Gary Carter on new storytelling at nextMEDIA

Gary Carter, the chief operating officer of UK powerhouse Fremantle Media, explained to a packed theatre at the nextMedia Banff festival how new platforms are creatig new narratives that blur the lines between producers and audience. Carter is also the chief crative officer of FMX, Fremantle’s experimental division which focuses on broadband-enabled projects.

Fremantle started recognizing the changes in the industry when they created the “Idol” franchise, which transformed the company into a networked, globalized entity. But that change was nothing compared to the rise of interactive media. The revolutionary drops in expense to produce content have led to new ways of telling stories. For instance, for his grandmother documentation consisted of sparse photographs, wheras many people of his generation the amount of documentation of their lives rose tremendously. But the “analog years” were still times of scarcity, compared to the ease of use and accessibility of today’s media tools.

Even though production became democratized, there was still scarcity in terms of distribution, meaning there was a relationship between the advertiser, producer and broadcaster. The whole model was built on control, but with the internet this model is no longer tenable.

At first vast storage created the rise of reality tv, because you could store hours upon hours of footage and then shape it into a tv program. But another aspect of this shift is the rise of Susan Boyle, upending the conventional model of fame because the ease of distribution and storage means amateurs can be just as famous as carefully cultivated celebrities.

No mass media ever replace another, Carter said, but the relationship between them does shift, and the only people who decide how these mediums will be used are the audience themselves, not producers, funders or anyone else.

Currently, broadcasters are trembling and in decline in major markets, and production companies are starting to disappear. But its the platform that is changing, and with it the way stories are told.

But the challenge, he said, is for everyone to realize that no matter what happens, we are all storytellers, and that we will continue to tell stories no matter the platform.