Bernie Su at Transmedia LA–Monetizing Transmedia Story

Nextspace LA's facility

I visited Nextspace’s Culver City location for a Transmedia LA event last night featuring Bernie Su, Co-Creator and Executive Producer of the Emmy winning Lizzie Bennet Diaries and Emma Approved.

Nextspace is a co-working facility, where you can rent as little as a mailbox and a common area to work in, to a private office for multiple people with access to other co-working facilities throughout California. There’s common equipment and conference rooms you have access to, common housekeeping and coffee, and lots of scheduled startup and networking events scheduled you can choose to participate in or not. The “LA” facility is actually in downtown Culver City, in easy access of reasonable priced parking, great restaurants, and tons of independent art galleries. It’s a great location in a dynamic downtown.

I got a chance to poke around it and look at all the space. It looks like a great place for startups that want to be in a welcoming, supporting environment with reasonable overhead. I would certainly consider it if I needed to be in a professional setting without killing my pocketbook in the beginning phases of a company.

Transmedia LA is a networking group for people who want to tell stories across multiple media formats. They have monthly events, and this was my first time attending. It was well worth it.

The Lizzie Benindexnet Diaries and Emma Approved are modern-day, media savvy adaptations of classic Jane Austen novels. They start with YouTube videos as a foundational story, which you can watch with nothing else and enjoy a story. Then you can “dive” into a whole deeper level of blog postings, Pintrest pages, Twitter interactions and the like for more immersive and more interactive experiences. You get a full experience with the videos; you’re not forced anywhere else to track the story, but you can choose to go further. Su was very insistent that these are value-added options, not requirements to understand what is going on.

And in fact, in July there will be a novelization of the videos which will be a different angle on the entire story, and stand completely alone as a story. You’ll be able to enjoy it if you’ve experienced nothing else of the series. But if you have seen the rest, it integrates into a larger universe of experience. It’s cool stuff.

Su talked about how he gets money from his transmedia projects; a pretty critical part of being able to continue making things. But was I was most impressed with in his presentation, was that everything, even monetization, came back to story. Story, story, story. Yes, he wants to make money; in fact part of his selection of Emma as the source of his next project was the ability to monetize it over multiple content deliver platforms. But every aspect of generating cash needed to be organic to the story, or outside the project.

No one mentionTLA-LOGO-boxs a product name for the clothes they are wearing or items that are the “integrated marketing” in the show. There might be a one line link underneath the video taking you to where you can buy the outfit a character is wearing, but nothing more. Samsung wanted them to feature their new phone, but the only way they’d do it, is by coming up with a *context* for the characters to have a new phone, and use the features of the new phone. If it doesn’t work in a story context, it doesn’t go. And the story isn’t changing to fit marketing product.

He’s shown you can do all the marketing and sales type of stuff you need to not lose your shirt in a project, while not sacrificing story. It can be done. Su has found a way, and he’s the first to say it’s not the only way, just the way he is using for these projects.

It always comes back to story in the good projects; and even in a presentation about making money with your project, I’m reminded that.