Haexagon Concepts monthly (double) recap – November/December 2012

— The monthly recap post will present you a summary of all our activities and projects during the past month as well as most relevant campaigns from film/ad/TV/web. —

There was so much happening in the past two months that we try to wrap up both recaps in one run.  

Staff activities:

november 28 – december 7: Diogo and Juergen went to Singapore to attend Siggraph Asia and Screen Singapore

december 6: With the new Google+ feature “communities” we created a transmedia storytelling platform for international creators to exchange ideas, present projects and to meet. https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/108901488597995396037

december 22: The Last Tycoon hits theaters in HK, a big budget production in which Kevin was involved since May 2012. He rendered several translation jobs for the script as well as subtitles.

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EAST SCREEN WEST SCREEN shows this month:

#134 http://kong-cast.com/east-screen-west-screen-134-you-dont-know-jackie

#133 http://kong-cast.com/east-screen-west-screen-133-my-sassy-hobbit

#132 http://kong-cast.com/east-screen-west-screen-132-let-them-eat-pi

#131 http://kong-cast.com/east-screen-west-screen-131-war-and-piece

#130 http://kong-cast.com/east-screen-west-screen-130-natural-born-sequels

#129 http://kong-cast.com/east-screen-west-screen-129-dredd-and-buried

Project radar:

 – The Grave Bandits

We kicked off our transmedia campaign work for the Filipino indie zombie adventure film The Grave Bandits. The film was premiered at the 38th Metro Manila Film Festival and saw a 7 day theater run. We went down to Manila to support the ground running and built actively an online+ offline audience. After winning the two main awards within the New Wave section of the festival (Best Film, Best Director) the film is set for a commercial release in spring this year. We’re now extending the story universe online throughout various channels.

Twitch Film article: http://twitchfilm.com/2012/11/upcoming-filipino-zombie-flick-the-grave-bandits-to-launch-transmedia-narrative-campaign.html

Press release: http://haexagon.posterous.com/zombie-indie-becomes-first-filipino-film-to-a

Project page: https://www.facebook.com/thegravebandits

Photo gallery: http://www.flickr.com/photos/medienmarco/sets/72157632409110431/

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– Squattertown

Was selected for the Unofficial Google Plus Film Festival and ran within the 1st web series block. Director Marco was also part of the online panel via Hangouts: https://plus.google.com/+UnofficialGooglePlusFilmFestival/about

We released the transmedia DNA map of Squattertown’s first two years or project “spread” http://haexagon.posterous.com/transmedia-dna-of-squattertown

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Transmedia DNA of SQUATTERTOWN

Every now and then we will present a DNA map of one of our transmedia projects and discuss what happened inside the story universe and what have been project results as well as our personal takeaways. A transmedia project is a living thing, a constant emerging IP that keeps growing. Hence, we can only address intermediate stage results.

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Squattertown is one of our longest running transmedia project out in the field. The idea roots back to mid 2009. We wanted to try how a Hong Kong version of the Spaghetti Western would look like. By December 2009 we came up with a quick shrot named DUE PAROLE, TRE BUGIE that was created as homage to the famous Westerns and set at a small seaside village amongst old ruins of a former fort. The film proofed that we could pull it off and that the HK Western had very strong visual potential.

So we began to develop the concept of the Dim Sum Western. HK is an urban territory ruled by skyscrapers. Thus, a local version of the Western had to reflect this situation since all social issues are linked to narrow concrete blocks within this city. We learned about squatter housing structures on rooftops by a book called  “Portraits from Above – Hong Kong’s Informal Rooftop Communities”. Structures that appear like decaying elevated villages in the midst of new high tech glass palaces. Visually, the perfect setting for a Western. The idea of Squattertown was born. Since we were already about to break the rules of the impossible and attempting to push the boundaries of what was deemed achievable in Hong Kong we decided to go for the format mini-series. Except for one foreign filmmaker in town, no one had touched this particular format at the time.

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[click here to see full res image]

On August 8, 2010 we started the crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, thinking to hold the ultimate pitch: A Dim Sum Western webseries on Hong Kong’s rooftops with a social note. However, the four funding months to come were bumpy and chaos ridden. It needs to be said, that we were running Squattertown as a side project, parallel to day jobs and master studies. None of us made a webseries before nor had experience in crowdfunding. We did some open source projects prior, that involved crowdsourcing of content and interactive participation by the audience, but never applied to project finance.

To coin the subgenre of the Dim Sum Western a designated Twitter and WordPress blog was installed to provide more insight on the definition and what films might be already belonging to that special species.

