A blog series I was holding back to leach the substance of how I came up with all that “stuff”. Not a transmedia work as a form of communication, but a piece of storytelling with text about the stories happening while working on the transmedia concept itself, as an indie creative researcher, in order to co-design the future. It started in December 2010 with a corner-stone on the French Wikipédia. French native, yes, still a transmedia advocate. My way.
Past serves the Future via the Present.
Some people are born greedy. How come? And what’s worse? The hypertrophy of the ego is worse. No, it’s not the same, though they do associate very well.
A former high school friend was born in a greedy family but as I was 15 I had no idea what it meant and I was intrigued by their materialistic way of life. She was a girl lost in a malish jewish family-hood, lacking attention and transforming her needs into authority at school, trying to control us, kids. Living in Cannes on the French Riviera does not help a teen to prepare for the 21st century (and beyond). Tough my creative career was made possible by the fact that I was involved with the cultural and public life of the city very early, I did wonder how much I could bear with the materialists, the greedies and the opportunists. I could never imagine they could also lie. We learn.
After 15 years of promotion of the “Indie American Cinema” in Cannes and elsewhere, as well as promoting my “French Short Films Wave” of the ’90s, I quit from my job in Cannes (and New York, and Paris) on the spot. I gave up. Fed up.
Sandy Mandelberger, former Director of the IFP and other agencies of the film industry, arrived at my home in the early morning with the press kits of the indie movies made by American young directors to hand them to me for their dissemination. In Cannes, we wake up very early to either get to the press screenings at 8 am, or place the materials in hotels lobbies before breakfast. Well, not all festival attendees do that, but the professionals, the ones working at the film market. No film market, no Cannes. No Cannes, no international film and television industry system. Of course over the years the Cannes film festival changed, in the 80s-90s the film industry was “still” great. Sandy and I were pioneering and I thank him for hiring me in New York when I was a film student.
I opened the door and said to Sandy that I quit. I did not want to work for the promotion of nasty film directors, greedy producers, or even great artists, because great artists make you miserable sometimes. The pay was too low for the assets I was putting on the table. I also was a short film director and wanted to produce my first feature, I had a non-profit on my own to work on cultural events with valuable partners, so doing this job every year and sometimes for events in other cities, was too much work for little money. In the film and TV industries, the most valuable asset is your network. Mine was valuable, it was a pity to waste it for the promotion of people with hypertrophy of the ego who will not be here the next year, or ever.
20 years later.
The Cannes high school friend became a mother, working with her brother, or should I say “for” a brother, then “for” her husband. Really? No time for being creative, create her public exposure, be in the fields, learn the real world outside family life, real-world that she never actually experienced on her own. Her husband, one of those other teens from Cannes (really?) became a greedy film producer. Almost logical. Working in France makes it possible for a smart greedy person to benefit from the subsidies and grants from the government agencies (this worth an article…) and to network with the industry in order to build a business that is making money even if it is not providing valuable artistic or cultural assets. I had met hundreds of those. I even worked for some. In this case, there was the common subtle unhealthy distortion of what we call “author’s rights”. He was able to make more money as an author than a producer, using the techniques of the French system for the sake of copyright. That is another story, let’s go back to the “wife”, the sister-mother dying for real professional or creative life.
I was building an international community for the sake of the Creative Commons. My political investment changed my life. Instead of working “for” the creative industries, I preferred to change it for the sake of ethics and because I was not aligned with the way the French system was working, not even the European system which I know very well. My strong international network and my habits with public relations and the creative businesses allowed me to be fast-building non-profits organizations and innovative tools and communities. New York was still my ideas box and my second home. I met Lance Weiler in London though, where I also saw several of my peers, when we all got “Transmedia Ready” (explanations to come in the next post).
I ask my former high school friend, the “wife-mother-sister”, to join me in the launch of a company because she has know-how I do not have, such as business management. I recalled of her as being an unfair greedy person but I was sure that she could understand the opportunity that I was describing. In this, I was very right. I thought that partnering with a long time friend from school, will avoid the issues I had in the film industry before in partnering with male-minded greedy producers (see, #meetoo). I asked her to co-found the company. The corporation. I would still have the non-profits on the other side for political and public activism as I did not want to mix the two. This is crucial.
