More Stories, More Rights: Films & Games in Frankfurt

In What's the Buzz by Hannah Johnson

By Hannah Johnson

It’s not news to anyone that the rights business is expanding all the time. Technology has enabled more people and companies to create more content faster than ever before. According to Britta Friedrich, Director of Creative Industries for the Frankfurt Book Fair, these technological developments are giving rise to new points of convergence among the publishing, games and film industries.

“Along with the traditional literary adaptation model, there are opportunities for new forms of collaboration,” says Friedrich. “In the past, the focus was on a linear process of first creating content, then selling the rights. Now, transmedia collaborations are also finding their way into that process. Such cross-media partnerships start much earlier in the creative process and can involve simultaneous content development. Rights and licensing discussions are now also about revenue sharing and strategic partnerships.”

Britta Friedrich

Britta Friedrich, Director of Creative Industries, Frankfurt Book Fair

Friedrich’s mission is to connect book publishing to other industries like films and games through rights and cross-media cooperation. She helped to launch the Frankfurt Book Fair’s StoryDrive conference last year with the goal to “bring all branches of the media and entertainment industries together under one roof” and create a rights marketplace for content and stories of all kinds.

“The program of the StoryDrive conference has been conceptualized so that it serves two main functions,” explained Friedrich. “On the one hand, it is a space for ideas and workshops, and for hands-on practice — how to pitch to a Hollywood producer, how to approach a game developer, how to tell if a book is appropriate for film/game adaptation. On the other hand, it provides an opportunity for participants with an explicit interest in new projects to initiate deals through organized match-making and pitch sessions.”

Publishers and literary agents have been selling film rights for decades. Frankfurt first addressed this with its Film & Media Forum in 2003, and StoryDrive is the natural next step. “Literary adaptations account for more that 30% of all international film productions — and that number is growing,” says Friedrich. Hollywood is always on the lookout for good stories. The old formulas for success in Hollywood are coming under scrutiny, but a good story is still the key to success.”

However, the video game industry has only recently begun to search for stories from outside sources. Friedrich explained: “For games, buying and selling rights is a relatively new development. In the past, this young industry concentrated primarily on technological innovation and gameplay. Today, thanks to this rapid technological innovation, the games industry is in a position to tell increasingly complex stories, which is a key factor in helping to develop working relationships with other entertainment industries like film and publishing.”

In order to help publishers build new relationships in the film and games industries, StoryDrive will add a business center along with the conference program, featuring networking and matchmaking events. The StoryDrive business center will be located near the Literary Agents Centre in Hall 6 this year, which means Frankfurt will offer an entire exhibition hall devoted to the rights business. With an expanded StoryDrive conference, Friedrich hopes to entice participants interested in “forging relationships outside their own industries, or looking for new ideas and partners. It is a natural business opportunity.”

StoryDrive will take place during the Frankfurt Book Fair (12-16 October 2011). Learn more about the upcoming StoryDrive conference and film rights in Frankfurt at www.storydrivefrankfurt.com.

This article originally appeared in Publishing Perspectives’ print edition at the London Book Fair 2011. You can download our LBF print edition (PDF) to read more.

About the Author

Hannah Johnson

Twitter

Hannah Johnson is the Publisher of Publishing Perspectives. Before joining PP in 2009, she worked as Project Manager at the German Book Office New York.