John and I were whisked off to the Bridging Media conference this morning thanks to PR queen (and fellow West End resident) Colleen Coplick. Upon our arrival at the Hanger (which really is a hanger… big huge loading doors, lack of sufficient power sources and heat) I ran into Kris, Darren, and of course organizer Megan Cole. It’s great to see these important players at these events, and it’s always nice to hear them speak on topics in which they are all well-versed.
We’ve just been informed that in order to power the screen behind the presenters the coffee maker will need to be turned off. I’m currently running on 47% battery life so hopefully I can boost that during a break sometime soon.
The speakers/panelists are sat in the middle of the room, in a casual semi-circle, with a comfy looking leather ottoman between them. We’re just waiting for a) some power and b) some wifi so that I can post this, then we’ll get underway.
First panel is Broadcast and Social Media 101: A Snapshot of Both Worlds
“This session is intended to act as an overview of both communities to help create an understanding of each industries’ process. This panel will consist of Broadcasters, Producers and Digital Media Leaders”.
Kate Trgovac – President, Lint Bucket Media (social media and co-creation) – OneDegree.ca
Kris – President, Raincity Studios – Drupal community development, working with big name media companies.
Leah Mallen – Producer, Twofold Films Inc.
Gary Marcuse- Programming Executive for the CBC in BC
Leah is up first speaking to how the government of Canada is supportive to media and film with many programs and grants, but how do you actually build a business around your productions and content? Going viral to getting licenses, subsidization, tax credits etc.
Television is driven by its audience and reality TV is taking over, but there are now initiatives to find more content online or it’s even driving people back into movie theatres to watch things like documentaries. Leah discusses the challenges, hurdles, rights management etc. when you are a producer of branding entertainment.
Kate chimes in to say the storyteller and the audience is moving away from broadcasters with things like YouTube and AppleTV, so how do broadcasters get their content out to these audiences if no one actually turns their TV on to watch the CBC?
Gary addresses the fact that broadcasters are faced with many issues especially now that anyone can start a television station on the internet. So how do you reach out and try to do other things and find an audience using a digital media platform?
Kris chimes in about JPod after Gary mentioned it as a television show, and if you didn’t already read on the web, the series based on Douglas Coupland’s book has been canceled from TV. Gary brings up the challenge of funding to get things like this on TV versus the web, and that they simply didn’t have the TV audience.
Kris’s point is “why did they even put it on TV in the first place”?
“The people that want to watch that show don’t watch TV”. It should have been kept online, viral, and if they would have launched a campaign online instead, it would still be going and we’d have new episodes.
The discussion moves back to Gary who discusses providing an interesting and entertaining, interactive online experience (something the CBC is trying to achieve). “It’s the story that drives the content.” Focus on stories, pitch us an idea and well try to get you funding or offer grants.
Kate says that anyone who wants to tell a story online, has done so, with many options available. “It’s about choosing the technology that will enhanced your story.”
Gary says it’s not all about the creative aspect, you also have to consider licensing, which Leah also speaks to. “They’re giving us the seed to get our content developed but then they take the license.” It’s more like seed money from investors, says Kate which Leah agrees is a new way to go for producers.
Kris uses AskANinja as a case study – guys who started a podcast in their basement, grew an audience, got some advertising but couldn’t find a way to get success with broadcasters or studios, until they finally got a deal with FOX who eventually produced DVDs of their old episodes, distributed t-shirts, merchandise etc. and now they’re prospering.
Megan, “what does someone like Leah (a producer) do then?” You need to be innovative, you can’t go back and ask for different funding based on the way new media is changing. Leah says we can’t simply rely on the government in Canada for this funding like film and music do as they haven’t yet moved into the web content realm.
Most of the discussion comes back to the point of, it’s all about storytelling. Anyone can be a storyteller but how do you open it up and actually move it forward with funding. Leah, “I don’t like that anyone can do it cause then I’m subjected to a bunch of crap.” Kris rebuts immediately with, this is exactly what he LIKES about new media, the fact that anyone can do anything and you don’t have to be a professional – there are so many gatekeepers that can filter this content for producers, which makes it a better experience as an audience member.
Kris also brings up how CNN is embracing citizen journalism – going on YouTube, mobile phone videos, photos and audio etc. It’s still a new way to filter and grab the best ideas it’s just that you’re getting more and it’s reaching outside of the normal “traditional” scope. However it seems traditional producers just think that creates tons of content that isn’t up to par, and that needs to be sifted out.
Update: I now have wifi access but I don’t know the password so photos will have to come later – sorry!
From the audience, we need to move away from needing to be culturally relevant and the stories that need to be told and simply entertaining. However, time is up and the next session will soon be starting. I have wifi AND power so stay tuned for the next post.