Transmedia Hollywood: the creativity of the US content industry in the transmedia era


by Morgan Bouchet, published on 4.05.2012

On April 6, , managing director of Transmedia Lab and VP  Social Media at the Orange Content Division, took part in the panel alongside Denise Mann and . Organised by UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) and USC (University of Southern California) and held at the Annenberg Innovation Lab– USC in Los Angeles, the theme of this year’s event was “Rethinking Creative Relations”.




For several years, USC and UCLA have been working together to examine the impact of the digital revolution (journalism, communication, creating, storytelling, and so on) on the media. Their goal is to decipher trends and evaluate changes and potential risks, but also to develop a range of solutions and technologies. The two universities have become experts in cutting-edge areas like social TV, social networks, transmedia and, more generally, digital communication. It is because of this renowned expertise that we decided to contribute to this work and to forge a sustainable partnership between Orange and USC’s Annenberg Innovation Lab, as we recently told you.

With an approach blending creativity and technology (whereas MIT, another leading player, swear only by digital) and emphasising above all their immediate proximity with Hollywood, the two universities, led by Denise Mann and Henry Jenkins, joined forces three years ago to promote, explain and prepare the industry for the coming technological, creative and behavioural media upheaval.

I had the opportunity to represent Transmedia Lab and share our European take on these radical changes with an audience of media strategists, majors, producers, developers, content service providers, scriptwriters, agents, authors, researchers, students and scriptwriters’ collectives. Over the course of nearly two hours, there was an animated discussion of a single theme: “Creative Economies: Commercial vs. State-Based Models”, or the views of the “rest of the world” on the challenges and economics of transmedia/crossmedia.

Contributing to the discussion along with me were , Director of Universe Creation 101, , Vice-Chancellor of OCAD (Ontario College of Art and Design University), , formerly Vice President Media and Technology of the American Film Institute, and Brazilian producer Jose Padhila.



While the panel was originally due to be moderated by Henry Jenkins (who was hospitalised the previous day but has since improved), he handed the task over to , a strategic consultant with Georgia Tech Institute for People and Technology (IPaT) who focuses on the entertainment sector, identifying emerging technological trends and research topics in order to build relationships with large media companies.

The first session – Realigned Work-Worlds: Hollywood/Silicon Valley/Madison Avenue – was designed to set the tone.

We are entering a period when marketing and content will become invisible. Conventional marketing models aiming for saturation are becoming less and less relevant, especially in the era of social media. Moreover, the arrival of a new generation of content creators armed with new technological tools could force Hollywood, Silicon Valley and Madison Avenue to converge. Is this a sign that a cultural evolution is taking place? Definitely.

We are living through a period of transition, and as a consequence a number of communication issues persist. What’s more, the SOPA law might only accentuate the disconnect between the media, digital and cinema industries, which are struggling to maintain a dialogue. Remember, in the United States, lobbyists for the cultural industries are backing draft laws strengthening the tools used to combat piracy, even if this means authorising outright attacks, and blocking access to some sites, which will affect Silicon Valley players in particular. The media are having fun portraying this as a “Silicon Valley vs. Hollywood” battle, especially in the wake of the MegaUpload affair.

It is clear to me that the creative world will sooner or later have to join forces with the digital sector, but the question needs to be asked: Who should unite with whom? Who should make the first move? Is it up to Silicon Valley to approach Hollywood, or vice versa? Is it significant that the latest edition of « Story World » was held in San Francisco?

Imagine a future scenario where The Voice is written and designed in such a way that it incorporates the activity, reactions, comments and even the audiences of social networks into the very concept of a transmedia storytelling experience, thereby enabling us to follow a single story (concept) written by its “producer-cum-creator-cum-developer-cum-game designer”.



One major question remains to be answered: How can transmedia projects exist? Some of them are very expensive and require robust economic models, which at the very least can turn a profit on the investments made without disrupting the consumer experience.

It would be interesting to define a series of economic micro-models, since a standardised approach makes it difficult to model a suitable revenue source for the wide range of existing concepts.

We will have to take an imaginative approach to developing these models, which may be truly original creations or simply based on existing economic models from other fields. Options include crowdfunding or even advertising. The latter seems particularly relevant in this case, given its connections to the ideas of commitment and creativity which are central to transmedia.

Creators should thus work on Brand Content by getting brands involved and even offering them the chance to create editorial content, or at least influence the existing content. The brand would play the role of an editor and financial partner… (different from Branded Content).



Our panel also aimed to explain how transmedia is developing outside the United States, in terms of creation, finance, business models, services, technologies, and so on.

Morgan Bouchet with Christy Dena, Jesse Albert and Jose Padilha


Introducing Orange, Brazilian producer José Padhila quite rightly cited convergence between “networks” and “content”, illustrated by the example of Televisa (a Mexican TV group which in 2010 bought a stake in a Mexican telecoms operator, and is owned by Carlos Slim, the richest man on the planet).

From Brazil to Canada, Australia or France, everyone shared his vision,  comforting thereby  the idea that we don’t witness a mere fad but an actual paradigm shift for the whole media industry and that current business models will have to evolve.

Some issues and messages to take away from the event:


-         reflect on the notions of platforms and tools


-         the role of technologies


-         what creative business approaches to adopt (e.g. crowdfunding…)


-         the author’s role in the new value chain


-       what position should Hollywood adopt in the face of these challenges, from pure players  in particular


Finally, the panel’s high point was undoubtedly the screening of this video by José Padikla:



“How Brazil Is Reshaping the Futures of Entertainment” is a fairly trenchant vision of the future of the media which features the views of Henry Jenkins.

On this note, I should remind you that Henry Jenkins, the author of “Convergence Culture”, will be appearing alongside Orange Transmedia Lab and Sorbonne Nouvelle at the Centre Pompidou on 25 May from 7 pm to share with us his vision of transmedia storytelling.



- Transmedia Hollywood :

- Annenberg Innovation Lab (USC) : Annenberg Innovation Lab website



Henry Jenkins ( and Blog)

Laurie Dean Baird ()

Christy Dena ( and Blog)

Sara Diamond ()

Nick DeMartino ( and Blog)

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author Morgan Bouchet

VP Transmedia & Social Media - Content Division, he has over 15 years’ experience in integrated communications, marketing & content with digital expertise. In 1997 he joined FKGB agency (TBWA group), a French leader in 360° entertainment communication, brand and content marketing and became manager of the New Media division in 1998. He joined Orange/FT in August 2000 to develop content-related activities as product manager and new content experiences. A member of Xavier Couture’s team since 2008, he develops new business & content activities.