I’m covering a few lectures we’ve had to date in this post, since I’ve decided this will also be a journal of sorts on what I’m learning over the next few months, until it starts making sense in my professional life. It’s also one way to keep class material accessible given I have a metal cabinet full of paper that I’ve not looked at again over the years and I don’t want that to happen here.
We’ve covered branding and blogging and some basic differences between the two. Blogging at its most basic is a diary, and a way of broadcasting beliefs, vital information and/or opinions. Think back to the days when a man (or woman) on a soapbox would hold forth at Hyde Park to the crowd, only now we call it blogging. Or Vlogging. Or Vine, Facebook, Tumblr, Youtube and more. They all represent a continuum of information (about yourself or your passion project) that ranges from content heavy (a standard blog) to the micro (Twitter, FaceBook or Vine). Blogging in itself isn’t multi-platform, but a blog can be part of a multi-platform narrative. Confusing, much?
Random incidental fact: teenagers go directly to Youtube to get information and then Google, second. I’m still digesting what that means for the future of serious information.
The precept that a story has a beginning, middle and end holds true for Multi-platform drama or documentary as it does for TV and Cinema. But there are a few key differences that I’m still working through, one being there’s a life cycle that needs to be decided on, whether its going last as little as a week or as long as three years. The story is released over a few platforms and they’re all tailored to the platform itself. Meaning you’ll get a different experience on your phone app than you would when it’s broadcast on TV or Youtube (or released in cinema). But they’re all part of the same story, not just hacked up pieces of a chocolate bar given out. A nice analogy that came up in class is that the same piece of music can be played on different instruments, but your experience of the music will be altered depending on whether its a cello or a flute.
So, back to this class fail that has been occupying me, we paired off to find and present to class a narrative multi-platform drama, and somehow we got steered off course getting caught up with Anna Akana. She is a comedienne who publishes a Vlog each Monday morning and so happens to have a huge following. She’s savvy and connected on a number of platforms, FB, Tumblr, Twitter and has her own Youtube channel. She’s mildly funny. Maybe even, rather average, with clear aspirations to great celebrityness. (not a real word but it sums it up) But she sure works hard on all her fronts. In spite of her prolific output there is hardly anything personal on her, and so she remains curiously bland. She is her product and the product is her. What’s behind it? No idea.
But I’m intrigued that she’s built that big following when there are quite a few narrative multi-platform comedies that fail to do the same. After all they are on the same platforms, gunning for the same slice of the audience.
Stating the obvious I know they occupy different niches but… Anna’s not doing a Vlog. (Like a blog but to the video) She’s doing skits. Comedy routines. So why isn’t something like, say The Strange Calls recently done by ABC not having any of the same kind of impact? (perhaps being not funny is part of it, but still). The Strange Calls feels like an unweildy bag of stories carrying a hangover from classic TV serial production. I would argue that’s one reason why this particular comedy drama lost its way with the multiplatform audience. There’s also no easy way to share the videos – at first glance it seems you have to go to the designated site to view it every time rather than being able to share it on other platforms. That’s another way to alienate potential fans.
Even if I totally got why our tutor’s eyes glazed over when we presented Anna Akana to the class I was still intrigued by what it was that intrigued me about her. Now I think I’ve got a handle on it. Despite the lack of personal depth, you get the feeling you’re a privileged audience member. She’s making the most of an approach that’s engaging todays audiences and it’s that particular style that’s going to be honed and developed with greater success for small budget narratives.
And these successful multi-platform narratives are already happening – as I’ll show in the next post on The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. I can’t wait to get my little sister hooked on this one. Like me she’s a rabid Austen fan but I doubt she’s heard of this one.