3 of 3 Part Article
“There is an increasing amount of interest and attention around the idea of ‘transmedia storytelling’ these days because of our increased awareness of converging and permeable media technology boundaries, but humans have always been transmedia storytellers.” Dr. Pamela Rutledge, PhD, MBA
According to writer>digital transmedia strategist Jenka Gurfinkel, our lives are actually a series of Transmedial Experiences, and Transmedial Storytelling is just one of the ways we partner with other to share in the ‘tellin’.
From scratching in the dirt with a stick to shielding our e-book screens against the distorting rays of an afternoon sun, humans have been searching for ways with which to record and share the thoughts, events and imaginations in their lives through a media that would draw the listener and reader into the experience with them.
In the beginning our media was limited to cave walls, large rocks and tree bark. But as the wheel of time rolled forward and our imaginations and experience’s changed, we found ourselves chiseling on stone, scribbling on papyrus and pressing ink soaked blocks of wood on to sheets of paper. Often in an effort to engage as many of the five senses of the reader as possible, these recordings were augmented by beautifully etched pictures, pressed flowers and wax – sealed impressions.
Like oil and chalk, words were used to paint images, recall childhood memories or draw forth the secret longing within the reader’s heart to be that hero, slay that villain or save that damsel in distress.
Through the use of layered media, a reader was invited to go beyond the written word and join the author in a partnership of the mind and senses. For a moment following the last word spoken or the final page turned, the audience was able to feel as though the possibility of living another life was but a word or thought away. The power of storytelling (be it verbal or written) offered even the lowest peasant a chance to be someone other than who they were for however long they could hold onto the imagined experience.
Then suddenly mankind is thrust into the twentieth century where we find ourselves viewing yet another tale or event from a variety of angles, textures and stimuli. What began on the pages of a book moved to the fabric of a theater screen, and from there we were handed tools which allowed us to delve even deeper into the characters we’d just watched through ARG’s like Warcraft, RPG’s such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and in some cases, like Neal Stephenson’s multimedia metaver novel “The Mongoliad”, made a partner in creating alternate story>plot line and endings.
Now instead of voyeuristically imagining ourselves as part of the story from a flat, one dimensional plane of readership, we have been given the opportunity to become engaged in a partnership whereby the ‘tellin’ is a collaboration of transmedial immersion which will bring you and I into a 360˚ storytelling experience. An alternate reality where it is no long one person’s imagination controlling our own.
Even as recent as eight months ago, these experiences were still ( in this literary purist’s mind,) gaudy attempts to try and get people like me to leave our celestial peaks of antiquity and come down amongst the rabble rousers of technology. And without an object shiny enough to rouse my curiosity, I remained immune to their best marketing persuasions.
That is until I came across an article in Wired.com about a young first time novelist named Amanda Havard and her visionary concept Immersedition. The flight out of my mountainous domain was rather faster than I was prepared for and even now I am still applying dressing to my skinned ego and cold compresses to my bruised imagination.
Ms. Havard’s bio reads like most YA author’s who have grown up living with one foot in flat land and the other in the multi dimensional world of their own imaginations. Writing and telling stories from the time she was a little girl growing up in Dallas Texas, Amanda, like so many who have gone before, followed the natural literary progression from budding elementary school author to Vanderbilt University, where she received her MA in childhood education.
In an interview with Sally Schoss (freelance writer for Nashville Arts Magazine), Ms. Havard said that it was while she was on her way to attend a wedding in Tupelo, Mississippi that the idea for her The Survivor’s (a first novel in a five part series) and its immersive transmedial storytelling potential was first conceived.
But in 2008, while pitching to agents her vision of publishing The Survivor’s in a transmedial format that would retain all the appearance of a book, while still allowing Ms. Havard and other collaborator’s to produce a story that would offer the reader an immersive 360˚ experience, she told reporter Angela Watercut that what those agents basically said was, ‘That’s a really cool story you have here and it sounds like a really marketable product, if you could just stop talking about all that other stuff, let it go and realize that you’re not going to have that, sit down, shut up and listen to what they tell you, then you’re going to be fine.’
But according to Ana Maria Allessi, vice president and publisher of Harper Media, due to the speed at which Ebook technology is changing, what Amanda Havard encountered was not a surprise. “That kind of reluctance to adapt and adopt new ideas in e-books is unfortunate, but it’s somewhat understandable. Tablet devices evolve at the speed of light compared to the book industry, in which a single title can take well over a year to produce. Heretofore publishers have been dependent on device makers to support any new ideas they want to execute…. One of the biggest hurdles…is creating something that will work across all devices and platforms. Currently, each enhanced e-book her company wants to put out must be altered to adhere to the specs of the Kindle Fire, the Nook Tablet and the iPad. (Nearly all tablets, however, support the stripped-down “.epub” files used in basic e-books.)
Undaunted in her vision, Ms. Havard, along with her father L.C. Havard (a former executive in the health insurance industry) created Chafie Press, a publishing company whose mission is ‘to reinvent storytelling’ by bringing several collaborators under the same roof. By bringing together a full media studio, Chafie Press book publishing, FPR music recording label, Point of Origin Music Publishing as well as a score of other in house videographers and designers, she was able to bring her dream to fruition.
Add Demibooks (who designed the Immersedition app for iPad, iPhone application) and you now have a revolutionary concept for storytelling that combines an undesecrated screen with immerseive watermarks, that when touched, take the reader to more than 300 pages of history, backstory, character profile as well as ‘written>produced for music>video, fashion, iGoogle maps and interative real time Twitter and Facebook accounts.
In this transmedial evolving reader’s mind, Amanda Havard and Chafie Creative have given a whole new meaning to what it is to ‘do the tellin’ and pass on to yet another generation the ability to give greater depth and dimension to the world around us, and the ones we’ve yet to encounter.
If by the simple touch of a finger, the flick of a wrist and the push of imagination we can now extend ourselves beyond the confines of our known world, how much longer will it be before movies like Total Recall, Twilight Zone, Star Trek and Star Wars have become our past and no longer our future?
From the laptop of an uncensored dreamer,
If you’re an emerging author, established one or just like to read interesting content, feel free to share your thoughts on what you think transmedial storytelling is and how you see it affecting you and the future of ‘Doin the Tellin’