In this post I will look at how traditional TV and film makers are using Storyworld techniques to expand existing story brands into new market areas; whether they are aware of what they are doing stems from Storyworld theory is another matter.
The main Storyworld Development Technique they use is to extend the character’s life beyond the events of the hit movie or book. Basically this is filling in the blanks of a character’s life, much of which may already exist as backstory documents and research.
Arguably the world’s most popular serial killer is Thomas Harris’ creation, Hannibal Lecter featured in the movies, ‘Manhunter’ (1986), ‘Red Dragon’ (2002), ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ (1994), and ‘Hannibal’ (2001). The murderous antics of Lecter are an established story brand; exploitation of his ‘timeline’ or ‘lifetime’ has already led to the movie ‘Hannibal Rising’ (2007). It explored his early formulative years and informed us of how he developed a taste for human flesh. Now Lecter has a TV series that is set before the novel ‘Red Dragon’ and explores the period of time Lecter worked as a psychiatrist.
Big To Small
Adapting big screen stories to the small screen as TV series is a growing trend in Hollywood at present. Using established story brands is a strategy that aims at cutting through the mass of TV material that exists – people know Lecter, Norman Bates and other movie experiences so why not give them more of what they like? Other projects in development include;
‘Zombieland’ (2009) is another movie that is receiving the small screen treatment and is currently being developed for TV.
‘Barbarella’ (1968) a sci-fi hippy trip based on a French comic character, it is currently being developed for TV by Nicolas Winding Refn, director of ‘Drive’ (2011).
‘Psycho’ (1960) has been adapted for TV as ‘Bates Motel’ and explores the story of Norman Bates’ teenage years spent with his mother. Again, a character’s story life is extended beyond the original story (film) time span in order to generate new stories.
Looking at a character’s life and working with it is just one Storyworld Development Technique I use to open up a linear story in order to generate extra story content that can be used in transmedia storytelling strategies.
Exploring the timeline of places is pretty much the same approach as examining and filling in a character’s life but done to locations and environments instead. It is an effective way of giving the Storyworld a sense of place. It helps establish a sense of history that includes past, present and future events. This in turn gives context to the creation of new characters and stories.
The above list of crossover, expand-the-brand, movie-to-TV projects should all have a transmedia strategy up and running and developed as a part of the whole story output. Storyworld is key to this process and is a very powerful way of making the most of your valuable story assets.