In today's penultimate installment of ACG Unabridged, I bring you J.C. Hutchins, podcasting pioneer and master storyteller known for such projects as Seventh Son and Personal Effects: Dark Art. J.C. is the picture of an indie creator building his own fanbase. He's inspirational, energetic, and on top of all that, my god such a good human being. Clearly he has made a deal with the devil.
Here's what I had to cut from his interview for A Creator's Guide to Transmedia Storytelling -- but this is a mere fraction of his wisdom. The rest? Inside the covers of a certain book, on sale now!
Q: Where do you see the art and business of storytelling headed over the next few years?
A: To be clear: There will always be stories best-told through a single medium. Folks need not worry about their novels or movies going away. But I believe transmedia narratives will crack open storytelling in new ways that we’ll be exploring and experiencing for decades.
We’re already at a point where storytellers can economically craft narratives in which their characters can receive and send emails and phone messages from real people (aka consumers), post video blog “confessionals” or handheld location shots, and leave behind “evidence” in real life locations that can be documented and shared online by audience members. What I just mentioned is kindergarten, low-cost stuff that nearly any creator can execute.
The future of storytelling is so bright, and is gonna be so cool.
The true and disruptive potential of transmedia storytelling is that nearly everything around us — your phone, a billboard, a mailed letter, a t-shirt, a Twitter update — can be used to contribute to a cohesive narrative. Your narrative. That’ll blow your mind if you let it. And you should let it, because storytellers need to be thinking about this stuff.
There’s a trade-off, however: When you start adding additional media or channels to tell your story, you start adding time, effort and risk to the project. You also add expense, which can sharply decrease your number of achievable cross-media / cross-channel storytelling opportunities. I reckon this is why the most famous transmedia stories — such as the brilliant alternate reality game Why So Serious? — are funded by mainstream entertainment entities as promotional vehicles for films, video games and TV shows. These stories have many moving parts. You gotta cough up cash for those parts, and for creatives like me to make them go.
This is bonus material from A Creator's Guide to Transmedia Storytelling, in stores now! It's also available from the internet retailer of your choice, including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powell's, and others. Pick it up and let me know what you think!