Setting the terms beyond the buzz

By Rosie Lavan

Preparations are well underway for The Pixel Market 2013 and over the coming weeks we’ll be speaking to the sponsors of the four major prizes which will be awarded at this unique annual cross-media event in October.

First, we welcome back Nuno Bernardo, Managing Director of beActive Media and regular collaborator with Power to the Pixel. Nuno has brought his expertise to a number of PttP events in recent years and 2013 is no exception. This year beActive is sponsoring the first Pixel Market Prize for Best Scripted Content. This new prize will recognise excellence in a cross-media genre in which beActive has set the standard ever since the runaway success of Sofia’s Diary, the multiplatform series which took the world’s teenagers by storm a decade ago. The winner will receive £2,500.

Here, Nuno shares his thoughts on the prize, and he explains why finding the right words for cross-media – setting the terms of the trade – will be crucial to the future of the industry.

PttP: The beActive Pixel Market Prize for Best Scripted Content is new this year – could you explain the decision to introduce a prize honouring this kind of cross-media work?

NB: beActive productions are mainly scripted. From Sofia’s Diary 10 years ago, to Collider and Beat Girl released this year, we’ve been developing and producing scripted stories to the new digital audiences. The aim behind this new prize is to promote new and innovative cross-media storytelling.

PttP: What will you be looking for when you award the prize?

NB: beActive is looking for new stories and characters that could benefit from a cross-media approach and be expanded on multiple platforms. The idea is not to look for a good script for a movie or a TV series, but for a good premise and engaging characters that have longevity and the potential to generate spin-offs in the form of books, movies, games, television series and other media.

PttP: Times continue to be tough for the creative industries. What are the main challenges for cross-media today? Are you optimistic about the future?

NB: In my view, one of the major changes we’ll see in the future will be a clear definition of terms and buzzwords so that when we are discussing cross-media, transmedia or multiplatform applications we’ll know exactly what we’re talking about. This is not to say that any one of these terms is incorrect, but we will only be able to effectively promote cross-media and other forms of digital content production and distribution if the industry at large knows what we do. Nailing down our own terminology will help us to show our more traditional colleagues the value of cross-media beyond the buzz. Once we clarify the many different approaches to telling stories using new digital platforms, and the ways in which those platforms can be utilised to enhance audience experience, the establishment will begin to understand the advantages of cross-media’s production and business models.

The second change I anticipate in the future involves the cross-media funding model. Currently, there is some movement within traditional funding institutions; broadcasters, film funds and private equity investors are all adapting to the new world of digital media. Some film funds are already investing in digital content, video games and digital marketing campaigns. Others are developing ‘experimental’ and ‘innovation funds’ so projects that are not based on film or television formats can also benefit from an injection of early stage funding.

Furthermore, future industry leaders should subdivide funding budgets into two categories: intellectual property funding for early stage development of concepts and stories which are not (in their initial stages) aimed at a specific traditional platform; and platform funding which would facilitate cross-media producers in developing products for specific platforms from television shows and feature films, to mobile applications and video games.

PttP: The Pixel Market brings together media professionals from all over the world. How important is that international aspect?

NB: Co-productions and international funding are key in TV and film, as well in cross-media. An international approach to project production and funding allows producers not only to reach wider markets and audiences but also to overcome funding limitations in their own territories.

PttP: One of the things that distinguishes The Pixel Market from film and TV events is the diversity of decision-makers it attracts each year, bringing their expertise and influence from across the industry – leaders in sectors from gaming and live events to advertising and publishing. You’ve watched this truly cross-media event grow over the years, and you’ve contributed to that diversity. Could you say a bit about these meetings of great minds and key players which the Market enables?

NB: The one-to-one market meetings are a key element in the week of Power to Pixel’s Cross-Media Forum in October. For distributors, broadcasters and established producers it’s a nice way to scout new projects and new talent. For new producers entering this space it’s a one-stop shop (and I think the only event of its kind) where cross-media producers can meet not only funders and broadcasters, but also videogames companies, book publishers, internet portals, digital distributors, platforms and many other key partners that can help new projects to connect with an audience.

PttP: beActive has been involved with Power to the Pixel’s work for a number of years. What do you find most valuable – and most exciting – about the relationship?

NB: We’re delighted to sponsor another prize at The Pixel Market. This is becoming the de facto event for the cross-media industry as it’s an opportunity to find new talent and scout new and interesting projects.

The Pixel Market takes place on 16 & 17 October in London. Download an application form here. Application deadline: 1 AUGUST 18.00 BST.

The Cross-Media Forum takes place from 15-18 October. Tickets are available with 10% off until 16 August. Buy yours here.