(Worknotes are a bit like weeknotes, but not as regular. We’ll publish them when the stuff we’re doing seems to coalesce into thoughts worth sharing)
The Faber & Faber project is halfway through, with an interim presentation of ideas to the Faber team last thursday. I’ve been working with a glittering array of talent on developing ideas for three Faber fiction titles, and the different ideas we’re coming up with for the titles is very interesting, and very surprising. They range from physical objects (there is a tantalising possibility we might press some records, which would please this vinyl junkie no end), audio environments, iterative content distribution strategies, and things that could almost resemble bits of traditional marketing campaigns, if looked at from the right angle.
The first phase of work with the Cashback team has ended, and we now have a much more detailed plan and strategy for how their campaign will work across different platforms. Working on a project about the financial crisis over the last few months has been fascinating, but a bit frustrating, as the news cycle moves quicker than the funding and production of the film itself. This is one of the issue we’re tackling in the Cashback project – how can documentary film move as quickly as the news cycle, and yet still be a coherent story in itself? Documentary and current affairs are not the same as news – they are slower, more reflective forms of storytelling, so a lot of the discussion has been about how the production team can release content regularly, and in response to breaking stories, whilst still focusing on the final cinema film as well.
Storythings has also recently starting working with the brilliant Pulse Films on a music documentary for TV broadcast and possibly cinema release. The challenge with this project is how to create an event around the broadcast/release of the documentary, and engage the artist’s fan base in the project. This involves two current obsessions that emerge in a lot of Storythings’ projects – new attention patterns around content, and the emergence of ‘talent’ as owners of their own networks. It’ll be good to have a live project to explore some of these ideas further.
One of the great things about working across Film, TV, music, web and publishing is seeing that all media companies are dealing with the same problem – attention. This problem has been coming for ages, as digital technologies have eroded previous production and distribution monopolies across these sectors, but its only been in the last few years that all these sectors have had new behaviours emerging at a large enough scale across their markets to see enough data.
So the most important thing Storythings is doing for its clients at the moment is solving attention problems. None of the problems are unique (there’s too much competition for attention, and the patterns of attention are not as predictable as they once were) but all of the potential solutions are very, very different. The only constant is this – nothing will ever be simple again. There will never be a silver bullet platform or strategy that will return us to the stable media environment of the last 50 years – it will only ever get stranger, richer and more complex than it is now, as the shifting patterns of attention around content, talent, social networks and brands continue to combine and feed off each other.
The projects Storythings are making are attention probes – projects that test ideas we have about how people find, engage with and share content, and then give us the data and feedback we need to better understand these behaviours, and make even better products as a result.