BWE10 Keynote with Brian Solis and Mark Burnett

Convergence of Media and the Future of Unscripted Drama on the Web

Sitting in on a Brian Solis BlogWorld keynote is always a conference highlight.

At BWE10, Brian interviewed Mark Burnett, a TV and film producer whose IMDB page reads like a most-watched program list. Watching Mark's clips was entertaining; you'll see a few of them here, too.

After I published this poist, I found the convergence of media and the future of unscripted drama on the web keynote video.


Here are my notes, lightly edited and not verified with the speakers for accuracy. If you attended this session, please add your comments and insights or if you’re a Survivor fan, tell us about your most memorable Survivor social media moment. Also, please let me know what I missed. In our section the sound was a bit fuzzy in the early part of this session. And, check out John Chow's coverage of the Brian Solis and Mark Burnett keynote.

Brian: Social media is an unscripted reality show. How do you see storytelling as being an important part of what we do?

Mark: My job is to take images and sound make stories that represent core values.
How are you going eliminate people every week? Survivor – each week you have death and birth, all the ancient things and s

Orange is a warm nice color, blue is a cold, death color
Now that one person is eliminated, the group dynamic will never be the same.

The person that comes alive on the screen in social media is the person that breaks through.

Casting and choosing who will be in the content is so critical.

Brain: Can anyone predict what will make a good story?

The unpredictable nature is a greater driver. One of your favorite characters could be eliminated. Survivor took unpredictability and turned it into a positive.

Survivor – he believed that the book Lord of the Fires [this may not be the exact title] could translate. Values change when you live on an island: no fancy cars.

As far as the creative process goes, the need to be certain can cause paralysis. You’re never certain that you should marry a person, change jobs. The need to be certain can cause procrastination. You need to be willing to jump in and take a risk. People that need to figure it out will not do anything. The people that get things done need to step out in faith and not worry about being scared “---itless.”

A lot of us are working outside of our comfort zones and sometimes that’s what brings out our best – Brian Solis

The reason that Survivor carried on was that people would go into the office and talk. The change has been with social media is that the conversation is happening during the show. While the water cooler conversation is still going on, social media has expanded immensely what goes on.

The mission is the right kind of casting, the right core values and the right mission, but you need people to be talking about it. For ten years, Survivor at 8 was the number one show.

Bringing Jimmy Johnson on Survivor is what made people way, way more aware. “I can’t win a million dollars, but I can help you win a million dollars.,” Johnson said.

You couldn’t help but feel for him. That’s the whole spirit of social media is sharing – Brian Solis

Mark’s philosophy about shows came from his mom. When he first moved to the US, Mark got a letter from his mom every week with the same stamp and the same stationary, all that was different was what she wrote. Once you get a loyal following you need to give them an anchoring framework with surprise elements. What kind of idiot changes a successful format or blog? Just change small parts. Don’t get a whole new set of stationary – it’s dumb. Just have a couple of interesting and memorable experiences.

MTV award clip with Bruno

Our job is to have our awareness genes on all the time and when the light bulb goes off take some action. Tom Cruise danced live on MTV awards as Les Grossman with J Lo. Set 6-7 minutes into the show, the skit became a top trending topic on twitter upped viewership.

Brian: You’re giving people something to talk about in social media that brings them back to other experiences

Mark: It’s awesome, frightening and terrifying. It’s evolving every day. One of the things you can do is to think about questions you can ask your audience live. You can play online at the same time and win prizes. Put yourself up against a fifth grader.

Mark has a remarkable gift for bringing people, story and places to life. One of the cool values of shows like Survivor is creating tourism for these places. Mark tries to give people a vicarious travel experience.

Brian asked . . . Regardless of what we think about Sarah Palin, how on earth did you pull off Sarah Palin’s Alaska off?

Mark answered . . .
His career up to now has been adventure. Alaska is one of his most favorite places. Most people don’t really know what’s there. He asked Sarah to give a Governor’s tour. People will be very surprised to see what he’s made.

No one has ever seen what we’re seeing now. Alaska is epic. It just goes on and on with snow fields, the film crew say 50 bears in 30 minutes, and 40 million salmon come through one bay. Every Alaskan gets a check every year. They get paid to live there every year.

This is just their family one summer doing stuff that a lot of Alaskans do.

Sarah Palin’s Alaska Reality Series TV Preview on the Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/15/sarah-palins-alaska-palin_n_764262.html

 Brian asked . . . Because of the sites, how do you see social media changing television and your business?

Mark responded . . . It’s exciting and terrifying. It’s your job and your program and you have to be choosing what works. He’s just trying to keep up. When he sees things that work that are repeatable and thematic, he sees easy casting choices like Jimmy Johnson and Sarah Palin. If he was going to focus now and see what will TV and social media be, playing game shows for prizes live will be the simplest form. There is someone in this room who will figure it out. There is huge money to be made in capturing eyeballs.

Disclosure: Thanks to BlogWorld New Media Expo for granting me a media pass that covered my registration.

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