Don’t emulate TV: Hoodlum

Nathan Mayfield, co-founder of Emmy-winning Brisbane-based transmedia company Hoodlum, warns screen creatives not to emulate TV formats and storytelling when working on cross-platform projects.

“Don’t try to emulate TV across those platforms, but emulate audience behaviour. Using your storytelling skills, how do you tell those stories in the way that people use that technology? What does a story look like if it’s told not on television, but online, using social media, iPhone apps, Facebook?” Mayfield told Encore.

Mayfield is one of Australia’s most successful transmedia storytellers, and an advocate for the use of cross-platform to extend a project and its audience – participating at events like the recent X Media Lab: Film Extended in Melbourne.

Hoodlum was established in 1999, and it was the work done for British broadcasters (Spooks for the BBC, Emmerdale for ITV) that gave the company the international notoriety that led to big projects in the US, for ABC’s series Lost and Flash Forward.

Few Australian shows have had that kind of cross-platform component, although Mayfield says things are changing and Hoodlum is in discussions with the commercial broadcasters.

“In the last year, there’s been digital everywhere. Everybody is looking at new commercial models, and everybody is talking about how to capture or retain their audiences around their shows. They’re on the right track, and they’re looking for opportunities to do this, but ultimately it’s always going to be a question of scale and volume – the numbers that they can attract, and obviously, the dollars, the business model behind it.

“We have lots of projects with the ABC – including Dance Academy – and we’re talking to the commercials. They’re catching up, the stars are aligned now and the timing is right. Screen Australia and Screen Queensland are also very receptive to looking at projects that may be on brand new distribution channels,” said Mayfield.

The next big project for Hoodlum is its co-production with FremantleMedia, Slide, which will go into production later this year in Brisbane for a 2011 broadcast on FOX8.

“It’s a 10-part multi-platform series; it’s going to be huge for so many different reasons. There’s a lot of innovation, the story is fantastic and it really is a multi-platform project. Foxtel are completely behind it, excited about how we’re going to do it across not only FOX8, but also the many other platforms that it connects with,” said Mayfield.

Hoodlum recently delivered a transmedia component for Philip Noyce’s action thriller Salt, starring Angelina Jolie. Day X was produced for Sony in the US, and launched in 17 countries.

“These sort projects are really about emulating the tone of what people can expect in the film. We started working with Sony 12 months ago on a narrative that could play into the theatrical release of the film, so we read the script and worked in a narrative that plays 10 weeks out from release.

“When you’re working that far out of the film, all you can look at is footage and notes and stills, but if you champion how to sell the story across other platforms to the people you’re working with, then they get quite excited about that and they see it as a way to add to the story and give fans and audiences another experience,” explained Mayfield.


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