The world of film and television content is set to change. As the Oscars entered its 87th year this weekend, we have to wonder how long it will be before nominations on the Hollywood red carpet include films made not for the silver screen but specifically produced for second screens, small screens or even virtual reality screens.
If we take a quick look at this year's Golden Globe Award winners, the notion of a high-profile award winning film made for the mobile-first generation isn't as far-fetched as perhaps it first seems. After all, Transparent has now become the first on-line series to ever win a best series, comedy or drama Golden Globe while its lead, Jeffrey Tambor, won the award for best actor at the 2015 ceremony.
In addition to this, virtual reality headset Oculus Rift has launched its VR Story Studio at the recent Sundance Film Festival. Oculus VR's Story Studio includes several veterans of Pixar Animation Studios and Lucasfilm so we are assured its mission to move the medium into film is a serious one. The genre even has its own name of 'real-time cinema', reflecting the fact that viewers need to feel present in the film, whilst the filmmaker also has to be able to tell a story effectively. For Story Studio's debut Lost, which was shown to Sundance goers, the team had to consider how to allow the viewer to fully relax in a forest environment before moving the story on. In this instance the parallels with the challenges faced by the advertising industry are clear.
While it's obviously very early days for feature-length virtual-reality, second screen or mobile-first movies, the stepping stones to reach this future, are already being navigated by those responsible for how films are marketed. Paramount Pictures Corp, for example, created a virtual reality experience for Intersellar at selected cinemas across America at the end of last year. While here at Adludio, we recently created an interactive cross-screen ad to promote Studio Canal's Oscar-nominated The Imitation Game.
The format turned passive online audiences into active participants: it invited users to 'solve the Enigma' by touching (or clicking) obscured letters on a word puzzle and undergo a human verification test based on the Turing protocol. The activity then delivered a condensed trailer for a mobile-centric audience.
This is good news, for too long the delivery mechanism for film marketing has been the standard trailer. However, as filmmakers themselves starts to experiment with different delivery methods, so too must those who promote their work. And once film studios buy-into more connected ways to reach mobile-first audiences with marketing and promotional messages, they will begin to step up their investment to incorporate the technology and methodology into film-making itself.
Last year, Twentieth Century Fox employed a futurist called Ted Schilowitz who said that once the technology and the market for virtual reality and more connected content matures, studios will start to create original content specifically for virtual reality that isn't tied to a more traditional film project. I believe advertising will be responsible for maturing this market, and helping filmmakers and moviegoers alike get comfortable with the changing industry. As we start to see films and their trailers produced in this way, film fans will be the real winners as they're asked to engage and participate - but there's no reason the advertising industry shouldn't win big too.