“Information is not enough. If all you are going to do is give information to your audiences, you are mostly wasting your time; whatever media, platforms or formats you intend to use.” This was the provocative opening statement with which I began the AMS pre-summit workshop on 25 May 2015.
Through the workshop, I continued to provoke and challenge the “fixed patterns” and traditional ways of filling programmes that are seen all over the world, not just in Asia. There are hundreds of thousands of different format combinations and new programmes waiting to be developed, yet worldwide we continue to copy the same small range of formats, sometimes paying large amounts of money for formats from other broadcasters, when developing your own new formats is relatively straightforward. This one day workshop aimed to equip participants with the tools they need to develop endless numbers of new formats, in all media, and for any platform. Judging by the enthusiasm of the participants, the claim was largely fulfilled, as they left the one day event with handouts and new expertise, feeling they could indeed broaden the range and variety of formats they produce.
Participants ranged from network and station managers, to producers and directors, to heads of training, department heads, reporters and chief editors. Countries represented amongst the 23 participants included Bhutan, China, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.
The workshop covered three main areas.
The Ten Formats in Media; This part of the workshop explored the ten unique formats in media, their strengths and weaknesses and the different platforms, media and purposes they can be used for.
Creative Innovation and Combining Formats: which explored the genres and styles within each format and how to play creatively with formats, combining them to create limitless innovation and creation of new programmes and content across all media.
The exercise using ‘random combination’, sees excellent new programme ideas emerge every time. This occasion was no exception, and participants were persuaded that this playful and creative way of developing new programme ideas was quick and efficient.
How Formats Work with Story explored the relationship between Story and Format, first by introducing a concise but powerful approach to story structure and then applying it to how each format deals with story differently. Participants played with how different types of stories can be delivered in many different ways through creative use of formats.
This highly interactive workshop concluded with practical exercises to experiment with creating cross media formats and innovating with formats. Although a one day workshop can only introduce a limited amount of theory, as this was combined with creative exercises, games and practice, participants felt they had been introduced to a very different way of looking at format development across platforms and media, and by the end of the day had to agree that indeed, information alone is not enough.
By Turan Ali, Director of international media training centre, RNTC, The Netherlands