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Twitter and Fandom in the Case of The Hunger Games

My colleagues and I have a paper in the next session at AoIR 2012, too, but we start with Rachel Magee, whose interest is in fandom on Twitter around the recent movie The Hunger Games. She and her colleagues developed the Twitter Zombie system, which draws on the Twitter search API to track user and hashtag activity around he movie. The movie is based on a popular novel for teen audiences, and the film itself was also very successful, with substantial fan activities around it.

Creating and Marketing Transmedia Stories

The first keynote at AoIR 2011 is by Mike Monello (who was also the producer of the Blair Witch Project). He begins by noting the importance of team collaboration, and says that Blair Witch emerged as a completely organic process involving its principal creators. The filmmakers wanted the dialogue to be completely improvised, and so created a deep mythology for the Blair Witch story; some of the (very realistic) clips recorded for the film were then broadcast on TV, and audiences were encouraged to go to the online community Split Screen to discuss whether what they’d seen was real.

The massive success of this online discussion then led to the setting-up of the Blair Witch Project Website, which contained the underlying mythology – fans speculated on the message boards and developed theories of what was going on, and the filmmakers themselves almost accidentally became involved in the story as filmmakers, therefore. While there was nothing on the site to identify the story as fiction, there was never any intention to mislead – and the site linked to information about the production process, too.

Current Trends across the Entertainment Industries

The next AoIR 2010 session I’m in is a panel on sustainable entertainment, which involves Wenche Nag from the Norwegian telecommunications company Telenor, Mia Consalvo, Jean Burgess, Patrick Wikström, and Martin Thörnkvist. Patrick begins by noting the transformations in the music industry, for example, where the largest company now no longer is a record label but a live music company. iTunes and similar models are also making a significant impact, of course. Much of this is now based on artist/audience relationships that are based on passion and substantial emotional investment – which works for some entertainment industries, of course, but not for others.

Also, what are revenues linked to – where do payments come from (now perhaps from subscription fees, advertising, sponsorships, etc., rather than from content sales)? This has led to a rapid succession of various attempted business models – the latest, for example, is Spotify –, some of which have failed already. Spotify, for example, has been an attempt to draw users away from illegal filesharing models and towards legitimate systems.

The Homemade Crossover Genre of Fan Videos

The next speaker at Transforming Audiences is Sebastien Francois, whose interest is in the fan videos deliberately combining material from various movies and television shows which are posted to spaces like YouTube; Sebastien describes this as 'homemade crossover'. Such videos are created only by a relatively small number of fans, of course, but may provide useful insights into active audiences.

Sebastien has studied such videos on YouTube using the ContextMiner analysis tool to examine the titles, descriptions, and other identifying characteristics of such videos. Such videos are often relatively short, with creators coming from a wide variety of countries; they exist at the intersection of vidding (adding popular music to edits of TV shows) and trailer mash-ups (parodies adding the soundtrack of movie trailers to collages of other movie or television material). Homemade crossover videos as Sebastien defines them do not necessarily use popular music, and are not necessarily parodic in intent - but instead often touch on the narratives within the original material.

The Changing Role of Talent Agencies as Global Entertainment Intermediaries

Susan Ward is the next ANZCA 2009 speaker, and focusses on talent agencies - she begins by distinguishing between internationalisation (trans-border flows of goods and services) and globalisation (the creation of global audiences, and global forms of organisation and a global functional integration of processes). This is visible especially in the context of international trade fairs, which are used to conduct business transactions, disseminate market intelligence, facilitate networking, promote an awareness of industry innovations, establish the identities of participants,and promote common assumptions and a common business culture.

Movie Filesharing as a New Distribution Mechanism

Next at COST298 is Rita Espanha, who shifts our interest to the effects of peer-to-peer filesharing of movies on cinema in Portugal. She begins by taking us through the key features of European cinema (as opposed to Hollywood) - the different content and narrative style, the funding support by national governments and related institutions, and the comparatively more limited distribution.

There are a number of different consumer types here, too - traditional consumers (mainstream TV channels, regular cinema goers), mainstream consumers (mainstream channels, less frequent cinema goers), and innovative (networked) consumers (also using other media, and especially the Internet, to access cinema content).

Web2.0 Critiques

(I'm afraid I accidentally deleted a couple of comments here last night - please repost them if you can!)

It's the last day of MiT5, and we're in the first session of the day. Mary Madden from the Pew Center is the first speaker, on Socially-Driven Music Sharing and the Adoption of Participatory Media Applications. She notes that the term Web2.0 is imperfect but convenient for summarising many of the current developments in the online world. Tom O'Reilly defines Web2.0 as harnessing social effects; it may not be a revolution, but there have been important changes. We now need to think critically about how and why it emerged as a major force in the first place.

Tools for New Media Literacies

The last MiT5 plenary session for today is on Learning through Remixing, and Henry Jenkins introduces it through examples of remixing as pedagogical practice in earlier times. This can perhaps be described as a process of taking culture apart and putting it together again, in order to better understand how it works.

The first speaker on the panel is Erik Blankinship, of Media Modifications, who build tools for exposing and enhancing the structure of media in order to make them more understandable to all (and he demonstrates this now by using a few redacted clips from Star Trek: TNG). Some of these which will also be online soon at, and another example for this is showing clips from The Fellowship of the Ring (the movie) next to the text of The Fellowship of the Ring (the book), and even a comparison of the Zeffirelli and Luhrman versions of Romeo & Juliet with the original Shakespeare text (which allows the viewer to compare how differently the two directors interpreted the text, and even to created hybrid versions with the 1996 Juliet and the 1968 Romeo interacting with one another). Fascinating stuff!

Leeds: Second Impressions

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There's been almost no rain in Leeds this Sunday, so (after processing another 50 or so pages of the Benkler I'm currently working through) I've used the opportunity to explore town a little more. This is the first day without rain or snow since the start of the week, and the temperature has risen slightly; there was in fact a little sunshine if you looked skywards in the right moment. The evening sky even has a kind of dark bluish tinge, rather than just fading from grey to black.

Leeds certainly is a town on the move - there's plenty of new residential and office development around the river and train line, and good parts of the city centre look like they've been redeveloped reasonably recently. That's not to say that there aren't still plenty of 60s and 70s municipal building monstrosities sprinkled liberally through town, much as they are in so many Western European cities. Leeds University isn't above reproach in that regard either - the iconic and the ugly (and the iconically ugly) are often just a stone's throw apart.

Last Legs and Broken Dreams


Well, this European journey is almost at an end. We spent the last few days visiting my mum on Ibiza, taking in some summer sun and sampling the local food (we bypassed the plethora of dance clubs advertised everywhere, though). And in what's likely to be a once-in-a-lifetime moment, Ann and I got to hold the real Oscar awarded to Casablanca as best picture of 1943, which now lives in the El Palacio hotel alongside a range of other movie memorabilia. It's about as heavy as you'd expect!


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