Not the most concise title but I wanted to cover a bit of ground with it. I am leading a week long Multi Platform development residential lab next week in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales with some of the worlds leading mentors and Australia’s top projects – all linked to Screen Australia. This is followed by a one day seminar in Melbourne called ‘Idea to Market’ and top and tailing all of this, I have taken up the Executive Producer ABC Multi Platform TV role. More on each coming up.

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Intensive Clinic

As you know last year I founded StoryLabs, a global transmedia IP development network, with 3 other individuals in Canada, US and UK. Then, new format funding body, Screen Australia who were looking for a very practical, production orientated rapid development structure for their Digital Ignition initiative, looked to StoryLabs.

Screen Australia has engaged transmedia collective StoryLabs to direct the first workshop, under the guidance of its key founder Gary Hayes. He is recognised as one of the foremost digital thinkers. An award-winning multi-platform producer, author, educator and director. The founding director of global multi-platform training initiative StoryLabs he has recently become Exec Producer of ABC Multi Platform TV. He was the director of AFTRS’s LAMP program for 5 years, was Senior Interactive Development Producer at the BBC for 8 years, and was a Social TV Producer in the US. Gary has designed and lead multi-platform/transmedia courses internationally and in Australia with AFTRS and Metro Screen. He also runs MUVEDesign (creating story based augmented reality, virtual worlds and transmedia) and the influential media and marketing site PersonalizeMedia.. Gary will be supported by up to eight high-calibre international and domestic experts.

“The Digital Ignition Multi-platform Clinic falls within the suite of support offered through our All Media Program, which seeks to ignite and strengthen digital understanding, expertise and activity within the Australian screen content sector,” said Screen Australia Investment Manager Mike Cowap. “We’re thrilled to be working with Gary and his StoryLabs network to make this as rich and practical a workshop as possible.”

Founder of StoryLabs Gary Hayes said, “We’ll deliver a highly structured program focused on all the important practical topics, including storytelling, user experience, design, technical, business and marketing. We’ll be using case studies and tried and tested exercises to hone participants’ processes, and ensure they leave with a tangible ‘bible’ and clear list of next steps for their project to get it off the ground.”

Inspiring Gurus

Next was to find eight top mentors from around the globe and closer to home. I selected mentors who between them would cover Story, Functionality, Community, Games, Tech and Business. A tall order but we have a great mix of experienced mentors who are also industry creatives.

Screen Australia is thrilled to announce the mentors for its upcoming Digital Ignition Multi-platform Clinic, including renowned pioneer Lance Weiler(US) on his first trip to Australia, whom WIRED magazine named “one of 25 people helping to reinvent entertainment and change the face of Hollywood”.

The team of mentors will join StoryLabs director Gary Hayes for a five-day residential workshop running 21–25 November in the New South Wales Southern Highlands. The purpose of the clinic is to enable selected teams to develop a multi-platform production strategy and roadmap for their experiential film, television, interactive or game project.

Other mentors include Matt Costello (US), writer of ground-breaking and award-winning novels, games and television; writer and producer David Varela (UK); and story executive, writer and producer Neil Richards (UK).Laurel Papworth, one of Australia’s leading social media experts; Jennifer Wilson, Director of the multi-platform media company, The Project Factory; and creative director, producer, visual and new media artist and curator,Anthea Foyer (Canada), and Tony Reed CEO of the Game Developers’ Association of Australia will also join the mentoring team.

Tracking Ideas

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The next even harder job was to choose eight of the best projects from around Australia that inspired the mentors and Screen Australia but also would benefit from the Clinic. We had a really tough time choosing only 8 projects from the 50+ quality submissions – but got there.

Screen Australia and StoryLabs today announced eight compelling screen projects for the inaugural Digital Ignition Multi-platform Clinic, a week-long workshop designed to support the development of production-ready multi-platform strategies. With the help of world-renowned mentors, participants will lock down the projects’ story worlds, business potential, community and audience focus, interactive functionality and technology. The projects represent a broad range of screen content including feature films, television drama, interactive documentaries and games.

