Stephen Ellis is the co-founder and president of the recently launched RocketFuel Media, which aims to assist television producers as they make the leap into convergent media.
Stephen Ellis, President and Co-founder of RocketFuel Media
We asked Ellis why he chose to start RocketFuel Media now.
"One of the big changes between last year and this year is that the largest funding agency in Canada, Canada Media Fund, adopted new guidelines in which they basically put a friendly gun to producers’ heads to say you can have your TV funding if you have a qualifying application but only if it’s a convergent project that also mixes in other platforms. So that’s a big change and it’s helping drag producers, some more kicking and screaming than others, into the new era. So we figure it means they’re going to be looking around for ways to accelerate that process by working with people that have experience.”
RocketFuel Media is comprised of two industry veterans: Ellis who has over 30 years experience working in the TV production industry in Canada while leading his family-owned Ellis Entertainment and Gina Lijoi, the digital strategist behind RocketFuel Media who has spent the past 12 years working in the online space as a digital project manager for a variety of clients.
Gina Lijoi, Digital Strategist, RocketFuel Media
With some resistance on the side of television producers, we asked Ellis to explain the benefit to this switch to convergent media in television production.
"We’re facing an inevitable change in the way content is consumed. Companies providing the pipes and airways to the services realize that this phenomenon described as the 4 As is taking over; consumers want any content, anywhere, at anytime, on any device. It’s meeting that challenge that they’re trying to find solutions for and because of that new reality, it’s not just about watching your TV show on your iPad, it’s increasingly wanting to have an experience that mixes different platforms that you can experience that content in a multitude of different ways on different devices,” said Ellis.
"It’s a monster hit in the US and Canada and they’ve been cutting edge in terms of developing extended content around the TV show in terms of what’s available on the web."
He explained their use of convergent transmedia this way: “They’ve done mobisodes for mobile phones; you can sign up to be a student at the school and then you have access to different story lines that intersect with the TV plot line; you can get to know characters through email; they’ve built a whole fictional community off the back of the show.”
According to Ellis, televisions are now coming equipped with built-in internet access which helps pave the way for how people will consume television and the way we communicate with each other. He paints a picture where viewers are watching their favourite television show, while chatting with friends through the television screen - creating a real time conversation once reserved for the water-cooler the following day.
Example of internet-equipped TV via Twell Wishes
"You look at what happened to the music industry over the last 10 years. It was decimated by the impact of internet as a tool for accessing content, whether you’re doing it legitimately or not. TV and film are fortunate in a way; we’ve been exposed to some of that but we’ve also had an opportunity because of the bandwidth demands of our content being that much greater. It’s tougher to file share our content, so we’ve had a head start on developing new business models rather than try to fight change," explained Ellis.
Ellis’ advice for the television industry: “the faster we can adapt as an industry and become consumer friendly, as the consumers’ demands escalate, the more likely we are to succeed as an industry.”
For more information on RocketFuel Media and how they can help your next convergent television project, check out their website.
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