I’ll be shamelessly promoting my book, of course! OK, OK, that’s not entirely true. I do indeed have a book coming out in late June called ‘A Creator’s Guide to Transmedia Storytelling.’ In it I lay out some of the best practices for craft and logistics I’ve found helpful in telling stories across multiple platforms. The overall purpose of the book is to help fellow creators who are working on transmedia projects to avoid some common pitfalls, and also think critically about how to structure their work to make it as strong as it can be.
So at DIY Days this year, I’ll be doing a workshop where I’ll share some of what I’ve learned over the years, and then we’ll do some some brainstorming about how to apply those principles to real projects in the works. I’m really excited, and I hope the participants come away with some concrete plans to act on.
Checkered, colorful? In the nebulous past, I worked in magazine publishing, IT, and even a couple of dot-coms. But about ten years ago, I played an alternate reality game for the film A.I. that changed my life (not to be too dorky about it).
I’ve been making games and writing stories ever since, including projects like Perplex City, Thomas Dolby’s Floating City, and other non-city-related works like The Maester’s Path, a marketing campaign for HBO’s Game of Thrones. I’ve been exceptionally lucky that I’ve had opportunities to do transmedia work for marketing, for nonprofits, and independent original work. This breadth of experience has been fascinating, because you wind up seeing repeating patterns regarding what works and what doesn’t, no matter what you’re trying to achieve.
I love the feeling of limitless possibility that exists right now. It really feels like an historic moment, doesn’t it? You can crowdfund and livestream and bootstrap. It’s true that you still need resources to get attention, the way it’s always been, but there’s not the same necessity to struggle with gatekeepers just to get the ball rolling. You can substitute a certain amount of cash backing with a lot of elbow grease and the willingness to learn new skills. It’s a beautiful thing.
For THE future, well, world peace &c. &c. It’d be great to live in a world where human beings were mostly fair and decent to one another.
For MY future: That a freak lab accident will make it so I no longer require sleep. I have a lot of wishes, come to think of it: To venture into TV, to make a transmedia book series, to find someone with bags of money to underwrite whatever my latest hare-brained scheme might be… and some more personal stuff, like smelling the roses a little more and owning a lot less useless stuff.
But wishing doesn’t do much good, does it? Planning, that’s way better. I try to stick to planning.
Do you know, I detest picking favorites? When I love something, I love it to the depth of my heart, which remains the same depth no matter what it is I’m loving just this second. So I’ll name a few things that have filled me with delight but might not be my absolute #1 favorite things destined to stand for eternity.
Book: I just read and completely adored ‘The Magicians’ by Lev Grossman. It’s a sort of gritty adult telling of the Harry Potter/Narnia genre of books. Not the fantasy of escaping to a perfect world, but the reality that you bring your own baggage with you everywhere you go.
Film: At the moment you catch me, I am having deep nostalgia for ‘Big Trouble in Little China.’ I love that movie in a totally unironic, heartfelt, and deeply embarrassing fashion.
Album: Looking at my iTunes, the album I’ve played the most times and thus is probably the most important to me is… Lady Gaga’s ‘The Fame,’ which I am again finding a little embarrassing. How awkward. So instead I will recommend the Tron: Legacy soundtrack. There’s something about that soundtrack that switches my brain into all-out
productivity mode. I get so much writing done when I put that on, it’s nothing short of a miracle.
Experience: Oh, the usual: Holding a sleeping child in your arms and nuzzling her hair. The warm muzzy feeling of cozy blankets on a cold day when you don’t have anywhere to go. Blueberries warm from the sun and seconds from the picking. But those are experiences I’ve had and cherished, and I’m not sure what they are matters specifically, so much as being present for the experiences you do get to have. Some experiences are nice for everyone, but noticing the ones that only you get is what makes you who you are, and inform the stories that you can tell. Pay attention. Don’t miss them.
Creating a transmedia project is like walking a tightrope — you have to balance the desire for depth of narrative with remaining accessible to a wide audience, create the feeling of immersion without losing audience to friction between platforms, and establish authenticity without being so realistic that somebody calls the cops. Bring your
own project to this workshop to engage in a discussion about how to strike the right balance in your work.
Andrea Phillips is an award-winning transmedia writer and game designer whose work includes The Maester’s Path, a sensory journey for HBO Game of Thrones; the immersive browser-based game Thomas Dolby’s
Floating City; and the independent commercial alternate reality game Perplex City. She is a Fellow of the Futures of Entertainment. Her book, A Creator’s Guide to Transmedia Storytelling, will be out from McGraw-Hill in June 2012.