As we developed and extended the fundraising campaign, literally on the run, producing extra content, linking social networks with the campaign page and pitching the project all over town, there was a time when things got serious. The Indiegogo campaign was stalling for most of the time. Money kept coming in, mostly via private sponsors in face-to-face meetings but we still could not make our small budget. On top, the actual shoot had to be prepared and there wasn’t even a script yet. This was 2 months before the scheduled shooting date.

So we hit the brakes a bit. Postponed the shoot for one month and went on another crowdsponsoring platform as Indiegogo closed with only 1/3 of the budget in. While we were successfully funded on the new German platform MySherpas as one of their launching projects, location scouting began and it was then when we became aware of the full social dimensions of our specific topic. Property developers were about to demolish all the locations we had picked and it became a race against time.

If you want to read more about our adventurous shoot on Hong Kong’s rooftops, dodging triads and security guards while staging knive fights in public read our production logs here.

Due to the harsh conditions, more less remote locations and very tight shooting schedule we could not open the production process as much as we were used to. Usually we would have live video streaming from the set and an on-site reporter giving updates on live chats and twitter. So we tried to reinstall those interactive components during post-production as well as the launch of the series.

The Facebook page was an integral part of the project, but not so much as interaction platform but rather as archive of everything that happened around the project. This made quite a lot of sense when Facebook introduced it’s timeline structure a year later. Central point however, was the simple designed project webpage that linked all social networks and internet channels.

Prior to the physical premiere event in HK, the series saw two preview screening session on a live video streamed internet radio show. Additionally, we went several times on air with the team of East Screen, West Screen, a local HK podcast show that turned it’s recording sessions into weekly live-stream events with chat functions and provided updates on the project as well as educated about transmedia.

On July 30, 2011 Squattertown premiered at Videotage in HK as closing event to the New Media Archeology project series. During the event the Austrian company RealLifeConnect supplied us with their RFID check-in solutions and helped to link up the premiere audience with an online audience. Most popular was the photo box solution where visitors could wear the series’ costumes and take pictures that were shared with their Facebook friends instantly.

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The interactivity impact of this event was overwhelming and online metrics went through the roof. Two days later, on August 1st, the series was launched online on YouTube and Vimeo. Subsequently, throughout the month, supplementary videos, posters, photos and additional story elements via interactive Flash maps were released.

When Google+ launched during the same time we tried to incorporate the new platform technology into the project and setup a “Squatter Town” account that became quite popular with over 1K of followers after only 2 weeks but got soon shut down by Google as it violated their identity regulations at the time.

Besides the regular video platforms we tried new self-distribution methods and became testers for EggUp’s web service. We also tried to create a mobile app but subsequently had to abandon the  idea due to technical and time issues. Ultimately we got in contact with MoPix where we are currently developing a series app as part of the beta tester program. A limited BluRay release has been issued in late 2011.

Eventually, we had to push Squattertown periodically aside in order to focus on other projects, which means we could not follow up on all opportunities at hand. Also, since the project was a test run in every aspect, this stage of the p
roject fell a bit short in terms of story development. There is a lot of potential and we created this vast story universe but had no real chance to dig deeper or go into details at points.

In January 2012, Squattertown started its successful festival run, first in Hong Kong, then abroad. Notable is the November 30, 2012 screening at the Unofficial Google Plus Film Festival that reflected the transparent audience approach and interactive note of the overall project.

According to our experiences from the past 12 months, it is quite evident that the format webseries has made a huge leap forward. While we struggled to get the word out in late 2011, things became much easier. A huge international community has evolved around webseries. It became a serious business, providing a living for some makers as well. The trend is clear, branded entertainment is not only a finance source to get the project produced but also a steady income source for the makers.

Of course, the webseries community is thriving in North America and parts of Europe at the moment. In Asia the attitude is slightly different. While branded entertainment is a common place for TV series and so called microfilms by now, investors and major networks focus on webseries more and more. Only, no one calls it webseries here. However, at this point in history, established and well known feature filmmakers are given exclusive chance to test such branded entertainment formats. It has yet to become a standalone business for independent filmmakers.

While local HK TV seems to be stuck behind the curve, unwilling to pivot to the market trend (no sign of transmedia or second screen apps), Mainland Chinese networks are far more flexible. Especially the major internet video platforms invest substantial budgets into such formats.

