A transmedia twist. How an old gypsy song turns Nina's story around.
Updated: Jul 27
Transmedia storytelling, a fascinating craft.
Transmedia storytelling attracts me like a magnet the more I explore it. It’s a different kind of pleasure this type of media adventure gives to both creators and spectators. The idea of adding layers to a character’s DNA, destiny, and the world by transmuting and translating the story from a book to a movie to a game or different virtual realities makes transmedia a fascinating craft.
From a business point of view, transmedia’s powerful capacity to expand the potential market for a property by creating different points of entry for different audience segments is as exciting as having fun in your favorite themed park.
Transmedia territory is a vast unknown for me, but as far as I can tell by now is that creating and living neverending feelings and worlds through the same fictional characters seems to have its seeds in transcendentalism and man’s need for immortality. A dream fulfilled in many ways today!
Seeing and interacting with a novel’s character that has influenced your life since childhood and growing together with it in different mediums, worlds and realities make transmedia stroytelling both addictive and hypnotizing.
Only the possibility to travel from life to fiction and alternate realities so smoothly makes our generation the luckiest in the history book.
My first movie and the first transmedia germs. Before I knew there's an entire art and science around it.
I haven’t had a perfect plan with my 37-minute comedy-drama The Locationist, but only feelings, some online marketing research, business background, gut instincts, and an open heart.
My goal was to have the best time of my life on set, to learn more about directing, and to make an 8/10 nice-to-watch movie.
Initially, it was a 15-page script with 2 characters that turned into a 22-page story with 4 characters on camera and 1 off-screen. Being dedicated to creating unforgetable memories (at least for myself), as it was also my first film, I decided to assemble a B production unit to map the behind-the-scenes of the entire pre-production and production experience, a decision that resulted in a 72-minute making-of documentary that became part of the story, giving the viewer a 360 feel over the character’s background.
Having cinematic locations and the job of film locations scout at its core, I placed the story concept at the intersection of cinema, tourism, and real estate, trying to set a decent and strong enough foundation for my multi-purpose mission:
to unravel the diversity of human nature’s psychology, mysticism and craziness through unique places, architecture, and traditions through the lenses of a film location scouter
to get sponsors fast on board to sustain the production (the locations themselves, travel agencies, hotels that accommodate the team, transport suppliers, and so on).
In short, to make it an integrator film production concept that blurs the lines between fiction and reality by using properties and various locations the way they are, cross-industry vehicles.
The film location was not what I had in mind for this film concept as it wasn’t peculiar or unique enough, but it came with stunning outdoors and free of charge, so, I had to refocus the content.
On this occasion, I found that when it comes to the look of our private properties, we, the Romanians, are quite off. We want bigger, taller and more expensive properties than the others posses. Not at all more interesting or beautiful. If it wasn’t for the beauty and diversity of our landscapes, we would have had the most boring and ugly properties around. An exception from this statement is our traditional architecture, but I am not speaking about our smart ancestors. Post-communism generations and our ancestors are worlds apart. Lost worlds, for now.
Overall, my plan worked in general lines, ending up with a good enough movie that can both stand alone as a long-short and that’s open enough for development in more than one direction. It was designed as a proof-of-concept from the start and it reached its potential more than I expected from my first trial.
One transmedia germ popped up randomly when our perceptions got messed up by the protagonist’s car going off. The protagonist’s story is my story in part and the car, a gorgeous oldtimer yellow Chevy, was the female lead character’s mobile home in the movie. When it crashed, it crashed in all realities at the same time. This is how we woke up in a field of corn at sunset playing reversed roles as if the car transcended the realities with us from the movie to reality.
Who’s who now? When did you exit the movie? When did I enter the movie?
I didn’t realize the transmedia feel until I saw the making-of. You can’t see it at the movie level, but you can feel it at the overall production level. Here is both the movie and the making-of, if you want to see what I mean.
I was about to find out much later, while my mind got clearer, that the most generous ground for a transmedia twist lies in the protagonist. But now that I just said this, I realized there's potential also for the others. Obviously, there's much to learn and practice, I know.
As the story is more about the annoying nature of her job and of her persuasive skills and personality, the script didn’t allow me too much space to show more of her background story, heart, and spirit. So, I needed to insert some extra scenes and lines to help the viewer connect with her atypical way of being and to become more curious about her.
We wake up with her. We spend our morning watching her doing what appears to be old-ways rituals. In reality, there are the only rituals every human in her situation can do. But she does it with grace and that is what makes her stand out.
She wasn’t born a nomad and she is not a gypsy (or is she? from this life? from past lives?), some challenges and choices led her to a very tight place to be in the wide open. At least for a while. However, she lives the nomad gypsies’ life, traveling from place to place wherever the job takes her.
She lives with the flow. Now with the troubled Vika’s flow, an American producer who came to Romania to make Indian low-budget movies. Their relationship is hard to understand even for me.
Coming back to the transmedia spirit, a few days ago when I cropped a part of her morning scene from horizontal to vertical format for my TikTok, Youtube Shorts, and Instagram Reels, I added a gypsy old song over her washing moment in nature. A piece I named "Good morning". A song that I found on Youtube under the name Beás Himnusz ("Song for mercy" by Kalyi Jag, album "Lungoj o drom angla mande").
I changed nothing else.
But that song... that beautiful song entirely changes the perspective. It naturally expands the possibilities on how to develop her and her story further (or backward?). She feels from another movie, exactly as she is also in this one, graceful, strong, beautiful, and mystical. Just adding the gypsy song revealed her true free spirit, maybe her original self. I was always fascinated by the way how music changes everything.
Here she is :)