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Film’s shifting definition in the transmedia age.

Film’s shifting definition in the transmedia age. (photo)

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As I was watching Jeff Deutchman’s documentary “11/4/08” a few weeks back at SXSW, it occurred to me that his “consensual piece of cinema” — shot by professionals and amateurs on Obama’s inauguration day and ending with a title card asking for more footage to be collected online via the film’s website and eventually added onto the existing product — wasn’t a film; it was some new hybrid of the medium in which the movie was only one piece of the puzzle.

With that in mind, “11/4/08” should most certainly be the one of the selections of the inaugural DOC NYC Festival, “New York’s first and only festival celebrating documentary storytelling across the fields of film, photography, prose, radio and other innovative forms” curated by Thom Powers and Raphaela Neihausen, the minds behind the IFC Center’s ongoing Stranger Than Fiction documentary series. There will be all the staples of a traditional film festival with panels, world premieres and retrospectives during the festival’s November 3-7 run, but as Powers told All These Wonderful Things’ AJ Schnack, “We very specifically did not call it a film festival.”

Coincidentally, this news came on the heels of the Producers Guild announcement of the union’s rare ratification of a new credit for their members to pursue: “Transmedia Producer,” which for the majority of the public will mostly mean that those names you see on the bottom of movie posters just got a little bit longer. But for the movie industry, it marks a new way of recognizing that movies are no longer limited to what you’re seeing on screen. The new tag applies to any “narrative project or franchise consist[ing] of three (or more) narrative storylines existing within the same fictional universe on any of the following platforms: Film, Television, Short Film, Broadband, Publishing, Comics, Animation, Mobile, Special Venues, DVD/Blu-ray/CD-ROM.” (Understandably, marketers will not be allowed to apply for the credit, despite the fact that the viral campaigns for films like “Tron Legacy” are getting to be as narratively ambitious as what they’re promoting — and scrutinized as such.)

04072010_SouthlandTalesPrequel.jpgOf course, the lack of an official title hasn’t prevented filmmakers from going beyond the scope of their films in the past. Richard Kelly famously penned a prequel for “Southland Tales” and Zack Snyder, realizing he couldn’t make a five-hour “Watchmen,” went the animated route to tell the “Tales of the Black Freighter,” which would eventually be reincorporated into his ultimate cut of the film on DVD.

Yet by turning what was once a luxury for multimedia-savvy filmmakers into a professionally recognized credit, the Producers Guild legitimized a whole new field for storytellers where film isn’t the center of attention. Not surprisingly when Liz Shannon Miller at NewTeeVee collected professional opinions on the subject, the consensus emerged that the new “transmedia producer” credit would be likely applied most to franchises from the major studios, since they already are part of major conglomerations with the ability to compliment each other on a bunch of different platforms. However, it’s the opposite end of the spectrum who could benefit from this most — artists who have long prized film as a medium but are burdened by budget and tight shooting schedules could be more encouraged to flesh out their stories elsewhere as as the stigma of parallel platforms subsides. (Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s is threatening to become a pioneer in this particular arena.)

It’s not that transmedia is a new concept; movies, after all, are a collision of many different artforms and now can be seen in a variety of different ways. But between a festival and an official title in its honor, it’s well on its way to becoming the text rather than being viewed as an addendum to it.

[Photos: Doc NYC,, 2010; “Southland Tales: The Prequel Saga,” Graphitti Designs, 2007]

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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