Television Business International

Beat_Girl

Show of the week: Beat Girl

Beat Girl is a multiplatform series that started out on Pinterest, became an e-book, then a web series and is now launching on Hulu and as a movie. Ben Silverman’s Electus, meanwhile, has taken US remake rights. Nuno Bernardo, founder of transmedia production company beActive tells TBI about developing a movie the transmedia way.

Mulitplatform producer beActive had been looking at stories and ideas set in the world of dance music and felt, in 2010, that the time was right as the scene went from underground to mainstream powered by the global success of superstar DJs and producers such as David Guetta and Tiesto.

Having developed a few minutes of video around its idea of a female DJ in the dance music world, beActive was convinced there was the appetite to take it to the next stage. This didn’t involve taking the traditional route of pitching broadcasters and potential copro and funding partners, but involved embracing social media and pin-board photo-sharing site Pinterest.

“The first thing we did was Pinterest,” says beActive founder Nuno Bernardo. “It attracts a lot of women users and that was an audience we wanted to reach. Our story was very visual and the Pinterest platform is all about images.”

The production company duly set about creating a ‘fotonovela’, a comic book style set of pictures that relayed the story of Louise Dylan, the aspiring DJ and Beat Girl of the title. That attracted sufficient interest to justify publishing an e-book.

“We used online and social media to feed content to our target audience and get feedback and see if it resonates. If it does, we make it bigger and bigger and if not it dies. But if it does work, we know it already has an audience.”

The story was read 700,000 times, which convinced beActive to make two separate web series. The first 12x3mins show set the back story of the female lead and introduced a cast of secondary characters, effectively forming a prequel to the movie that was subsequently greenlit. A second web series, of the same length and duration, has launched. The web components launched on beActive’s YouTube channel, but are now extra deliverables as the project is being sold to broadcasters and platforms.

At this point, the development of Beat Girl took an uncharacteristically traditional turn with beActive going out and using tax credits and film finance mechanisms to raise the budget for the feature film that followed. The movie will have a limited theatrical release in the UK, Portugal and Ireland in early May and launch day and date on iTunes and various on-demand services including FilmFlex in the UK, meaning it will be on the on-demand service of UK cabler Virgin.

Content Television is selling the project internationally and has already sealed a license deal with Hulu in the US, which will debut it within weeks of the movie launch. It launched it internationally at MIPTV and Content will offer it in three formats: a 1x93mins movie, a 5x22mins TV series; and a 20x5mins shortform series.

The prospect of a US deal also looms after Ben Silverman’s Electus took US rights. A US commission would vindicate beActive’s ground-up, transmedia approach to developing projects and help set a new template for developing scripted series, delivering content with an in-built fan-base, rather than hoping something resonates once it has launched.

Bernardo concludes that it is a more transparent approach to creating programmes.

He says: “As story tellers and content creators we think can think of ourselves as gods and this is more honest way to create a project. It can also be crueller if the audience doesn’t like it, but we’d rather go to the audience than sit in a room for years developing something.”

The show: Beat Girl
The producer: beActive Entertainment
The distributor: Content Television
The broadcasters:  Hulu, various on-demand platforms
Concept: Multiplatform project that straddles Pinterest, e-books, web series and a feature film about an aspiring young female DJ