Thursday, January 05, 2012


I was cross-platform at a time… fifty-year ago… when the term platform was used mostly to refer to where the trains stopped. Or that elevated section at the end of the school Assembly Hall.

It was thus. And it was in Dallas, Texas. I had two part-time jobs while attending university. One was at a local cinema which opened only in the evening hours on weekdays and screened only ‘art movies’ mostly made in Europe. Shows were always timed to start at six, eight and ten. Although barely out of my teens I was designated ‘acting manager’ after the previous incumbent made off with the box-office takings.

My other earnings came from a local radio station which boldly featured two hours of classical music each evening from eight to ten. My British accent qualified me to present this program on the air and each afternoon I selected the music and wrote and pre-recorded the introductions.

It was relatively clear to me that there could well be an overlap of the cinema audience and the listeners favouring the classics. It was a simple step to introduce a barter arrangement whereby the radio station was advertised on the cinema screen and the current movie showing got a mention in the music show.

The next step was to pipe into the cinema the opening minute of the day’s radio program, trailering the wonderful music the listeners would be hearing. And the counterpart was a broadcast audio trailer for the next week’s movie.

To me that all sounds like a precocious cross-platform promotion exploit for which there was no precedent that I knew of in 1961. At the time, I must admit, I was enamoured as much with the sound of my own voice as with the young girls who sold the popcorn and candy at the cinema’s concessions counter.

Fast-forwarding to the seventies and to Paris where I was employed as the manager of a well-known photographer. But the business model was by no means limited to the soliciting of assignments from editorial and advertising clients. The photographer’s work reached those who bought lavish collectable coffee-table books in unprecedented numbers in several different countries. The photos were sold as limited edition prints at prestigious exhibitions in many big cities around the world. They were also made available as very affordable postcards and during that decade the poster versions were on the bedroom walls of many youngsters, most of them young girls who identified with the models portrayed. The signature ‘look’ of the photographer’s work translated well to the moving image and the sound-track albums of several movies were very popular. I doubt whether a cross-platform policy had ever before worked so well for a photographer.

Moving a bit closer to the end of the last century I found myself in Germany working as producer of serial drama on television, the genre commonly derided as ‘soap opera’. Although in those days there were no devices to compete with the conventional television set as a receiver of the ‘product’ in its primary form it was nevertheless possible to give access to the story-world in alternative media. There were spin-off novelizations and above all hit records by artistes and ensembles whose origins and first showcases were within the fiction of the ongoing storyline. This was, perhaps, cross-platform ‘light’.

And now… I write. I am the solitary author in his garret turning out the occasional novel (Golden Dawn is promoted shamelessly top-left on this page) destined to be almost completely ignored even by fans of the ‘civilized thriller’ genre.

I am wondering if the book I wrote is failing to be discovered because of a transmediality deficit. It exists only as a Kindle edition with ostensibly nothing to set it apart from hundreds of self-published manuscripts languishing on Amazon’s platform.

The ne’er-do-well husband of the heroine of Golden Dawn is a passionate videographer. Why are his clips not on YouTube? (Although Vimeo hosting would probably be better suited since some of the content would certainly be seen as ‘adult’ in spite of redeeming aesthetic values. And my long experience has never given me cause to doubt the adage that ‘sex sells’!).  

The heroine’s enigmatic companion is a talented artist. Why not a cycle of twenty-six drawings, one per chapter at least? Exhibitions could be organized in suitable cities. Buyers of a drawing would get the e-book as well and a live event is always a good promotional exercise.

Maybe this year I should step out of my lonely garret and go cross-platform once again. Of course I myself have no talent for drawing or painting. Nor do I have the wherewithal to pay those who would appear before my video camera. And when ‘on location’ means the Languedoc-Roussillon then further costs are implied.

Ay, there’s the rub!

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