How the project came about
Within the framework of an optional workshop (called shortcom committee), sixteen students in their first year of training at the Ecole Supérieure des Métiers de l'Audiovisuel (Inasup-classe alpha) were asked to produce a pilot for a TV series in a short format, in 3 episodes between January and April 2021. Three students joined the team to develop the transmedia part (additional content and making-of).
A constraint? A precise set of specifications.
The aim? To respond to an order for social change.
To place the learners in a participatory process, the class of 2020-2021 was asked to choose a social issue: mental health was chosen. The educational target of this project is to produce a fictional video (script, shooting, post-production). The methodology remains similar to what Inasup is used to developing in project-based teaching. From pre to post-production, including shooting, the stages remained identical to those of a classic audiovisual project.
No technical supervision was given to the students. Group work and self-direction were encouraged so that the students could take full ownership of the project and develop their power to act: empowerment. This fiction remains a student work that can be technically perfected. The versions presented here are prototypes illustrating an innovative approach: entertainment education.
This concept is defined as a communication strategy that incorporates educational and social issues into the process of creating, producing and broadcasting an entertainment programme, with the aim of bringing about social change among the users of the media concerned.
The birth of entertainment-education is linked to the curiosity of one man for a successful programme: Miguel Sabido. A producer and director with a background in theatre, Sabido is credited with theorising entertainment-education after studying for two years the success of a telenovela in the 1970s. From this research, Sabido drew four founding theories which he used to develop a methodology to design fiction and to help media professionals to address the issue of education for social change.
Entertainment Education added an active partnership with social actors, some of whom were also present at the time of writing, notably the Maison Perchée.
The association acted as a consultant in order to be as close as possible to the reality of the chosen theme. Students had to comply with the recommendations, in particular to create fictional but plausible characters. They learned to be creative under a certain constraint. To do this, they also carried out in-depth research in the form of journalistic investigations. All the information gathered was used to form a basis for defining social objectives to guide the writing workshop.
The theme of mental health is a sensitive one. They were careful about how they approached it, especially as we only had three months to process all the stages of making the episodes. In order to respect these deadlines and not to feed clichés, they relied on the recurrences observed in the speeches of the social actors, those among them that were unanimously agreed upon.
During the three months, they went through all the stages according to the Sabido methodology:
- Formative research
- Development of social objectives
- Writing: characters and plot
- Validation of the script by the partners
- Preparing the shooting
- Testing the episodes on a target audience.
Pitch : Two sisters are trying to climb the carrer ladder in a webTV, one is a producer, the other a columnist.
The added value of transmedia
Transmedia is a strategy that encourages the target audience to actively participate in a coordinated storyline on different media platforms. The main advantage of transmedia is that it offers complementary content on different media platforms, thus giving more depth to the narrative and the universe created.
Each piece of content sheds light on a character, the plot, the issues or a social question and enriches the fiction in various ways. As each media is constructed in an autonomous way, it leaves a real freedom to the spectators to consult it and does not jeopardize the understanding of the basic fiction. On the contrary, it only enriches it. Each narrative element is independent and can deepen certain aspects according to the desired objective.
We have chosen to develop two types of content revolving around the web series Hors-Cadre to illustrate the added value of transmedia:
- An additional content, created in collaboration with La Maison Perchée, is intended to raise promote of the association through the character of Nathalie, Anaïs' mother. Faced with her questions following her daughter's hospitalisation, she decides to find out more in order to best support her daughter through this ordeal.
- A short making-of film has been edited in 4 parts. It allows us to discover the behind-the-scenes production of the shortcom and also to follow the students in the different phases of production since January 2021.