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MIPTV Theme 3: Trans-media Storytelling

April 24, 2010 Leave a comment

Facebook, twitter, mobile phones and the web are increasingly becoming part of the stories that television once told exclusively. Whether this manifests itself in games that call you to give you clues or TV shows that extended into online clips and episodes, the trend is rapidly evolving with many experimenting with different media. Trans-media story telling was the key theme in Tim Kring’s (the creator of Heroes) keynote and a common theme for several sessions.

For TV producers, this means a rethinking of the creative and production process to consider multiple platforms for the story at the development stage of the process and not after shooting is done. This requires new skills within the production team, new commercial relationships with advertisers to support off-screen content, and new marketing tools to engage viewers.

Trans-media story telling promises to turn the passive audience of TV into an engaged audience.

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MIPTV Theme 1: “The Connected Audience”

April 24, 2010 Leave a comment

You would have been forgiven if, in the first fifteen minutes of Kevin Slavin’s MIPTV session, you wondered whether you had strayed into a psychology and biology seminar. The CEO of gaming company Area/Code spent a considerable amount of time discussing the human brain’s functions and in particular, “limbic resonance“. It was an in-depth look at the science that explains why people are in effect social mammals who want to gather and share experiences. The “connected audience” was a theme that ran through much of MIP’s sessions. Examples of how TV and social media are melding included live tweets appearing below the broadcast of President Obama’s inauguration as well as special episodes of MTV’s “The Hills” which superimposed viewer comments onto the scenes and characters on the screen. Area/Code also explored multi-platform gaming, with one example being web players tracking real sharks with GPS transmitters attached to them. Along with the technological convergence of viewing devices, this trend promises to recreate the social satisfaction of sharing a viewing or gaming experience with others.

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Abu Dhabi Drama is born

April 5, 2010 Leave a comment

Drama has proven time and time again that it attracts audiences, and with that in mind, ADMC launched the Abu Dhabi Drama channel on April 4th. It is an interesting foray for us in the direction of thematic (non-sport) television and we’ll be monitoring it closely. The channel, in addition to offering a continuous menu of dramas,  has a no-commercial break policy (during episodes) and back-to-back double episodes that will allow fans to see an entire series in two weeks.

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The challenge of the novel

March 29, 2010 Leave a comment

On March 29th, ADTV announced in a press conference that it will be producing a TV series based on the award-winning novel “Zakirat AlJasad” (The Memory of the Body) for ramadan 2010. The novel was published in 1993 and went on to win the Naguib Mahfooz prize and sell several million copies (which is no mean feat in the Arab world).

Converting a successful work of print into a television drama will not be easy. We certainly have a great team on board with the writer Ahlam Mustaghanmi, director Najdat Anzour, the scriptwriter Reem Hanna, and the actor Jamal Sleiman. It took a long time to get this project off the ground and I hope it will help bring an intense story to television audiences who are mostly used to lighter fare. The work will also be in classical Arabic, a departure from the current and past dubbing fads but the only choice that will do the poetic original justice.

Every reader will have developed their own visualisation of this novel and it will certainly be impossible to please them all. More importantly we hope to bring this work to millions who have not read the book.

There was a humorous yet poignant point made by the writer Ahlam Mustaghanmi: Shortly after she published her novel, she was interviewed by a magazine. They published a three page article, but readers started sending in inquiries because they couldn’t identify the book being discussed. It turns out the magazine censors had erased the word “body”, found in the book’s title, every time they came across it!

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Original socialising

March 25, 2010 Leave a comment

A guy in Charlotte, with a crowd, a piano, and Chatroulette running on his laptop. Great way to turn a two way communication into a live event. Youtube video here.

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Great content needs development time

March 19, 2010 1 comment

In April, Abu Dhabi Al Oula will begin to broadcast a weekly series called “3ard khass” or “special exhibit”. In my opinion, this series will set a new standard in quality for a drama series produced in the Arab world. Its story revolves around five young people trying to succeed in the media world. Not only is it cinematographically far superior to any other work of Arabic fiction out there, but I was particularly impressed when it was first pitched to me how much effort had gone into character development, story arcs and plot lines. In an age where most Arabic series are pitched via a fairly generic half page synopsis followed by an all encompassing list of potential leading actors, the level of thinking and detail devoted to the development of the 3ard Khass script was refreshing.

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