Guys, we’ve been loving our Five Questions With… feature so much, we’re going to start putting them out on Saturdays so you can enjoy them all weekend long. Excited? Damn right you are, especially since today we have Nina Bargiel, a writer and transmedia producer who created the the expansive social media world surrounding MTV’s college vampire drama Valemont (and won an Streamy for it). Below, she warns the world to not call her a Social Media guru, talks about the lessons learned during Valemont and wins my heart forever by picking a cat video to share.
1. What’s the one big issue/law/attitude/restriction that you think is holding back the industry?
Please note that I’m coming at this from the transmedia perspective, and not a web-series perspective…but I’d have to say it’s measurability and defining that in terms of value (which means money). While we can track sign-ups and time spend on sites or numbers of users in a community, I feel like we’re still at the beginning of tracking how transmedia experiences translate into specific metrics. I think that’ll get us over the next hurdle, which is making people understand what we do. When I introduce myself as a transmedia producer, people have a ::BLINK:: ::BLINK:: moment, laugh politely and walk away. This is probably why I don’t get asked back to parties.
2. What industry buzzword do you never want to hear again?
I get only one? Webisode. Engagement. (Okay, that one kind of means something.) Social media guru. The last one makes me stabby (which is probably reason #2 I don’t get asked back to parties). Usually if you define yourself as a “guru” of something, you aren’t. Although I have noticed that some of these “gurus” do pretty well financially. But I’m still not going to define myself as transmedia guru. (Because I’m not.)
3. If someone gave you $50 million to invest in a company in this space, which one would it be? (Mentioning your own doesn’t count.)
I am company-less, so there’s no moral dilemma here! I’d give it to a transmedia company like No Mimes Media, Campfire, or GMD Studios to develop original IP. Hopefully it would be MY original IP. (See how I did that?)
4. What was the last video (that you weren’t personally involved with) that you liked enough to spread to others?
Have you seen Julie Klausner’s Cat Whisperer? She whispers sh*t to cats. (NSFW for language.)
5. WILD-CARD: MTV is currently developing Valemont as a possible television project following its successful run on the web. What was the one big lesson you learned from running the transmedia campaign for the show, and how key do you think that campaign was to Valemont’s potential transition?
Whoo boy, what lessons didn’t I learn? There were things I knew, like the Internet never sleeps, but when you’re singlehandledly playing nine characters on Twitter plus updating three blogs plus running an ARG plus allowing for audience interaction (which was awesome and the best part of the job!) it turns out that you never sleep, either.
Oh, you probably meant professional lessons. Details matter. Whether it’s story details or it’s technical details, if you let something slip people will notice (I was constantly saying throughout the Valemont experience “There are no takebacks on the Internet.”)
The reality is that things don’t always go as planned, though, so you need to figure a way to write yourself out of a situation, and quickly . This doesn’t even mean something’s been messed up, either. With Valemont we realized that the online audience was clamoring for more, so I had to figure out a way to create more content that 1) didn’t cost us any more money and 2) stayed within the context of our narrative.
I’d like to think that the transmedia campaign was a vital part in the transition to TV, but that’s due to Christian Taylor and Brent Friedman creating a “universe worthy of devotion” as Brent likes to say. (Christian wrote, and Christian & Brent co-created Valemont.) I got to take those characters and that universe online, which let people connect with the world in an extremely real and emotional way. That in turn made our audience connect to the project, which drove them to not only watch but promote and get others involved to watch. Which was pretty cool.
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