It was an honor to have Jackie Turnure, Head of Production at Fourth Wall Studios, come speak to us yesterday for this month’s meetup over at USC Annenberg School of Communication & Journalism.
As Head of Production at Fourth Wall Studios Jackie supervises all the production of the studio’s slate, including Rides TV’s flagship project ‘Dirty Work.’ Prior to Fourth Wall, Turnure was the Head of Production and Development at Hoodlum Entertainment, where she produced the “Dharma Wants You,” a multiplatform campaign for ABC’s Lost which won the 2009 Primetime Creative Arts Emmy®. While at Hoodlum, Turnure supervised a number of other projects, including “Join the Mosaic,” an interactive prequel for ABC’s television series FlashForward. Also “Day X Exists,” a global prequel for the release of the feature film Salt (Sony Pictures Entertainment), and Hoodlum’s original multiplatform series “Slide,” a 10 x 1 hour for Foxtel.
Case Study Highlights – Dharma Wants You
When working for a studio, one is more limited in terms of the types of things you can do. You have to keep in mind the branding of the product at all times, and all the restrictions imposed by the studio.
In the case of “Dharma Wants You,” the multiplatform campaign for ABC’s show Lost, Jackie’s team was challenged by the fact that the studio wanted to build buzz about the show between season 4 and 5. However, they were not allowed to work with the original actors, or with the original story canon for the property. They were given a very small budget and a very limited time. Essentially, Jackie’s team was looking at designing a strategy from ground zero.
The result was coming up with a plan to re-brand the Dharma Initiative, and launch a campaign consisting of three parts, starting with an ARG during Comic Con that year.
The most important asset the team had was a deep understanding of Lost’s fandom. They understood what exactly drove Lost’s fans, what kind of audience they were, and how best to tap into their expectations and desires.
They took advantage of the competitive drive of the Lost fans attending Comic Con that year by creating an immersive booth experience that had players experience a test by the Dharma Initiative. Only 300 people were allotted to go through the experience during the Convention, making it a coveted and unique experience. In addition, during the official panel for the property that year, an interruptive performance was the highlight that really gave momentum to the property during the con, generating immediate buzz throughout the fandom.
After the convention, phase two consisted of taking the recruiting test online, which help unlock more background story about the Dharma organization as one went through the different levels of the online experience. By the end of the experience the network not only had compiled an audience ready to jump into the new season of the show, but the show went onto win the Primetime Creative Arts Emmy®. And, while the studio ended up cutting the third phase of the campaign, the team felt reassured that the overall strategy for the campaign really spoke to their understanding of fan behavior and how to design for it.
Case Study Highlights – SLIDE
Slide was a hybrid of sorts. It was a co production between Foxtel Australia and the producers who were invested in having the Transmedia elements be part of the 360 original canon from the very beginning. Jackie’s team over at Hoodlum were in the great position of not only having access to the actors, but the ability to set a production schedule that allotted for the creation of the Transmedia elements simultaneously while in production. It was an ideal and very unique situation, though somewhat costly.
The most important asset the team had was a deep understanding of where the demographic for the audience of the show lived. They were online, on their mobile, and interacting on different platforms simultaneously.
So for Slide, Jackie’s team needed to tell the story of five teens during the last 10 weeks of school. However, they needed to tell the story in an organic manner that would show the flow of all the different platforms and how they naturally pertain to the different characters of the show.
Inherently, the property produced a vast variety of content for fans to explore via webisodes in between TV shows, an interactive graphic novel, blogs, games, twitter and facebook accounts, polls and contests… all materials carefully synchronized with the characters and what they were doing in real time.
The main challenge for the property was product placement, because of the nature of the IP. Also, because of the way all the content was in synch with what the characters were doing in real time, the show format was geo locked. And while the producers of the show are looking into selling the property and all its transmedia elements to different territories, there are many inherent logistics that make for a complex transaction.
Case Study Highlights – Dirty Work
Dirty Work is an original IP produced by Fourth Wall Studios with its new proprietary platform called RIDES. The platform works as a re-playable engine that allows audiences to go back and experience properties that are developed and built specifically to be consumed in multiple platforms.
In the case of Dirty Work, the driving platform is the Rides Hub, which works as a TV portal. In addition, the content is prompted to be consumed in a matrix of different media channels including phones, behind the scenes virtual cards, email, messaging, facebook and twitter profiles, etc.
The most important thing to consider when building a Transmedia property from the ground up is to know who your audience is. However, it is of vital importance to also know where the brand money can come from, after all this is a business.
Nonetheless, you must also consider, that in order to fuse these two together with innovative technology (that hopefully can be licensed soon!) one must always go back to the story and consider new ways of dimensionalizing the property. Like, for example, setting something in a platform that is only paid off in another platform.
One of the main challenges that team faced with Dirty Work was to make sure to keep up with the needs of different screens. This is the main reason why the team decided to move away from Flash and into HTML5, just to make sure all the content can be consumed by all audiences in any one particular device.