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REPORT: Cross-Media Forum 2013

by Ernesto Leotta

Bringing together leading international creators and thinkers, The Cross-Media Forum showcased the latest ideas of modern storytelling, audience engagement and business practices

REPORT: Cross-Media Forum 2013

For the seventh year in a row, the BFI London Film Festival listed Power to the Pixel’s Cross-Media Forum among its special events.

Power to the Pixel is a company that supports the film and media industries in their transition to the digital age. The PttP London team, headed by Founder & CEO Liz Rosenthal and COO & Producer Tishna Molla, succeeds everyday at providing consultancy to international media organisations and content creators and facilitating the building of partnerships between audiovisual professionals and industries.

Moreover, the team has established a unique network of leading international digital experts, financiers and talent working across film, broadcast, games, advertising, publishing and mobile, who find this one-of-a-kind forum perfect for gathering and exchanging ideas.

This year’s Cross-Media Forum took place at the BFI National Film Theatre in Southbank, from October 15 to 18 and consisted of 4 different phases.

Starting with The Conference on the first day, where high-level audiovisual experts from around the world introduced the audience to the Transmedia world, the forum moved on to the Pixel Market, a 3 day coproduction market dedicated to discovering and financing the best cross-media projects. A jury of top commissioners and distributors got to know the 8 best projects (out of the 30 selected ones) during the Pixel Pitch Competition on the second day, and only one of the 8 teams walked away with the 6000€ ARTE International Prize. The third day was yet another great opportunity for networking at the Market Meetings, but the Cross-Media Forum’s key moment was, as usual, on the final day with the VIP Think Tank. Hosted by the IPA, the Think Tank 2013 brought together a selected group of company directors, producers, funders, financiers and commissioners to examine ways in which industry business practices should adapt to remain relevant in a rapidly evolving world.

This 360° trip into the Transmedia dimension opened with a welcome speech by Liz Rosenthal, who reminded the audience that learning is only half of the journey: the awareness of being part of a never-seen-before way of storytelling is fundamental, as well as sharing experiences and ideas with others. “Our aim is to encourage new collaborations across industry silos – said Rosenthal – so whether you are participating as a delegate at The Conference or The Pixel Pitch, a Pixel Market participant or a Think Tank guest, we hope that you get to meet new partners and collaborators that make your future cross-media dreams a reality”.

She then moved on to thank the many PttP funders and the 2013 Focus on Canada partners, together with the London Film Festival Director Clare Stewart, who added: “We join this venture [...] because it is now just plain necessary for filmmakers who want to achieve audience reach and impact to innovate, across platforms, with both narrative form and technology”.

The audience attending the various events of the day was made up of almost 400 media professionals and storytellers of all ages, including young talents such as Olivier Lambert, 28, filmmaker and founder of Lumento Films.
Cineuropa had a chat with him about his latest transmedia work Chasing Bonnie & Clyde, written and directed with his partner Thomas Salva.

Olivier illustrated the double nature of the project, consisting of a 90 minutes documentary questioning the criminal justice system in Texas and highlighting the importance of rehabilitation, and an interactive app for tablets where users can drive through Bonnie and Clyde’s world by turning their tablet into a Ford V8 windshield, while a radio plays songs of their time. “Since 2007, because of the Great Recession, the very tough-on-crime state of Texas has decided to change its criminal justice policies a bit – said Lambert - no doubt death row and harsh sentences are still used, but it seems like rehabilitation, re-entry and prevention for criminals, especially the young ones, are cheaper than imprisonment”.

At the Pixel Pitch, the NFT stage was taken over by 8 teams of storytellers, who only had 10 minutes to involve both audience and jury in their projects, in order to get advice and (hopefully!) the 6000€ ARTE Prize.
One of these outstanding 8 stories was netwars – out of CTRL, by the German producer Saskia Kress, whom we had the pleasure to have behind our cameras.

Saskia unveiled her ambitious multi-platform work: netwars is de facto a TV documentary, interactive web documentary, info portal, TV movie/series, graphic novel app, e-book and audio book which explore the impending threat of cyber warfare. “Just one click of a mouse can control air space, free deadly terrorists or release toxic chemicals into the drinking water of millions – says the netwars website logline – You just need the right code”.
We believe that the fact-based perspective of this 7-platform project will mark a world first in terms of Cross-media technologies and viral marketing. For this reason, we asked Saskia about the distribution and financing strategy she adopted for netwars, right before she shared her very own views and lessons learned from this mystical experience called Power to the Pixel.