Class Notes on Digital Media Strategies

As a guest lecturer at UBC last fall for the course “Producing for Film and Television”, one of the classes I led was a discussion on digital media strategies. One thing I have definitely learned over the past year or so is that producers of film and television need to be knowledgeable about creating content for the digital space, whether as an ancillary platform to promote their film and TV projects or as the main delivery platform for their content. (One other thing I learned is that in the digital space things can change quickly and it is important to keep learning!)

In preparation for this class, I made discussion notes on these two areas plus a section on the basics of developing a digital media plan. If you are interested, please read on:

1. Developing Digital Media in conjunction with a film / TV Project

Film or TV show with a website:
• More about branding the show/network and marketing the program
• Purpose is to drive audience to the show
• Not a digital money-maker but more a promotional vehicle
• Plan for video footage, actor accessibility, etc BEFORE you shoot!

Examples:
• Hiccups/CTV – http://shows.ctv.ca/Hiccups.aspx
• InSecurity/CBC – http://www.cbc.ca/insecurity/
• Ice Pilots – http://www.icepilots.com/
• Nature of Things – http://interactive.nfb.ca/#/testtube
• Films – Barney’s Version       Avatar

Digital Media Plan for film or TV:
Components:
• Basic Info – About the show
• Streaming video – trailers, teasers, behind-the-scenes, full episodes, webisodes, mobisodes
• Text blogs
• Viral videos
• User-generated content
• Social networks: Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, etc
• Forums

Funding:
Canada Media Fund – Convergent Stream – http://cmf-fmc.ca/
Bell New Media Fund – http://www.ipf.ca/
BC Film Digital Media Development Fund – http://bcfilm.bc.ca

2. Developing Content Directly for Digital Media

• Developing directly for the web and other digital platforms is a true transmedia experience – telling a story across multiple platforms
• It is not just about re-purposed content

Content/Distribution:
• Website
• Viral video
• Game (stand alone)
• Social game
• ARG
• Mobile app

Distribution:
internet, mobile apps (for smart phones, tablets like iPad)

Funding:
Canada Media Fund – Experimental Stream requires:
Digital media synopsis (themes, subject matter, storytelling)
Target audience
Viewer/user experience
Design and technology
Monetization strategy
Independent Production Fund
Rogers Wireless Mobile Content Fund
NFB Interactive
Other revenue sources: Advertising, Subscription/PPV

Examples:
Emme Rogers
Dancing Matt and the making of Dancing Matt
Gaza Sderot – a great interview on this web doc which you can find at http://gaza-sderot.arte.tv/
For more info on DOC’s Reboot program:   http://docspace.ca/reboot
50 People One QuestionHalo2 PS

3. Designing a Digital Media Plan:

One of the best sources I found that provides a valuable framework for approaching digital media plans is The Primer, a handbook designed by Zeroes to Heroes Media and funded in part by the Canadian Media Production Association. (UPDATE: The Primer was posted on the Z2H website as of last fall but has now been taken down pending a revised and updated version.)
The Primer – http://z2hmedia.com/blog/primer/

Its main points are worth outlining:

Start with setting goals that are specific, meaningful, measurable and attainable

Translate these goals into a viable game plan that will help ensure you reach your goals. As The Primer notes, you are probably going be considering some of the following:
• – Social networking frameworks
• – Crowdsourcing applications
• – Mobile content
• – Casual games
• – Third-party platforms like Facebook
• – Customized apps for the same
• – Social media extensions
• – Mechanisms for users to generate content

Understand your audience and define the optimal user experience appropriate to your project. Do your research!

Don’t be overwhelmed by the technology and platforms but make decisions that are in line with your goals.

Be aware of funding options and requirements to help finance your digital plan.

Find out how to blend in-house expertise with outsourced partnerships.

Do post mortems and learn from them.

Ultimately the more time spent at the beginning in terms of setting goals and determining a strategy will save you time and energy in the end.

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