Canadian production company harnesses social media, international team to create unprecedented interactive documentary experience

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Canadian production company harnesses social media, international team to create unprecedented interactive documentary experience

Multiplatform transmedia content and targeted online marketing pulls thousands of fans into Battle Castle universe before tv documentary series broadcasts.

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The Malbork Castle page, part of Battle Castle’s interactive documentary experience.

Vancouver, B.C. – Medieval Media Inc., a Vancouver-area production company, has created an unparalleled immersive online world for its upcoming action documentary series Battle Castle.

The six-part series, which profiles legendary medieval castles and their epic sieges, premieres on History Television on Feb. 23, 2012. But with hundreds of people talking about it on Facebook and analytics showing a social media reach of more than 1 million, it seems like the show has already aired.

“What we wanted to do with Battle Castle was create something where people could engage,” says Maija Leivo, Executive Producer.

“What we’re seeing is people who are following the property on Twitter or Facebook saying ‘Hey this picture’s great’ or ‘I love this footage’, and that’s exciting for us.”

“The major buzz over the last 6-9 months is all about the social TV and how social media is allowing the audience to interact with content, often live or synchronous to broadcast,” says Annelise Larson, Search and Social Media Expert.

“Battle Castle hasn’t even broadcast yet and on Facebook almost half of the fans are already actively engaged and excited. I have not seen that on any other page.”

The interactive documentary experience, which includes a high-concept website, episodic motion comics, and a browser-based adventure game, has worldwide partners.  The broadcast series is co-produced by London-based Ballista Media Inc. The Convergent Media component is co-produced by Agentic Communications Inc. with collaboration from Starlight Runner Entertainment, a New‐York based transmedia company that has worked on projects including TRON, Transformers, and Avatar.      

“We know audiences today are very fragmented. Successful new media projects are ones that have the same creative team working across all content and platforms,” says Andra Sheffer, Executive Director of Bell Broadcast and New Media Fund, of which the Battle Castle project was a recipient.

“Battle Castle is a rich environment and immersive world with an interactive design that allows users to experience the siege of castles. Its well-designed social media promotional activities which are created to drive traffic in a meaningful way are excellent.”

In a shifting climate marked by shrinking budgets, changing guidelines, and dwindling broadcast licences, the Battle Castle universe is a place where filmmakers are connected with their audience, social media advertising has high-value return, and content is king.

“To most people, castles mean something. Whether it's fairytales or knights, we know that from a popular storytelling standpoint or from a history standpoint, castles are really engaging. But it was hard to convince people that we could get this ground swell of support around it,” says Leivo.

“Cultivating the Battle Castle universe has helped us to become a master of our own destiny. We’ve always wished and prayed that we had big advertising budgets that we could, as filmmakers, put signs in bus stops to promote our content and expose people to our content. We still can’t afford to do that. But social media is the modern equivalent of going door-to-door.”

In an industry rich in social media consultants and strategists, Medieval Media Inc. credits an in-house approach to online storytelling for the unparalleled success Battle Castle has seen as an interactive pre-broadcast documentary experience.

“I think you assume going into something like this is that somebody knows better than you do.  So you spend a lot of time reaching out to find someone to rescue you. To use our Battle Castle metaphor, you’re looking for the knight in shining armor to come in and save the day,” says Leivo.

“And what you realize is that, each one of these projects, no matter what your content, is going to be unique. You can’t count on someone else being able to use your content to its maximum potential. No one knows it as well as you do.”

And in the changing face of documentary filmmaking, storytelling and information, fostering unique, content-oriented, high-concept audience engagement ensures the Battle Castle universe will live on. 

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To enter the Battle Castle universe, please visit us on the web (www.battlecastle.tv) on Facebook (www.facebook.com/battlecastle) or on Twitter (www.twitter.com/battlecastle).

For a selection of high-res downloadable promotional stills, please visit our media Flickr set (http://www.flickr.com/photos/battlecastle/sets/72157629310442499/).

Media Contact: Nicole Tomlinson - 778-829-4915, nicole@parallaxfilm.com, @ntomlinson

More about Battle Castle

The Battle Castle action documentary series and its interactive online world bring to life mighty medieval fortifications and the epic sieges they resist: clashes that defy the limits of military technology, turn empires to dust, and transform mortals into legends.

The Battle Castle documentary series is a Ballista Media and Medieval Media production in association with Shaw Media and Discovery Knowledge UK and produced with the participation of the Canada Media Fund – Fonds des Medias du Canada, Rogers Cable Network Fund, the Province of British Columbia Film Incentive BC, the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit and the Bell Broadcast and New Media Fund.  Developed with the participation of British Columbia Film and the assistance of the National Screen Institute – Global Marketing Program. Battle Castle is a Canada-United Kingdom Co-Production.

Battle Castle convergent media is an Agentic Communication and Medieval Media production in association with Shaw Media and produced with the participation of the Canada Media Fund – Fonds des Medias du Canada and the Bell Broadcast and New Media Fund. Developed with the participation of British Columbia Film Convergent Media Development Fund.

Medieval Media is wholly owned by Parallax Film Productions.