Several weeks ago the Producers Guild of America officially sanctioned the credit “Transmedia Producer”, the first time they had ever added a new credit in the Guild’s history. The move was widely celebrated by the transmedia community but still brought up a great deal of debate, one of the issues being whether this would have more benefit for huge Hollywood-backed brands vs. independent transmedia producers creating original IP.
With the announcement of a partnership between Starlight Runner Entertainment, a leading creator, producer, and consultant on a number of highly successful transmedia franchises, and Curious Pictures, an award-winning diversified production and entertainment company that produces animation, live-action, video games, commercials and digital media content, it seems a step in the right direction for creators hoping to create original worlds. Starlight Runner and Curious Pictures initially will package and produce four transmedia projects with an option to extend the partnership after that. The first two projects starting immediately include the original properties Dinodozers (the story of dinosaurs who are fitted with mechanical construction parts in order to do good deeds) and Shadow Angels (about a teen with mysterious powers and a dark past who is chosen to become the guardian of a civilization of strange beings hidden below the streets of New York City), one from each company’s IP library.
Tubefilter had a chance to talk via e-mail with CEO of Starlight Runner Entertainment, Jeff Gomez. Gomez was instrumental in getting the Transmedia Producer credit sanctioned and is an extremely vocal supporter and advocate for the transmedia community.
Tubefilter: How did this partnership between Starlight Runner Entertainment and Curious Pictures come about?
Jeff Gomez: Starlight Runner and Curious Pictures have had a long, friendly relationship. A number of years ago, we loaned out our Creative Director Chrysoula Artemis to Curious for a several year assignment as “Color Key Commando” on Codename: Kids Next Door, which had a great run on Cartoon Network.
We often tried to find bigger ways to work together, but it wasn’t until Jan Korbelin took the reigns at Curious that we were able to do that. Jan seemed to have brought out the best in his team, allowing people like Lewis Kofsky and Dominie Mahl to do some radical thinking about the future of entertainment and animation. When Lewis started talking about multi-platform approaches to intellectual property development, I knew we could start having a great conversation.
The bottom line is, our teams met and we realized there was an enormous number of ways that we could compliment one another, and Jan and I clicked.
Tubefilter: How is the progress on both Dinodozers and Shadow Angels? When can we expect to start seeing various media out of both?
JG: Both properties had a bit of development to them coming into the discussion. We’ve chosen to focus on Dinodozers, because I’ve been personally busy with Hollywood studio work and my team, led by Fabian Nicieza, can act in a supportive position with world development and transmedia development around the Curious property. That isn’t to say I’m not going to be involved. When I was a kid I was convinced I was a dinosaur in human disguise, after all. Maybe I still am…
Tubefilter: These projects seem aimed at a younger audience, in your experience, how do younger audiences respond to transmedia experiences as opposed to older audiences?
JG: Dinodozers is preschool, but Shadow Angels is darker, more Goth, aimed at the young adult crowd. The story’s very special to me. I love it that Curious is going with such a range of properties. In any event, one of the most powerful brands in all of pop culture in the past decade has been Pokemon. That’s about as immersive and transmedia as you can get.
Young people right now are receiving information, particularly narrative in ways no human has ever gotten it before. They’re being challenged, and the wonderful thing is that they’re rising to it. The mistake adults are making is in underestimating their capacity or coddling them instead of adjusting the way that kids are told stories and are educated to maximize this new potential. The Starlight Runner/Curious Pictures is symbolic of how these approaches are going to change and catch up with the way kids want and need to experience story.
Tubefitler: Has anyone at either Starlight Runner or Curious Pictures applied and/or received the Transmedia Producer credit from the PGA yet?
JB: The Producers Guild of America doesn’t hand out producers credits. They recommend how producers might be credited in movies and new media, and it’s up to studios, agents and lawyers and such to decide to whom such credits will apply and what the compensation for it will be. However, there are already many very forward-thinking studios and companies that see the credit as an asset.
My partner Mark Pensavalle and I will be listed as Transmedia Producers on an upcoming project with a very well known game developer and publisher, which we will announce soon. That’s tremendously exciting, because I think it will be a first from a contractual standpoint for the credit. It’s only a matter of time before a major Hollywood studio puts one on a film.
Tubefilter: Anything else you’d like to share you think would interest our readers or fans of transmedia in general? What will excite us most about these projects?
JG: The most exciting thing about Dinodozers and Shadow Angels as transmedia projects is that they exist! One of the initial criticisms of the Transmedia Producer credit is that it was devised in support of highly commercial franchises from the Hollywood studio system; that it was about extending something that already existed so that it makes another boatload of money.
That’s great and all to me, that pays my rent, but guess what?
Independent Transmedia Producers like Starlight Runner and Curious Pictures are going to create brand new story worlds and vast narratives that are designed from scratch to use each medium like well-played instruments in a tight rock and roll band…and the sound is gonna be awesome.