“Captain Kirk was my teacher” – Interview mit Transmedia-Experte Jeff Gomez

Jeff Gomez

Jeff Gomez ist einer der erfolgreichsten Transmedia-Schaffenden weltweit. Der Amerikaner hat mit seiner Firma Starlight Runner Entertainment Transmedia-Kampagnen für die Kinofilme „Avatar“ und „Fluch der Karibik“, aber auch für Microsoft und Coca-Cola entwickelt. Dabei zieht er alle Register und baut mithilfe von Internet-Auftritten, Filmen, TV- und Webserien Erzählwelten auf, denen weltweite Aufmerksamkeit zukommt. Ende Februar kam Gomez nach München, um beim Transmedia Day zu zeigen, wie erfolgreiche Transmedia-Kampagnen entstehen. In diesem Rahmen stand er beim „Story First Digital Storytelling Lab“ Transmedia-Neulingen mit Rat und Tat bei der Entwicklung eigener Transmedia-Projekte zur Seite. Dieses Kooperationsprojekt des Bayerischen Rundfunks, des First Movie Program des Bayerischen Filmzentrums und des Transmedia Bayern e.V soll Transmedia-Interessierten bei der Verwirklichung ihrer ersten Projekte begleiten und ihnen das nötige Handwerkszeug für eigene Initiativen geben. Jeff Gomez, der gerne Transmedia-Begeisterte in der ganzen Welt unterrichtet, konnte als Lab-Experte für transmediale Konzepte intensiv auf die Ideen der Teilnehmer eingehen und die Projekte mit ihnen zusammen weiterentwickeln. Im Interview beantwortete er Fragen zu seinem Werdegang, Inspirationsquellen und den neuen Möglichkeiten, die transmediales Erzählen für uns bereithält.

One of the Lab participants said what she learned from you is that you have to take people at the core of their heart, and you’ll find what they want to see. Is this the aim of your work?

The projects that I reviewed were very varied and some of them were very dark, sad and depressing stories. And I know from my experience that those types of stories sometimes do not attract a whole lot of people, right? So, how do you fix that? How do you attract many people with a story that is dark and sad? The instinct is that we are revealing the facts of this terrible situation and will be outraged and do something about it. But that’s not how human nature works. Human nature requires an emotional engagement in order to stay long enough, to take the news, to become outraged and desire to do something about it. What I was telling her and most people at the class was that you have to understand what it is thematically that you are communicating to the human heart. I want to get more easily engaged to look at the story, especially if in the end, she is going to tell me that I can take part in a solution, that I can be empowered to do something about this terrible situation.

What was one of the common problems the Lab projects showed? What were the common things you had to work on specifically?

What I found there was what I often find in common with projects that are designed to go multi-platform. The concentration is on the concept and how it is going to be communicated on these different platforms. But what is it about from a narrative perspective? What is the story that has me hooked? That was not that obvious in these various presentations. If you are showing me this technology that allows me to experience a car crash – which is one of these projects – it was astounding. I would want to listen to this, but when it’s done, I do not want to follow the boy who caused the crash. That is depressing, that’s miserable, I am going away. I told them you have to give us a reason to want to follow this character, to leave this medium and go to the next medium and continue to enjoy the story. Even though it is sad and there will be consequences of what happened, I need to be charmed by this character. He needs to carry me forward. If I do not care about him, I do not watch, I do not engage.

You have done really big transmedia campaigns. What could you learn from what you have seen in the Lab?

It taught me more about the German people and what it is that concerns them. But also how, even in a people who are known for being stoic, containing their emotions, inside there is a beautiful warmth, and there is a desire to connect in a powerful way. And that made me happy and proved the points that I made in my presentation which is that the Germans are worthy of their cultural mythology.

You have taught people in Australia, in Colombia and many other countries about what transmedia is, how to develop a story and how to learn about it. Where does your inspiration to teach people derive from?

As a child, growing up in a chaotic environment, a deeply negative attitude and situation was going on around me, and I witnessed the suffering of my companions, my friends, my family. I learned how to escape this with story, and so, Captain Kirk was my teacher and Gandalf and Doctor Who. All these wonderful characters taught me about heroism and taught me about how to surmount such challenges. Somehow, I was able to transpose these lessons into the facts of my own life and leave this environment of suffering. But I love those people. Those people were my family, my friends; those people were Latino like I am Latino. But they are still there. So what can I do to assist them in some way? And the only thing I know is to teach. Let me find different ways to give them the information they need to get out of their situation. If I am didactic, if I am a politician, there is too much cynicism; they are not going to listen. If I create a narrative, a story that inspires them, that might do it, at least as far as my skills are concerned. So I practiced with these giant intellectual properties, these Hollywood properties, trying to understand what the components of the narratives are. What are the paths that these heroes take to succeed? Now I know how to install that into these big stories or even the small stories to affect this, to continue to teach. And then, transmedia is my excuse to go out and continue teaching face-to-face and giving, sharing a technique that is going to foster dialogue, because almost all of the pain, almost all of the problems and anguish that are felt by people is imaginary. It is stuff that they are doing because they do not have the knowledge to get out of this situation. I can relieve some of this pain, I believe, by teaching, by creating dialogue. You are ignorant, so you are in pain and you do not know how to solve it. With dialogue, you can solve it.

Your company Starlight Runner Entertainment is well known for big transmedia campaigns such as “Avatar” or “Pirates of the Caribbean”. But you also talked about a transmedia campaign for the Colombian government to reach population engagement. This is a whole new level of working with transmedia and transforming it to a deeper sense. How do you put together these two sides of entertainment and at the same time working for people who suffer and who have to get a better life? How do you put these two sides together?

It makes every day very strange for me and my team. But being affiliated with powerful brands allows me the privilege of being able to impart what I have learned onto governments. I need them. I need to continue to work with them. And these big brands are fun. On the other hand, we take the work that we are doing very seriously in these countries. But a story is a story. Whether it’s true or not, these are all interpretations, these are all things that we make up in our minds to make sense of life. Whether an amusement in a movie theatre, or a powerful advice that is wrapped up in entertainment that is given to the people, to the population of a country, there are many similarities.

Would you say there is a hierarchy between these things, or do entertainment and government tasks have the same importance regarding transmedia?

That depends on your perspective. My Hollywood colleagues say “Where are you going, Afghanistan?” I am not going there. You know, they are not that interested. And the people involved in government love to hear stories about Johnny Depp but they would like me to help them with their problem. Things are important depending on who you are. For me, I love being able to spend time in all of these different realms. I take what I learn from one and apply it to the other and vice-versa. It’s in many ways the realization of dreams that I did not even know that I had.

Maria-Mercedes Hering

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