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Okay, I guess it’s official now.

As Deadline Hollywood is reporting, the Producer’s Guild of America has officially created a new category for the “transmedia producer.”

From Nikki Finke’s piece:

I’ve learned that a significant All-Boards meeting for the Producers Guild of America took place tonight. Sources tell me that the members voted on a series of amendments that qualify individuals as professional producers. More importantly, for the first time in the guild’s history, they voted on and ratified a new credit — that of the Transmedia Producer — which had been shepherded by such Hollywood names as Mark Gordon, Gael Anne Hurd, Jeff Gomez, Alison Savage, and Chris Pfaff.

Jeff Gomez, who spoke this weekend at DIY Days, was a big part of the push to institute this credit. What’s a Transmedia Producer? From the PGA:

A Transmedia Narrative project or franchise must consist of three (or more) narrative storylines existing within the same fictional universe on any of the following platforms: Film, Television, Short Film, Broadband, Publishing, Comics, Animation, Mobile, Special Venues, DVD/Blu-ray/CD-ROM, Narrative Commercial and Marketing rollouts, and other technologies that may or may not currently exist. These narrative extensions are NOT the same as repurposing material from one platform to be cut or repurposed to different platforms.

A Transmedia Producer credit is given to the person(s) responsible for a significant portion of a project’s long-term planning, development, production, and/or maintenance of narrative continuity across multiple platforms, and creation of original storylines for new platforms. Transmedia producers also create and implement interactive endeavors to unite the audience of the property with the canonical narrative and this element should be considered as valid qualification for credit as long as they are related directly to the narrative presentation of a project.

Transmedia Producers may originate with a project or be brought in at any time during the long-term rollout of a project in order to analyze, create or facilitate the life of that project and may be responsible for all or only part of the content of the project. Transmedia Producers may also be hired by or partner with companies or entities, which develop software and other technologies and who wish to showcase these inventions with compelling, immersive, multi-platform content.

To qualify for this credit, a Transmedia Producer may or may not be publicly credited as part of a larger institution or company, but a titled employee of said institution must be able to confirm that the individual was an integral part of the production team for the project.

For thoughts on the PGA’s rules, visit Christy Dena’s blog. Among her specific critiques: the three storyline rule.

From Dena:

The minimum of three (or more) narrative storylines. This is bad. I know Jeff Gomez has been pushing for the 3 media-platform rule for a few years now. But that was because it was an effective pedagogical device to get new practitioners to understand the need to think expansively. Making this official is a mistake. Although Jeff Gomez and Henry Jenkins focus their studies and energy on franchises, franchises are only type of transmedia project. There are tons of different implements of transmedia projects. What about all the transmedia producers for special television episodes that includes the web in a special two-screen experience? Gosh, simultaneous media-usage with TV shows especially created to work with the web or mobile are one of the biggest growth areas in broadcasting. And books with websites or DVDs? The minimum-of-three rule applies to franchises easily, but it shows how little these people know about how big the area is. I hope it won’t be strictly observed.

From an interview last month with Jeff Gomez on the PGA New Media Council blog:

What’s so powerful about transmedia implementation is that it maximizes the potential of your story or message, while both building intense brand loyalty and opening up multiple revenue streams.

The loyalty is derived from giving fans more of what they want from your story: more character background, more story mythology, more opportunities to dialog with the story’s creators and with one another. When you know that Samuel L. Jackson will be playing Nick Fury in the next nine Marvel super hero movies, you’re delighted because this ties that whole universe together. It’s a richer and deeper entertainment experience for the fan.

Revenues may be increased dramatically, because you are furnishing fans with more product. The storylines of major films like The Dark Knight, Wolverine and Watchmen are being supplemented by direct-to-DVD animation releases, each of which are selling quite well. The Watchmen videogame serves as a prequel to the movie and contains “valuable” story developments that fans want to know about. New stories set in the same world are alluring, as opposed to repurposed content, so the products become more attractive and in many cases more lucrative.

For more on transmedia and how it might affect you as a narrative storyteller, check out this piece by Lance Weiler in Filmmaker on extending your story worlds.

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