Feature film projects selected include These Final Hours, an apocalyptic thriller from WA writer/director Zak Hilditch and producer Liz Kearney, and The Babadook, a psychological horror film from NSW writer/directorJennifer Kent and producer Kristina CeytonThe Lost Boys is a youth-oriented TV drama series from powerhouse producers Matchbox, with writer Craig Irvin and multi-platform producerJulie Eckersley attending.

Two interactive documentary projects have been selected, including The Hive a native transmedia project comprising a serious game and documentary about the hidden codes of human cooperation, originated by writer/director Annamaria Talas (How Kevin Bacon Cured CancerThe Hobbit Enigma). The project will be produced by Simon Nasht of Smith & Nasht (Dick Smith’s Population Puzzle), working with digital outfit Moonshine Agency and US serious games guru Edward Castronova. Also selected is the interactive documentary Cave, a story of science and discovery in Australia’s most remote caves, from WA producer Danielle Gilles and her team working with the Museum of Western Australia.

Finally, the line-up includes three game-oriented projects: Double Happy Versus the Infinite Sadness, a story-driven adventure game and full transmedia entertainment property from Adelaide-based digital agency MonkeystackByrax, an animated online comedy series and game from Queensland animators Studio Joho, creators of internet sensation Dan the Man; and The Eventide, a sci-fi interactive entertainment using augmented reality involving three senior staff at digital agency Loud & Clear.

“Each of the mentors contributed to the selection of this great mix of projects, which have their foundations in feature films, games, documentary and social multi-platform stories,” said Clinic Director Gary Hayes, Co-founder, StoryLabs. “It’s a great opportunity for the participants to get deep consultation from this mentor team, and StoryLabs looks forward to helping move them and Australian multi-platform production to the next level during the event.”

Seminar: Transmedia – From Idea to Market

While the top international and national mentors are here and in sharing mode we decided to run a one day special seminar for a wider general audience in Melbourne.

The seminar will provide case studies and practical guidance on creating multi-platform strategies for features, TV drama, documentary, game or online projects. Taking a primary project across multiple media platforms enables creative productions to connect with a wider, more involved audience and be more commercially viable. But to develop a single story idea across devices, channels and communities requires an intensive creative process, knowledge of the landscape, and complex production management.This one-day seminar cuts through the noise to focus on the core aspects of delivering multi-platform projects, including story, business, community, technology, interaction and design, to help practitioners take their idea from page to screen.

Speakers and Topics

  • Lance Weiler (US) will keynote the seminar with Story R&D, looking at long-term, sustainable production. Lance is the creator of some of the world’s most original cinematic transmedia projects, includingHead Trauma and Pandemic, which was selected for Sundance Film Festival’s New Frontiers.
  • Games, film and novel writer Matt Costello (US) has game credits including Pirates of the Caribbean 3Doom 3 and The Italian Job. He will case study his story in the game Rage to demonstrate practical ways of developing cross media intellectual properties.
  • TV and Alternate Reality Game producer David Varela (UK) will look at his successful Sony Xi, Perplex City and Lewis Hamilton: Secret Life projects on how to meld story to platforms and users.
  • Creative director and producer Anthea Foyer (Canada) will present case studies of her recent projects that demonstrate how to develop user interaction and create loyalty against film and TV properties. Anthea recently directed The Conversation, an interactive companion to the feature film Take This Waltz starring Seth Rogan andMichelle Williams.
  • Tony Reed (Australia), CEO of the Game Developers’ Association of Australia, will speak on the process of design, consumer testing and commercialisation of game-based services. Tony has been behind the marketing of some of the world’s biggest game franchises, includingCommand & Conquer and Star Trek titles.
  • Laurel Papworth (Australia), CEO of Community Crew and named byMarketing magazine as Industry Head, Social Media, has set up and managed online communities including Junior MasterchefMiddle East Broadcasting and Everquest. She will case study some of her work to demonstrate how to manage, grow and monetise communities through platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.
  • Game and TV writer and story executive Neil Richards (UK) will speak on writing and developing functionality on multi-stakeholder projects including Nightmare High for broadcaster Channel 4. Neil has worked with the BBC and ITV, co-wrote Starship Titanic with Douglas Adams, and has written over 20 games including DriverJust Causeand The Da Vinci Code.
  • Jennifer Wilson (Australia), director of the multi-platform media company The Project Factory, will explore the range of sustainable digital business models for your projects, drawing on her experience that includes Making Australia Happy for ABC TV and China Heart.
  • Gary Hayes (Australia) is the founder of StoryLabs and newly appointed Exec Producer for ABC Multi-Platform TV. He will chair the event and also present aspects of his Screen Australia Transmedia Production Bible.

