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Posts Tagged ‘media’

The referee steps between Billy Mitchell and Eric Mofford

The referee steps between Billy Mitchell and Eric Mofford

On October 3rd, I gave myself a birthday present and headed over to the E for All Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center.  This event caterers to the video gamers as they compete against each other for prizes and accolades.  I was there mostly to get a better idea of the future of video games, but was surprised and disappointed by how few new games were displayed.  In fact, if one didn’t know better, you’d think the whole industry was now being served by “Guitar Hero” and EA’s “Rock Band.”  Lots of wanna-be rockers holding fake plastic guitars trying to keep up chord progressions on colored frets.  At Unconventional Media, we have a few ideas of how to incorporate the live action style like we did for the upcoming EA release, “Need for Speed:Undercover” into the next generation of these Rock Star games.  In fact, I saw a lot of opportunities to upgrade many of these old video games with interactive storytelling and live action.  It seemed symbolic to run into Billy Mitchell (although, at first, I didn’t know who he was).  He has been documented in the terrific film, King of Kong, as the best player of that old classic video game, Donkey Kong.  He is an icon of the video games of the past, like much of the other games on display.  I was looking for the games of the future.

One of the few things that I did find intriguing was Prototype161.  They’re starting up an interactive online and real world detective game that begins at the end of October.  Hard to know how successful it will be, but I love the idea of taking the game literally “out of the box” and into the streets of the USA.  I’ll be watching this one closely.

That’s the whole philosophy behind Unconventional Media, to combine the best of online, video gaming and traditional media to revolutionize the way these games are designed, developed, and delivered.  We hope to deliver a fresh angle for new entertainment, incorporating movie storytelling into game play.    Like anything new, we are always looking for innovative partners with funding leads.  You got some ideas, I’m real interested.

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I’m seeing more and more “webisode” television and it reminds me of my days in Los Angeles theater.  It’s up there, not as a staged experience or to even just entertain, but as a showcase.  The creator is actually hoping someone will discover their series and put it on Network television.  It’s content for the wrong medium.

In 2002, when I co-produced the documentary series “Senior Year” with David Zeiger for PBS, I also produced a series at KCET, based on the television show for the web.  At the time, our biggest challenge was how to make the series accessible and easy to view on home computers.  I faced those same problems when I presented my political narrative webseries “Unconventional.”  These days we’re past access and viewing issues, but I still haven’t made a dime from any of my webisodes.

I continue to develop webisodes and related content.  I’ve come to believe these two things:

1) that there is too much good free entertainment on the internet to expect anyone to pay for your webseries unless you’re Joss Whedon.

Sorry, but someone sends me a link, I usually take a few moments to see what they’ve created, but not if I have to pay on my credit card or Paypal.  I even hesitate if I have to enter my email and become a “member.”

2) Unless you don’t care about the costs (and this could be because you’re putting up the webisodes hoping to eventually sell the series to television, you know as a “showcase” of your incredible talent) you’ve got to find an advertising sponsor ( see reason #1).

Now, that’s not always easy, but take some time to figure out the marketing of your work.  In a recent issue of Hollywood Reporter, IAC/InterActiveCorp CEO Barry Diller talks about the Web as being in just the early stages of its potential as an advertising medium.  He doesn’t see banner advertising having any real success and believes Video ads will be targeted and interrupt programming, as well as playing before and after the content.  I’m seeing this happen more and more.  I don’t know about you, but as a filmmaker I hate a show being interrupted when I watch it on television and I certainly will hate it on the web, especially if it is my show.  However, if that is what it takes to get the money to produce the programming, then I’ll bite my lip and shut up.

So what’s a solution.  Well, after producing the live action elements to the upcoming EA video game “Need for Speed:Undercover,” I’m convinced that it is a waste of money to make webisodes look and feel like short three-four minutes of regular television.  Instead, it needs to be a whole different form of entertainment, a mixture of interactive gaming, virtual worlds, comedy, music, etc.  The viewer needs to say, “wow, I couldn’t have seen that being done any other way.”  You’ve got to want to stay at the web site and explore.  Then the banner ad does work on the site because it is not ignored but becomes part of the experience.  You can even have a commercial, not in the content of the video, but in the interactive content.  This stuff requires a lot of thought and planning, but I’m seeing some great cross-over.  I think it’s evident on the Need for Speed and Which Road to Take sites.

We’re developing some of these ideas (still very much in development) on the PressPlayMovie site, with ChanneledObsession.com as the marketing portion.  On all these sites, things keep changing so the site becomes more interactive and worth a return visit.  You build on that.  It can’t be just a new episode of television, it’s got to be a bigger experience.

I’m very interested in any other thoughts on these ideas.

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