Blog: Dispatches from Power to the Pixel

Maija Leivo, executive producer at Parallax Film Productions, shares highlights from the first day of The Power to the Pixel Cross Media Forum being held this week in London.

By Maija Leivo

In traditional media, the development cycle can  span five years.  The digital world demands nimbleness: in technology, platforms, financing and content.  The goal of Power to the Pixel is to help traditional media producers to make the leap to digital media.  As an organization, Power to the Pixel educates and advocates on behalf of producers, and also offers introductions to funders and commissioners. The Power to the Pixel Cross Media Forum is their flagship event.  In its eighth year, the Forum spans four days in London, in partnership with the BFI London Film Festival.

Day One (Oct. 7): The Conference

The morning sessions profiled some of the most successful thinkers and creators of cross media content ranging from John S. Johnson, co-founder of BuzzFeed; Lance Weiler, co-founder of Reboot Stories; Dr. Jo Twist, the CEO of UKIE; Nick Fortugno co-founder of Playmatics: Karim Ahmad, digital content strategist for ITVS; Lasse Mäkelä, CEO of Invesdor; Tero Laukomaa, producer of the Finnish Iron Sky franchise and Alexa Clay, author of The Misfit Economy.

Each speaker presented their cross-media favourites and highlights: projects they believed spoke to the highest values of these evolving genres. There were clear recurring themes: the constant interplay between storytelling and technology driving one another, using rapid protoyping to test assumptions and ‘fail faster’, and the surprising value of digital storytelling to local and national economies, not to mention the economies of scale, that allow for innovation.

The afternoon session was more practical.  Each speaker presented a case study, or case studies, of their projects and Canadian producers were well represented.  The session launched with the digital / print partnership between the National Film Board of Canada and the Guardian newspaper.

Loc Dao, the NFB’s head of digital content and strategy, shared clips from Seven Digital Deadly Sins, the web doc that was a coproduction between the NFB and the Guardian, and offered insights into the challenges and solutions that emerge while working in international partnerships with a major media partner.  Raphäelle Huysmans, producer at TOXA, brought back the lessons from Fort McMoney, the ambitious online interactive game was launched by the NFB in partnership with Montreal mediaco TOXA and Franco-German TV network ARTE. By the end of 2013 Fort McMoney had had 2,000,000 page views with over 400,000 registered users.

The powerful intersection between storytelling and technology was highlighted by journalist Nonny de la Peña who argued persuasively for immersive journalism adapting game technologies like Oculus Rift to put the audience at the heart of her stories, such as in the lineup for a Los Angeles food bank or on the streets of Aleppo during a bomb blast.

The financial bar was raised by the two last speakers of the day, Mikko Pöllä of Rovio (creators of the Angry Birds franchise, which collectively has 2.4 billion game downloads, 1.5 billion YouTube views and the promise of a feature film in 2016), and Jennifer Wilson of the Project Factory.  An Australian company, which now also has  offices in London, Project Factory created an App called Sherlock: The Network which was released initially on iPad and later on Android, and a new Downton Abbey soundboard App.  Jennifer outlined the various funding options for a cluster of digital mobile apps and games, websites and transmedia through sponsorship, advertising and sales.

Walking over to the cocktail event, we had an epic view of the Thames (pictured) as the sun went down on day one of Power to the Pixel.

Maija Leivo is a mom, filmmaker, experimental gardener and serial blogger.  Working as a writer and producer for over 10 years at Parallax Film Productions, Maija is currently completing Bahama Blue for Oasis and Discovery Channel International and has launched digital projects Dinologue, and her first iPad app Garden Sketch.