One of the first native transmedia experiences in France, backed by Orange, followed a videoblogger’s encounters with the supernatural
By Rosie Lavan
PROJECT TITLE: FAITS DIVERS PARANORMAUX (Supernatural Oddities)
SHORT STORY SYNOPSIS: Multi-platform immersive project which took a humorous look at the paranormal. Spurred on by the mysterious disappearance of his brother Fred, JC records his interest in the paranormal on his videoblog. A TV series follows the attempts of JC, his wife Muriel, and mother-in-law Simone to make sense of supernatural occurrences, while users interacted and contributed to the fiction online, with the project culminating in an ARG, Finding Fred.
FORMAT: 26 x 4’50 TV episodes; 30 x web videos plus web and mobile content; ARG
PRODUCTION COMPANIES: Happy Fannie
FINANCIERS: CNC; Orange Cinéma Series
RELEASE DATES: February – April 2010
Faits Divers Paranormaux (FDP) was the first native French transmedia series, produced by Happy Fannie and backed by Orange. The story follows Jean-Christophe Dénarié, or JC, a freelance graphic designer whose interest in the paranormal dates back to the mysterious disappearance of his brother Fred some 20 years ago. His videoblog catches the attention of a TV company who decide to turn his findings into a reality TV show, which formed the television element of the project. Devised, written and directed by Jean-Christophe Establet, also behind Angels, the series blends realism and domestic comedy as it follows the investigations of JC and Muriel.
Before FDP hit screens, users were invited to submit their own content around the paranormal online. JC, Muriel and Simone, the main characters from the series, were all on Facebook for participants to find and interact with, and access to fdp-tv.com opened up games, special content and more opportunity for interaction with the growing FDP community. ‘Real world’ elements of the Finding Fred ARG asked players to participate via their mobile devices.
The TV series aired on Orange Ciné Choc in France, and in launching FDP the mobile network and media company was keen to stress its support for transmedia initiatives. Announcing the project, Orange emphasised that it was “progressively making available all its channels and services to support broader transmedia narration”. “Public and consumer tastes are changing in terms of media use,” it observed. “Passing naturally from one medium to another, they can follow their favourite content universe on all screens.”
For Happy Fannie, interactivity was the great strength of FDP. User immersion was designed to follow a crescendo: JC’s videoblogging began in February 2010, laying the ground for the TV series which followed in April and in the meantime encouraging followers to start submitting their own paranormal content and comments, and working towards culmination in Finding Fred, the paranormal treasure hunt of an ARG.
Users entered the fiction at fdp-tv.com, the main site and base for the community which grew up around the series. The site offered dedicated content – JC’s encyclopedia of the paranormal and profiles of the main characters, for example – and invited users to take part themselves. Competitions offered prizes from True Blood DVDs to tickets to film festivals. The call to find Fred was at the heart of the immersive experience of FDP. Players looked for clues in the real world, captured them on their mobiles and shared them with the series characters and other participants via their social network profiles. The engagement made possible through the site, according to Orange, turned FDP followers into “spect-actors”.
Figures collected for Happy Fannie indicate that the FDP site drew 25,000 visits, with 2,000 active participants.