WHO IS JAMES K. WIGHT?
In short, I’m a US/UK dual-national, with an avid interest in transmedia (multi-platform) storytelling.
In terms of education, I studied Japanese and Film and Television at the University of East Anglia. I am conversational in German, French, and Japanese, and have always been a bit of a polyglot. But I am most interested in pop-culture analysis, and engaging with media in a post-digital landscape.
I spent one year studying Japanese language and media at Meiji Gakuin University in Tokyo, before returning to complete my undergraduate back in Britain.
After that, I went straight on graduate with distinction from my MA in International Film Business. This was a course offered between the University of Exeter and The London Film School. I covered a lot of the creative side of giving script-coverage, creative management, and script-writing which is what I hope to continue doing in the future.
This was also where I studied the business side of production and creative management, and where became enthralled by transmedia storytelling. I preferred to think of this less as “business v. creative” and saw it more as a harmonising the two.
My MA thesis, entitled: Evolving the Transmedia Philosophy: How Modern Production Must Move Beyond Spin-Offs, Out-Licencing, and Merchandising to Create an Authentic Consumer-Driven Experience, went into greater detail on moving away from older business models, and striving to create more immersive content for the 21st Century audience.
Hence the focus of this blog.
I have a bit of an odd backstory when it comes to my exposure to pop-culture. Having a dual US/UK identity gives you a bit of an odd perspective of the world, and you can more easily pick apart what your country thrives in. Add in a healthy love of Japanese soft-power and Media-Mixes, and you have a strangely unique perspective of the global cultural landscape.
When I was younger – around 3 or 4 – I had a VHS copy of the first few episodes of Max Fleischer’s Superman from the 1940s. From that point on, I was hooked on the appeal of the superhuman, and possibly knew that decades years I would delve into every last aspect of Pop-Culture America. Whether it was comics, blockbuster films, animation, action figures, or even the cheap straight-to-VHS spin-offs, it was that love of media that propelled me from childhood to adulthood.
On the British side of things, I had an early exposure to comedy and music that seemed to make a global impact. Music especially was due in part due to the cultural impact of the 90s “Cool-Britannia” push. It felt far-more localised than any of the world-wide American stuff out there, and the majority of what I watched was stuff that never made as big an impact in the States – at least not in the same form. But it did offer a unique perspective on global and national, pop-culture.
JOURNEY TO THE EAST
I think my love of Japan is more generational than anything. Growing up Japan was absolutely everywhere – especially after “Pokémania”. Everything on Fox Kids or Toonami had their Japanese animé, robot, or monster equivalent, and other ‘Media Mix’ equivalents became big business for US networks. Japan’s coolness factor was in everything from tech, to video games, to the real-world history of samurai and ninjas.
Even previously All-American properties were heavily influenced by Japan and we’re still feeling the impacts today.
It was only later that I truly looked into Japanese culture. I discovered more about the history, beliefs, religions, practices, and language to the point where I pursued it to university. It even became the topic of my undergraduate dissertation: Do Robots Have Souls? – a look at how cultural-specific-religions have influenced the perception of robots and technology in pop-culture.
Since then, I have studied the language, worn a male kimono, participated in a tea ceremony, had a go at Shotokan Karate, received a government JASSO scholarship, learned how to do sumi-e painting (stylised Japanese ink painting), and even acquired an Aime arcade pass for the arcades in Akihabara – where I highly recommend Taiko-no-Tatsujin (太鼓の達人 – literally, “Taiko Drum Master”) for anyone visiting … purely for academic reasons of course.
SO … WHY TRANSMEDIA?
One of my mentors absolutely hated the term ‘Transmedia’. It conjured up all sorts of images of cheap straight-to-VHS cash grabs, spin-offs that never matched up to the real thing, or goofy stuff like having a kid’s action figure line based on the R-Rated movies of the day.
But that was all before the digital age, and I like to think we’re moving away from the exploitable IP approach to strategizing a thoroughly thought out story engagement – especially given how platform neutral our current media landscape is. Heck, on Amazon alone you can buy video games, read comic books, watch film and television programmes – all from a single device. We are in the golden age of convergence media.
It was admittedly bit of an odd pick of topic for one of the youngest in the class at the London Film School. I was surrounded by upcoming arthouse directors, documentarians, film festival enthusiasts, and those looking to make a bold dramatic statement in the world of cinema; tackling real-world, hard-hitting issues of the modern day.
… and I was tackling the twentieth Marvel movie, Transformers 5, Detective Pikachu, and doing market research; whilst balancing my own creative endeavours.
Not to say that arthouse cinema isn’t appealing to me – it absolutely does have its own appeal. But I think there’s a real merit in seeing how we are function as a society by looking at what some often dismiss as ‘just another franchise’, ‘not another superhero movie’, or ‘straight-to-Netflix’.
What better way to measure the heartbeat of society than by looking at the most commercial, multi-platform entertainment that we engage with on a daily basis?
In the digital age the way we consume media has radically changed. We have access to literally billions of hours of entertainment online, we can engage in discussion on online forums, and we’ve reached the age the Instagram-politician.
The multi-platform has not only transformed how we consume media, but how we perceive reality itself.
That’s why I started this blog – I figured that it was about time to explore the multi-platform, and how the modern consumer engages with media.
Should any of what I’ve said appeal to you, then please follow, share, or even contact me.
Until then, feel free to peruse The Transmedia Blueprint.