Three years ago, the Producers Guild of America approved a set of credit definitions for new media producers that was groundbreaking. For the first time, a professional entertainment guild had codified the roles and responsibilities for a raft of new media producer titles for areas that include, among others, broadband/web series; mobile; videogame; DVD/Blu-ray Disc; special venue, and transmedia. The full list can be found at: http://www.producersguild.org/?page=coc_nm
It was this last title, transmedia producer, that captured enormous external attention, with Deadline Hollywood Daily and Variety having been served advance notice, and helped legitimize transmedia as a producerial entity. This attention was certainly welcome news for the PGA New Media Council, one of the three councils that comprise the guild, and the group that actually created the new media producer role definitions. What took 2 ½ years to gain PGA board-level approval was now official.
The definition of a transmedia producer by the PGA also helped codify what had become a buzz word, and ascribed to people who had grand, if even somewhat daft, ambitions to create worlds that touched multiple platforms. Suddenly, independent producers who wanted to pitch larger projects found “transmedia producer” a good tag. And then, overnight, they were suddenly validated by the PGA. Just months after ‘Avatar’ had hit movie screens worldwide, and blockbuster franchises were slowly realizing the benefit of transmedia production, the guild’s definition was well-timed.
To many who had thought the definitional wars ended with “cross-media producer,” transmedia producer was curious. But, as with all things content-related, the movement of major players such as J.J. Abrams, James Cameron, and others had sown the seeds for a major thrust into acknowledging that audiences are smarter, more voracious, and far more interested in the canon of a story than, well, many of the original producers might be.
At the forefront of the work that codified the first industry-wide definition of a transmedia producer was Jeff Gomez, CEO of Starlight Runner Entertainment, the leading developer of transmedia narratives for the likes of Hasbro, ‘Pirates of the Caribbean,’ ‘Halo,’ ‘Avatar,’ and many other major properties. Jeff’s transmedia workshops inside the guild – from 2007-2009 – galvanized hundreds of members to start thinking about transmedia as a way forward, into the brave new media world. Among the more prominent PGA members to have learned from Jeff’s transmedia vision is Gale Ann Hurd, executive producer of ‘Walking Dead’ on AMC Networks, whose show employed a novel Twitter integration.
Another PGA member, Amy Jupiter, currently with Walt Disney Imagineering, and a leading animation and special effects producer, said, “well, we always knew that there was this methodology out there that embraced narratives across multiple platforms, and we jokingly referred to it as ‘Fred.’ Well, now we now that ‘Fred’ is transmedia!”
For the full PGA definition of the roles of a transmedia producer, go to: http://www.producersguild.org/?page=coc_nm#transmedia