Eleanor Coleman • International feature-film sales & co-production, Indie Sales
“The most important thing is to get your story right and to know who you're talking to”
- Indie Sales' Eleanor Coleman, also a mentor at The Pixel Lab, Power to the Pixel, looks at how cross-media storytelling is enhancing traditional TV and film structures
American, Paris-based producer Eleanor Coleman is a pioneer in applying a transmedia approach within traditional TV and film structures.
“Transmedia has gone through a number of incarnations,” says Coleman. “It was this major buzz thing, but now it’s calming down, and we have to figure out how to properly make it work. How do we connect with our audiences and the people who are going to pay for things in a way that really serves the story?”
This is something that Coleman has been grappling with for more than 15 years, firstly at France’s biggest private channel, TF1, where she oversaw production and built the brand of its children’s strand, Tfou, and since 2013 as a freelance consultant.
During her time at TF1, Coleman was instrumental in introducing a 360 approach, building a highly successful dedicated website for Tfou and encouraging cooperation between the production and advertising teams to create new revenue streams.
“We produced a custom-made show every day and slowly built the ‘go-to brand’ for kids in France within TF1,” says Coleman. “The website was incredibly successful, making more money than TF1.fr for a time. We were a very small team, and because we were able to work closely with the advertising department, we could create really successful campaigns.”
Today, Coleman works with Paris-based Blue Spirit Studios, makers of several popular children’s animation series, Argentine transmedia director Paula Schargorodsky and French feature-film sales company Indie Sales, scouting for animation and transmedia projects as well as with the highly anticipated stop-motion animation feature My Life as a Zucchini. The latter outfit was voted Best European Distributor at the Cartoon Movie meeting in the French city of Lyon at the beginning of March.
Coleman made her debut transmedia acquisition for Indie Sales earlier this year, Dofus Book 1: Julith, a feature spin-off of cult fantasy online game Dofus, produced by French company Ankama.
The game, played by more than 40 million people in 150 countries, has also spawned a successful children’s TV series as well as books and a line of soft toys, stationery, T-shirts and posters.
“We’re pushing distributors to get involved in a transmedia project,” says Coleman. “There has been a ton of positive feedback… the idea is that distributors who buy the film will also get into the whole transmedia strategy that is being used to roll the film out. What’s really cool is that there is stuff in the film that will be teased in the game.
“Say the film is pre-sold in Colombia, where the game is huge, and the distributor decides to release the film in August. We can say to Ankama, ‘What can you do in the game to push more people to the movie?’” she explains.
It is rare for a mainstream European film sales company to work on a transmedia project, but Coleman says it makes sense as a strategy.
“We’re bringing together a really, really good film sales team and a really, really good transmedia project. As a sales guy, Indie Sales co-founder and owner Nicolas Eschbach wants to know he has something attached to the film to make it sell, whether it’s the cast, director or a director of photography – in the case of Dofus, it’s the transmedia element.”
With Schargorodsky, Coleman is helping to develop her transmedia project Get Over It, which won the €6,000 ARTE International Prize for The Pixel Pitch at the 2013 edition of Power to the Pixel: The Cross-Media Forum.
“It’s a spin-off of her autobiographical documentary film 35 and Single, in which she tried to work out why she was still single,” explains Coleman.
The quirky, interactive project examines the process of getting over a bad relationship.
“It’s a lot of fun, involving a four-part process: go back, understand, let go and move on,” explains Coleman. “You upload a picture related to a break-up. It goes along a conveyor-belt machine and is then ceremoniously dropped into a machine, and then it's planted.”
Coleman will be acting as a group leader at The Pixel Lab.
“The most important thing is to get your story right and to know who you're talking to,” says Coleman. “I bring my experience of working for a major broadcaster and an understanding of how to get a story into the right form to the Lab.
“I'll try to help them figure out what is the key element that is going to make their project stand out for audiences and potential funders, and connect them with the tutors who can help them advance,” she says.
Referring to Power to the Pixel founder and CEO Liz Rosenthal, Coleman adds, “Liz brings such a wonderful variety of people together at the Lab. It forces people to get out of their creative bubble and be confronted with different ideas in a supportive environment providing constructive criticism that can help transform projects, bringing them to fruition.”
Power to the Pixel’s The Pixel Lab development workshop runs from 28 June-4 July and is now accepting entries. The deadline for producers and media professionals to apply is Thursday 26 March at 18.00 GMT. For more information on the programme and to apply, head to the Power to the Pixel website.
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.