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What is the School of Bite?

The RTA School of Bite (S.o.B.) is a collaboration between broadcaster BiteTV, Ryerson’s RTA School of Media, the RTA Transmedia Centre, the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) and the Bell Broadcast and New Media Fund. S.o.B. is an experimental initiative that seeks to discover the future of media by nurturing a select team of creative individuals towards producing new media programming using comedy to engage audiences across multiple delivery platforms.

S.o.B. is a transmedia comedy lab. It is the intention of the RTA S.o.B. to explore the potential for a select creative team to envision and produce new concepts in comedy programming that leverage and demonstrate the possibilities for reaching audiences using digital media platforms. We are looking into the future of media by considering the future of funny.

The RTA S.o.B. program will choose 10 participants and provide support and expert mentoring, funding, production resources and seminars/workshops. Support will be provided with creative meeting space, production facilities and technical expertise via Blue Ant Media (BiteTV’s parent) and the RTA School of Media.

Initially, the group will operate in the manner of an ideation lab, generating ideas in content and delivery with the intention of finding new ways to reach modern audiences using comedy. Once the ideas have been refined to practicality, the group will evolve into something akin to a production company with the RTA S.o.B. serving an “incubator” function. S.o.B. is looking to produce 5 well-developed ideas to a point where they can be “field tested”, after considered promotion, through suitable distribution channels, some or all of which may be supplied by BiteTV.

The RTA S.o.B. is seeking to explore the future of media by nurturing a select team of creative individuals (10) towards producing new media programming using comedic storytelling to engage audiences. Program information and prototype projects will be featured on BiteTV’s S.o.B. web page as well as through RTA’s Transmedia Centre site. The ICTC will be conducting concurrent research into new media skills development using S.o.B. participants as a test group.

The Goal

The School of Bite is an experimental initiative that seeks to discover the future of media by nurturing a select team of creative individuals towards producing new media programming using comedy to engage audiences across multiple delivery platforms.

Projects will have two main components; one of content and one of delivery platform. The content must be something comedy related. The platform obviously must be suitable to reach the intended audience. These platforms include a full range of currently available distribution platforms (potentially broadcast, mobile, Web, including apps and potentially game delivery technologies such as consoles). RTA S.o.B. is adopting a “no rules” approach to discovery in both content and platforms. Our goal is to facilitate a creative team to generate experimental ideas in our comedy lab that we can subsequently field test for viability.

The Program

After team selection the group will embark on a path of enabled discovery. Support will come through a network of media professionals. These mentors will be drawn from RTA S.o.B. principals Jeffrey Elliott, Charles Falzon and Sam Punnett and their professional networks. Programming in the form of seminars and workshops will be provided to support the ideation process. Ideation, the generation of ideas, will be the primary task of the first phase of the S.o.B. S.o.B. will convene at Blue Ant Media and at Ryerson University meeting facilities made available for the team’s activities.

During the first phase S.o.B. will offer several workshop sessions in the following areas:

1. The State of Comedy - S.o.B. will offer a panel discussion on the industry of comedy. A discussion of what works and what doesn’t, the state of the business of comedy, live comedy and comedy a distributed through media in various formats new and traditional. Where are the current day challenges and opportunities?

Participants: Comedy industry legend Mark Breslin, Charles Falzon, 2 other participants.

2. Practitioners in Media - Producers discuss how comedy gets to market in the form of finished programming. A discussion of the media business, production values, formats, target audiences, sponsors. How comedy programming gets made, where it comes from, what might constitute new ideas for the medium. What constitutes a comic success?

Participants: BiteTV founder Jeffrey Elliott with 3 other participants.

3. Idea Generation - An overview of idea generation. S.o.B. participants will be marshalled through mediated exercises designed to catalyze the team’s abilities and to get them to radicalize how they generate ideas.

Participants: Sam Punnett and a creative facilitator.

4. The System - An overview of platforms, distribution channels, media business models, marketing methods and audiences. This will be a crash course in the realities of the media business and employing associated technologies. It will consist of food for thought with commentary on the nature of change in media – continued discussion of challenges and opportunities.

Participants: Sam Punnett and one other participant.

Ideation Process

Early on in the sequence of planned activities participants will be assigned survey duties, a kind of competitive analysis research, to examine comedy as it appears in media. Special attention will be given to innovative and new approaches applied to content and delivery. The focus will be placed upon initiatives that exploit interactivity or that address thinking about transmedia, telling aspects of the same story across multiple mediums. This inventory will be discussed in an ongoing basis as “fuel” for new ideas and practical discussion. What is expected is the unexpected.

Throughout the first phase of the program the team will document any and all ideas thought to merit future consideration. There will be ongoing documented discussion amongst team members and mentors. Late in the first phase all ideas will be considered on their merits for possible selection to enter production. The team will establish their criteria for this selection founded on the S.o.B. goal to produce experimental programming and available resources.

5 prototype ideas will be selected for production. Once this process of selection is completed the S.o.B. team will embark on the second stage of the program.

Production

The second stage of the program will find team members primarily working on their own with mentors available to lend advice and support. They will be expected to construct a production plan that incorporates script, technical specification, budget, talent, production resources, scheduling with considerations for subsequent marketing/promotion, commercialization and distribution. Upon completion of the production plans, projects will be allocated necessary resources, including funding and enter the production to prototype stage. All production prototypes will be featured through the BiteTV S.o.B. companion site.

Showcase

S.o.B. will host a showcase event that will be open to all participants and sponsors as well as anyone wishing to preview the work completed by the first team to emerge from the RTA S.o.B. program.

Eligibility

Applicants must be:

1) Students currently enrolled at Ryerson University and/or

2) Persons with a demonstrable interest in comedy and/or technical innovation using media

Using the application form prospective applicants will describe their skills and predisposition towards envisioning and inventing new approaches to using media to portray comedy. Their candidacy and selection will be determined by a panel of judges comprised of mentors and supporter/participants in directing the activities of the RTA S.o.B. This will be done through a combination of application reviews and interviews.