prehype. We are a group of product developers who bridge the world between entrepreneurship  and corporations by spinning new digital startups out of big companies and then selling them back to them. My background has always been around experience design and innovation; from running the product development for MTV International over startups like Joost and Hotpotato to working in venture capital.

What were your highlights from SXSW?
One big moment was the when I experienced first hand the power of social promotion as I stood next to Gary Vaynerchuk when he announced the location of his yearly SXSW wine flashmob. It was incredible to see a room filling from 5 people to over 300 in under 20 minutes. It made me think about how much impact our new social tools have. Normally when we do products and get e.g. 10.000 signups, we feel its only a marginal win. However, seeing 300 people poring into a room within such a short time was quite humbling.

Based on your background in experience design and innovation, how would you tell a transmedia story?
I know it might sound like a bad answer, but I think it very much depends on what the story is. New media are just tools that you can use to tell stories in a new – and often more engaging way. I feel too many media companies try to add new media components to their storytelling just to add those tools – and not because they add value to the story. They also often forget to fully understand how a users daily flow is – and then mold their use of technology around peoples behavior – instead of assuming that they can move people across different new mediums.

Who do feel are the most innovative storytellers and what can creators learn from them?
I think good storytellers – are good storytellers. Most of the more innovative ones uses new technology too add impact to their narrative. That can be from clever use of social media to establish suspense (like the blairwitch project), to simple game shows that adds user participation via sms (think American Idol), over CNN’s way to include their viewers via iReporter and finally people who use digital tools to tell a story. (like the guys who did However, clearly the game developers have managed to engage users in self-made storytelling and that is where I think we will see the most innovation come from.

Favorite books and blogs?
- The Singularity is Near
- :)
- Influences
- The Paradox of Choice
- A mind of its own

How would you make social games more social?
Move more of the gameplay outside the web and into real life.

Can film studios learn anything from startups?
I think everyone can learn from startups. A few lessons;
- Its hard to judge your own ideas in a board room. Therefore, find methods where you can produce components cheap enough to test it against real users and then build on it if it turns out to be successful.
- Identify if your incentive structure is aligned with your objectives. E.g. if you dont think your teams take enough risk, you probably have a structure where only playing it safe is compensated
- Think less – do more…

Will Netflix keep winning in an increasingly competitive market?
Yes. By being restrictive in their deal structures – studios have up to now prevented a healthy industry of innovative distribution partners

What are going to be the next major trends in the entertainment industry?
Gaming seems to be one of those industries that keep taking market share from the traditional entertainment industry. I think we will see more innovation from the game world. The last sprint was social gaming – but I think this form of entertainment that engage users will see more growth. Finally I think the user generated trend will continue also. As the barrier to entry into the entertainment industry goes down you will see a raise of independent overnight sensations.

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Posted in social media storytelling 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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