I'd like to talk a little bit about the Transmedia Artists Guild. Aside from our first public statement at ARGfest and the somewhat spartan website, there's not a lot of information out there, but a lot of people are very curious about what we're planning.
Let's start by talking about where the idea came from. During SXSW, a group of us got to talking over ice cream about some of the problems affecting professionals in our field. Isolation, for one; also difficulty in establishing credibility, missing industry standards for getting credit for our work, and the lack of a really good fit in other, existing professional associations.
I'd be all over the transmedia producer credit at the PGA, but... I'm really not a producer. The SFWA wouldn't have me, as things stand now. And while the IGDA has long tried to foster a professional ARG community, there are difficulties with that home for the broad sweep of transmedia. A lot of great transmedia works aren't fundamentally games in any sense.
And at the same time, there are some things you just aren't going to be comfortable talking about in a public venue like, say, the ARG SIG list. Not even because of our counterproductive habit toward secrecy -- if a client listens to your carefully constructed pitch, turns you down, and builds your project with an in-house team, that's something you probably won't be comfortable talking about in public, but it is useful information for other pros who might be thinking of pitching that same client, right?
Keeping It Simple
So! TAG! Where do we stand? Well, first up, we're starting small. It's easy to ramp up in complexity, and over time we expect that will inevitably happen, but for now, we're keeping everything as simple as possible. We're trying to establish a legal nonprofit entity, think about who should be represented on our initial board, and establish membership criteria and processes. Very basic stuff.
Next, we'll gradually roll out our big-picture plans: a member-locked forum, a jobs board, best-practice standards for credit, mentoring, resource lists, community awards, etc. But we are a group of unpaid volunteers in a notoriously time-poor profession, so you'll have to forgive us if we aren't springing to life as immediately fleshed-out as other groups. We'll get there, but you have to give us a little time. Starting with a modest set of features makes it more likely we'll get this party started at all.
A Few FAQs
We're not establishing an international organization. Not because we don't love all of our global colleagues! You know we do! But because the legalities of establishing a nonprofit across international borders is simply too big a problem for us to handle right now. If you're interested in creating a sister organization in your country, though, let us know; if and when TAG gets big enough, we'll probably find a way to legally get together under a single umbrella.
TAG is intended to be a professional association, and not a union. We have no plans to institute collective bargaining, standard contracts and pay rates, etc. That's a much bigger pile of fish to fry.
Indie and grassroots creators are welcome in TAG. We definitely do want to represent the interests of independent creators -- we have indie, non-commercial artists among our founders. That said, since this is a professional organization, grassroots projects submitted as part of a membership application will need to be professionally constructed and conducted. This doesn't mean you need to pour money into a transmedia project for it to qualify; but you probably will need to put a lot of time into it.
We want to serve transmedia artists. We're new at this, and we're probably going to make some mistakes along the way. That's life and fallibility for you. But we're trying our very best. If you're a transmedia pro, we want to know what we should be doing to make this organization work for you. Speak up. You can comment on this blog post for now; we'll get an official TAG inbox going a bit later, as we get more organized.
A Personal Note
This is a very ambitious undertaking, and I have to tell you, I'm terrified we're going to get it all wrong. But as a writer and transmedia creator, I've long since learned that the scariest things are generally the ones most worth doing. Let's go out and make it happen.