For the first time this year, Cannes’ Film Market adopts a Cross Media Corner in addition to the traditional Doc Corner and Short Film Corner, when the first could actually very well be the corridor between the two others.

In 2013, distribution is still the main issue for most short film makers. Making a film to be seen is a principle that makes sense but, in practice, is in fact an exception to the rule. A cross media or transmedia development allows a return to this principle, which is particularly crucial in the case of short movies, which do not benefit from the distribution architecture and business model of feature films. We know it; the public has not suddenly stopped loving stories that are told to them, even if movie-theatre attendance is decreasing. This desire for storytelling is ubiquitous, but also more diversified than ever.

At a time when video games have become genuine participatory audiovisual experiences, the gaming market has exploded. The time spent on these platforms has increased and it used to be during this same segment, dedicated to leisure activities, that the public once granted more time to other content such as literature, short films, feature films, series or (web)documentaries. Technological progress and its democratization has simply changed our habits of cultural consumption, but these habits remain identifiable and it is through them that the creation process must begin, not by addressing an audience, but by addressing a community to which authors belong or will belong.

Today in France, there are on average seven screens per household. One household in ten owns a tablet for 18 million smartphones in the country. There are more than 26 million active members on Facebook and 5 million have a Twitter account. The public is clearly multi-platform and it passes from one to another naturally and automatically according to its consumption habits that are cross media. The so-called second screen can virtually double the time spent in leisure activities, via simultaneity. Everywhere, there is a suitable place to support your story or part of it. It may be contextual elements, a prequel, a sequel, a spin- off…everything is possible, provided that it is deployed with enough creativity, coherence and logical links between the platforms.

Every effective cross-media campaign should incorporate elements of marketing and scenario alike. So the film, along with its consumption, can be scripted to form a better movie experience for the viewer – one whole that is better than the sum of its parts. Cross media clearly bets on teasing and call to action by an audience that becomes reasonably participative. By involving an audience, we turn its members into potential ambassadors, who will freely share their experience with their own community and channels.

Today, each internet user who has a Facebook account is his own publisher of content, artistic or not. He has a power of distribution. Writing, creation and strategy combine in one transmedia device, but these forces come together for one purpose only – to make the experience visible and entertaining enough for it to be self-spread via good old word-of-mouth and virtual modern methods. Your movie can become a level of a shared experience with your community, but you will have to work to build it, to moderate it and to entertain it around your story world, which may arise long before the making of the film itself, when it is funded through crowd-funding, for example.  This is the main task of a community manager.

In the feature film context, today’s cross-media consumers are tomorrow’s cross-media authors, but as far as it concerns the short film, the time is now. You want your film to be seen? Then think about meeting with the public’s habits by deploying your story the right way on the platforms where people are spending time. Do not broadcast 15 minutes of film on a platform such as Facebook, where the public does not have more than a minute of attention to pay to a single video. Make all these places gateways to your story instead.

Cross-media has changed the working arrangements. An audiovisual work should be adapted and created from its inception onwards into many other art forms, all considered in terms of distribution and it is you, the author, who must upgrade to the status of Experience Architect, a title that will have a good effect on your business card in distinguishing you from thousands of other directors out there.

written by Domenico La Porta, editor in chief at Cineuropa