Tuesday 29 November 2011, State Library, Melbourne, Tickets cost $50; available here:

Executive Producer ABC Multi Platform TV

Finally, back in late August and in the middle of a very busy time I decided to pop along to the ABC here in Australia and look at a role they were filling. I was keen to take on this challenging role and jumped in. Obviously now being part of the ABC machine I can’t voice strong opinions about the role or project/process secrets – but needless to say it is a busy coalface, production, multiple project and people management role. There is a sprinkling of innovation too, and I am tasked with developing key ‘new form TV’ strategies and roadmaps for the next few years. I am looking forward to moving into 2nd gear in the role after the StoryLabs events are over at end Nov.

So all in all interesting times. My current challenge – balancing a working online broadcaster’s ultra-practicality while running a project lab process where the production goals are likely to be much more complex. Nothing new for me there then.

Finally, Finally as an appendix – more about the Digital Ignition Clinic Mentors here

LanceLance Weiler (US) is recognised as a pioneer in mixing storytelling and technology. Businessweek named him “one of the 18 who changed Hollywood” alongside the likes of George Lucas and Steve Jobs. His films include The Last Broadcast andHead Trauma, around which he also made an acclaimed ARG (alternate reality game), and an online documentary series, Radar, which was nominated for a Streamy Award. In 2011, Lance’sPandemic, an immersive storytelling project, was an official selection in the New Frontier section of the Sundance Film Festival. He sits on a World Economic Forum steering committee for the future of content creation, and teaches at Columbia University on the art, craft and business of storytelling in the 21st century. Lance is founder of the Workbook Project, an open creative network, and writes a regular column for Filmmaker magazine on the impact of tech on entertainment.

MattMatt Costello (US) has written ground-breaking and award-winning novels, games and television, including the Pirates of the Caribbean 3 game across all platforms. Rage, a 2011 release from id Software which Matt worked on, won the most Game Critics Awards at this year’s E3, including Best Console Game. Just Cause, (co-written with Neil Richards) debuted as the number one game for Xbox 360 in the UK and was named ‘Best Adventure Game’ at the 2006 E3. Other notable games include: Doom 3Hercules for Disney, The Dark Half for MGM, Derelict for The Syfy Channel, The Clue Chronicles for Hasbro, Barbie’s Riding Adventurefor Mattel, Clifford’s Reading for Scholastic, Starsky & Hutch for Empire, and The Italian Job for Eidos. His novel Beneath Still Waters was filmed and released by Lionsgate, and Penguin/Putnam published his latest suspense novel, Nowhere. His new novel, Vacation, will be published by St Martin’s Press in 2011.

DavidDavid Varela (UK) is a writer and producer who works across a huge range of media. He is currently producing and writing a global ARG sponsored by Reebok and starring Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton. Lewis Hamilton: Secret Life is running in nine languages for eight months, with live events staged in Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Prior to that, David wrote and produced the world’s first console-based ARG, Xi, based in Sony’s virtual world PlayStation Home. David’s background is as an award-winning writer for theatre, radio and advertising. His stageplays have been performed at the ICA, the Royal Court, Hampstead Theatre and RADA, and his short films have premiered in Leicester Square and been broadcast on ITV. He has also written several one-off dramas for BBC Radio 4 and BBC7.