One cannot mix public and private activities when advocating for a concept, for a cultural statement, for change activism, for politics, for social change, or even sustainable life or business. It just does not work overtime. We all tried. One can build a non-profit and a corporation on the side, but the non-profit shall be the private agency for the private money system. Clear. For more than 10 years I was not really making money with Transmedia Ready, I even lost some. Same with Transmedia Meetups (started December 2010), Transmedia Alliance (launched in 2013), and all collaborative workshops such as Barcamps and hackathons. But it was possible to build an on-the-side Transmedia Ready studio or agency to pay ourselves so I can continue to do the necessary activism that was supposed to change the rules at the level of the European Commission. Ambitious? Possible.
There was a good long term strategy for cultural change. Trying to change rules in the ecosystem of the French creative industries was not possible as the copyrights law is also controlled by Europe and the economic and business models are also controlled by Europe, as in any other industry. Even if the idea of Authorship is historically French, even if this money wise copyright protection paid smart greedy opportunists such as the “high school friend’s husband”. (One needs to know the tricks to get money from gov. agencies and copyright unions, but it is worse learning).
Money from the audiences (you and I) enters the public European or French bank accounts and, remains there (…), then it is used for subsidies, sometimes some grants too, to the ones who can manage the rules. That built the actual system we are in. For how long still? There are millions of euros in Luxembourg. Brussels, Geneva, and Strasbourg where the European Parliament is. “They” vote in Strasbourg, but the management offices are in Brussels, and sometimes in Luxembourg (not really in the Union), for instance, Eurostat, the European body for statistical studies is a huge building with some empty offices and lots of well-paid agents in Luxembourg (I worked there as a freelance producer).
Back to the girl from Cannes. She litterally said: “I will have a good salary, I’m worth 5.000 euros per month, I’m used to make money. Not like you“. Shocked. I was still in the memory of my best summer ever in 2010, at the “Digital Peak”, filming a hacking camp in the mountains of the South of France, with great open-minded people about the Commons and the Open Source. I was building an open-minded community for Change in the current cultural habits destroying the fairness of the creatives, the pioneering, the sense-making of future generations in the media, museums and schools. And, hopefully, reach the decision-making commissions in Brussels and professional gatherings such as market places and conferences. Dream versus utopia.
Nevermind. I took “her” with me to New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco (but once she got the authorization from the family to leave home… humor). Our items of luggage really do not look the same! I had no idea, I just was so much into trusting some other transmedia activists abroad, that I let her took over my network. I did not know what she was preparing behind my back. One cannot say that this is a typically female jealousy issue because I had a similar story with a male New Yorker. A transmedia advocate turned a smart open community of pioneers into a corporation and, even worse, into a trademark. He also used my European strategy to copy-paste, spreading his trademark in several cities including France.
Long term strategies work only with long term ethics.
Backed-up by her greedy unfair husband, the former high school enemy was able to convince some people to work for her, even for free, and not work with me. In one year, I lost friends, investment, and self-esteem. My reputation was attacked and it was spreading all over the international community. Just the fact that I was carrying this “greedy not-so-smart woman” with me in public places made me lost friends because they could not understand why I was with her, or her with me, using my brand.
One day in her home in Paris, straightforward, no introduction: “My husband has nothing to do with this as I take my decision alone but I do not need you, I can do it alone and start my own company”. Done. She also wanted to use the very same business cards. Why did she say that her husband was not involved? Follow my thoughts… I had betrayals in the film and television industry with partners, that was the reason I wanted to work with a high school friend, for the trust. Breaking. She said I could keep the brand… Thank you. She just used the same word without “Ready”. Then she did the copy-paste strategy. Talking a lot was easy for her and by using Names she convinces some naive debutants to get into projects pioneering from the Open Culture and the Open Innovation. Other advocates just did not know anything about this as they all thought she was still associated with my own values, name and network.
The backstories are worth to wait for the revelations when one can judge the real success. Is it money, fuzzing social media (fake statements), or long term ethics?
Today transmedia is developed as a concept by different social groups. One of them is academia, especially in the Spanish language. I never left. I waited. “Transmedia is to the media what contemporary art is to the arts”. I had submitted this statement to the approval of my mentor Brian Clark (passed and missed 1968 -2015.) before making it public. I honor him also for helping me to see the ideas to use in my research, for instance, the Phenomenology theories in philosophy. My statement is still valid. I did doubt. It is mine but I do not need to trademark it (follow my thoughts…). As long as I shared it with smart fair peers and some researchers, I am happy to be an innovative person making a difference for the future, even if painfully broken, especially by greedy opportunists with the hypertrophy of the ego: that disease does not heal, and is not contagious, we wait and they are gone!
Sustainability in the strategies, and with the content, is key. That is the future.
Past serves the Future via the Present.
@KHenthusiams is @TransmediaReady – A Think & Do Tank since 2010