Inside the Rockies with Matt Hornburg

The marblemedia co-CEO and exec producer of Whatsinaname talks to Playback about the cross-platform project and what's on tap this year.

Leading up to The Rockies, which will be presented during the Banff World Media Festival June 10 to 13, Playback caught up with some of the nominees to talk about their projects.

Here, Matt Hornburg, co-CEO of marblemedia and executive producer for Whatsinaname, commissioned by the History Channel and nominated in the non-fiction cross-platform category, talks to Playback about the project and what’s next on tap.

PB: How does it feel to be nominated?

MH: With Banff in particular, because it’s such an important festival, it’s always a pleasure to be nominated. Look at the caliber of our peers in the category in which we’ve been nominated, there’s a lot of talent there. Being nominated is also great promotion for the project.

PB: How did you get here?

MH: Whatsinaname is a very unique proposition that really reflects the values of History Television and its parent company Shaw, with regards to coming up with something that truly speaks to audiences on multiple platforms.

So much of what’s happening now is online, with regards to [media] consumption. Our project really tried to answer to that by creating a broad-based, entertaining multiplatform series that caters to people, both online in a very personalized way in regards to their name and other peoples names, but then looking at the history of names in a very broad context for the TV show.

PB: Did you intend for your production to have international appeal?

MH: Yeah. Like all marblemedia projects, we always look to produce for the world stage, and Whatsinaname is no different.

We’re now speaking with other broadcasters internationally about the format of this project, and hope to be closing deals even at Banff.

The reason why this type of nomination is so important is that we hope to use it as a launching pad to continue our conversations with international buyers and actually close some deals.

PB: What, in your opinion, makes a good non-fiction property?

MH: I think non-fiction, as we all know, is sometimes becoming more fictional with regards to how the content is structured. At its heart, though, it has to have a good story and good characters that ultimately connect with its audience, which is also true for great fiction. I don’t think there’s anything that makes non-fiction unique.

PB: Why are interactive elements important?

MH: Quite simply, it’s because that’s what the audiences are asking for and where they’re spending their time, whether it be more time watching mobile or online content in place of TV, or even while watching TV. Trying to come up with an experience that caters to that audience is extremely important.

A big part of marblemedia’s business model is to ensure that we have thought about all of the other platforms as we’re creating an entertainment property. We’re looking at it as a 10, 20 maybe even 30 year plan.

PB: How important is a multi-platform approach in today’s industry?

MH: Multi-platform is absolutely crucial. Many people have been obsessed with trying to crack the business model. While I feel that having a solid business model will be an important aspect one day, for us, we are more obsessed with building an audience. We feel if we can build an audience both on TV and online and have a deeper connection with our audience in that regard, that we will find business models that are viable.

It’s still early days for multi-platform, and there are continually new ways of connecting with your audience. If you can grow that, and have a sizable community that you’ve established, the business models will naturally follow soon after.

PB: What do you have in the works?

MH: We’re always looking for new, fresh formats that we’re creating internally, whether it be for primetime factual, lifestyle or the children’s space.

There are a number of announcements that we’re going to be making closer to Banff with regards to new projects that we’re doing as co-productions with the U.K. and co-ventures with the U.S., so stay tuned.