NeilNeil Richards (UK) has story executive, writer and producer credits for BBC, ITV and Channel 4 in drama, children’s and entertainment. Since co-writing Starship Titanic with Douglas Adams in the mid-90s he has worked increasingly in interactive media, scripting children’s iTV, education, broadband and platform games, earning three recent BAFTA nominations, an IGDA Writing Excellence nomination and a Writers’ Guild nomination. He has written more than 20 game scripts including the popular titles DriverJust Cause (1 & 2)Broken Sword and The Da Vinci Code. He has mentored in workshops for BBC, PAL (Media Programme), PILOTS (Media Programme), PYGMALION (Media Programme/Paris/Berlin Film Schools), the Akademie für Kindermedien in Erfurt and Crossover Labs. He was one-time senior lecturer in screenwriting at Bournemouth University. He has also consulted for the BBC as a producer in creative development, devising and running Creative/Interactive Labs across the BBC.

LaurelLaurel Papworth (Australia) has been creating and managing online communities for over 20 years.Marketing magazine named Laurel ‘Head of Industry, Social Media’ for Australia and AdAge named her in the Power150 bloggers globally. She is CEO of The Community Crew, setting up online communities on forums and managing them including Everquest, Ultima Online, Westpac Bank, Junior Masterchef TV show, Middle East Broadcasting (women’s online community), Singapore Military, journalists with The Australian newspaper. She has been running virtual online communities including virtual worlds and forums since the late 1980s. Laurel teaches workshops on online community management, social media press releases, Facebook marketing, increasing your Twitter reach, and social media monitoring and measurement to governments, corporations, small business and not for profits in Australia, New Zealand, Asia and the Middle East.

JenniferJennifer Wilson (Australia) is a Director of The Project Factory – a multi-platform media company. Jennifer teaches courses in multi-platform, trans- and convergent media. She works with emerging leaders across all forms of media to help them understand the connected, networked world. She has authored books and papers aimed at writers and filmmakers covering key concepts, business models, rights issues and new ways of thinking about copyright. Jennifer is a member of SPAA, on the board of AIMIA and chairs the Mobile Industry Group.


AntheaAnthea Foyer (Canada) is a creative director, producer, visual and new media artist and curator. She has created, advised and mentored on a wide range of critically acclaimed projects including graphic novels, online narratives, wearables, interactive installations, participatory theatre, live events, multi-platform experiences and television and film convergence projects. Anthea is currently co-founder, with Alex Mayhew, and Creative Strategist at The Labs, a creative and strategic consultancy that helps to deliver truly convergent properties that transform multi-platform challenges into opportunities for creative and commercial success.

AnthonyAntony Reed (Australia) is a 20-year veteran of the interactive entertainment industry. With global experience in game development and publishing, Antony has been a marketing brain behind some of the world’s biggest games franchises, including Command & Conquer,Baldur’s GateFallout and too many Star Trek titles, and has won numerous awards for his campaigns. In his publishing days Antony worked for industry heavyweights, Virgin Interactive and Interplay Productions, before turning his attention to game development in 2003. Today, Antony is the CEO of the Game Developers’ Association of Australia and is tasked with advocating the interests of the sector to government, educational, financial and commercial institutions as well as heavily promoting Australian game development creativity and talent internationally.

Gary HayesGary Hayes (Australia) is recognised as one of the foremost digital thinkers. An award-winning multi-platform producer, author, educator and director. The founding director of global multi-platform training initiative StoryLabs he has recently become Exec Producer of ABC Multi Platform TV. He was the director of AFTRS’s LAMP program for 5 years, was Senior Interactive Development Producer at the BBC for 8 years, and was a Social TV Producer in the US. Gary has designed and lead multi-platform/transmedia courses internationally and in Australia with AFTRS and Metro Screen. He also runs MUVEDesign (creating branded & story based augmented reality, virtual worlds and transmedia) and the influential media and marketing site PersonalizeMedia.