Different than in the West, independent filmmakers in HK are very reserved, yes even reluctant to adopt the new formats or even just try out what transmedia could mean to their storytelling. Most consider a Facebook page and a Weibo account as peak of their public appearance which they exploit soley for marketing purposes. As most aim for film festival and traditional press fame they forget to touch base with and build an audience.

But what is the future for Squattertown?

We still need to run in low gear mode as a side project. A concept teaser for season 2 is already online. Once finance is secured we start working on that fulltime. Meanwhile, we tackle to extend the story aspects that fell short for so long. Focus will be given to the Twitter account now. The adventurous tales from the Dim Sum Western universe are about to begin, 140 characters at a time…

More project links:

> Fundraising:

> Production:

> Release:

> Premiere:

Haexagon Concepts monthly recap – October 2012

 — The monthly recap post will present you a summary of all our activities and projects during the past month as well as most relevant campaigns from film/ad/TV/web. —

 

October has been quite a busy and productive month. The team was out and about on business trips in Shanghai, Marseille and London and there have been some major developments at our veteran project Squattertown.

Staff activities:

october 8: 1st company trailer went online including our new logo animation. Also, some more PR material arrived. Besides the 2 t-shirt types, there are stickers available now.

october 9: We published our first industry report. The Asian Screen series will have a follow up report every 2-3 months on the state of selected Asian movie industries and the emergence of local transmedia projects involved. Naturally, we focus on China and HK within our first batch of reports and will subsequently move further south with case studies as our projects develop.

http://bit.ly/AsianScreen1

 

october 10-20: Marco visited the Marseille Webfest and presented Squattertown as only Asian title at the webseries market. Here a roundtable discussion Marco participated in with other webseries makers from Mexico, USA and Sweden:

After the festival he went to Power To The Pixel’s Pixel Forum at the BFI in London. At the same time, Diogo and Juergen went up north to Shanghai for the Digital Cream conference.

 

EAST SCREEN WEST SCREEN shows this month:

#125 http://kong-cast.com/east-screen-west-screen-125-journey-to-the-breast

#126 http://kong-cast.com/east-screen-west-screen-126-teddybears-and-assassins

#127 http://kong-cast.com/east-screen-west-screen-127-fruit-loopers

#128 http://kong-cast.com/east-screen-west-screen-128-bananas-is-pyjamas

Halloween Special 2012 http://kong-cast.com/east-screen-west-screen-halloween-special-2012

Project radar:

 – RealLifeConnect: Our long term partner RLC finally published its anticipated Weibo integration solutions (http://www.techinasia.com/reallifeconnect-sina-weibo-china/) and we supplied them with some video and photo material for the campaign start. The series of instruction videos we shot in late September will be online soon. All this is part of a long haul multi-media marketing and branding campaign that we deliver.

– Squattertown: Festivals all over the place for Squattertown. In October, the series ran at the Marseille Webfest and Impakt Festival in Utrecht. While the series was running in competition in Marseille, it was featured between other prominent Asian Western creations in Utrecht. As part of the No More Westerns theme the festival screened Squattertown within the How the West was One (part 2) Westerns from the East section (http://impakt.nl/festival/2012/programme/no-more-westerns-programme/screenings-no-more-westerns-programme/how-the-west-was-one-part-2-westerns-from-the-east/). It is also headed for the Mobile film Festival in Skopje, Macedonia, in early November. On top, as part of the HK Mobile Film Festival 2012 aftershock the series was featured on HK’s most popular cinema app. Episode 1 was available directly on the HK Movie iOS app for iPhones for 1 week.

Transmedia campaign radar:

There are some exciting developments going on in terms of local distributors starting to apply transmedia tools to their movie marketing campaign. Emperor Motion Pictures kicked off its campaign for TRIAD with a series of character videos on YouTube and most distinct, a fake Apple Daily (biggest tabloid media network in HK) videos. Those staged videos are accompanied by a fake Facebook triad election page (https://www.facebook.com/hengzitou) which grew quite popular within the past couple of weeks. Emporer works the film’s topic quite well, considering the timing with the US elections. There are also election posters circulating, primarily throughout Kowloon that feature the 2 main character as staged candidates which sparked threatening calls to the producers (http://my.news.yahoo.com/triad-production-receives-threats-232526363.html).

But Emporer goes a step further, implementing the extremely popular WeChat app into the game. Scaning a QR code will connect you “directly” with one of the characters. The use of WeChat is a technological loophole to reach out to a potential traveling audience beyond the border as the film will unlikely be screened in China due to topic and graphic violence.

So it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on future developments of this campaign. The movie starts on November 15th in local cinemas.