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Crossover Scotland

Crossover Scotland is a programme of events and professional training that will enhance the development, vision, connectivity and ambitions of Scotland’s creative practitioners. There are 4 events as part of Crossover Scotland to promote collaboration and offer opportunities to imagine and develop new work.

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One week after the Crossover Scotland Development Lab in Dundee, the teams were reunited in Glasgow along with Crossover Labs director Mark Atkin and Grant Kier from Faction North. The individuals behind the projects had made their way to The CCA in Glasgow for a two day event, comprising of an intensive training day followed by the final pitch in front of an industry panel and live audience.

The pitch training kicked off with an introductory film on pitching projects to funders, one of the speakers on which was Ewan Angus from the BBC who would be on the panel the following day.

For the rest of the morning the projects were split into two groups, each one headed by Mark or Grant and a surprise appearance from Andrew Robertson from STV who had mentored on the development lab. These sessions allowed each team to reveal the pitches they had been developing over the past week to the group and receive some really intense constructive feedback from the other participants. This allowed for some aspects of the pitches to come under really close scrutiny and therefore be even further refined. All of the teams had been developing their ideas and presentations further since the close of the development lab and it was really useful to once again throw fresh eyes onto the changes. After these pitches were concluded, the groups broke for a working lunch of putting into action what had been raised during the morning.

We started the afternoon with a ‘Pitching 101’ talk from Grant, detailing the do’s and do not’s of presenting your idea to potential funders as well as some handy tips on how to structure slides. Then we mixed up the groups and repeated the mornings exercise after the suggested alterations had been made and comments taken on board. This gave all the projects another chance for final feedback, as well as fresh perspectives from different people than in the morning session. After this the teams dispersed around Glasgow to work on streamlining their pitches in preparation for the live pitch the next day.

Everybody was at The CCA bright and early on the day of the pitch, preparing themselves to face the funders. The panel arrived and took their positions, they consisted of Ewan Angus (BBC Scotland), Marianne Maxwell (NTFS), Stuart Cosgrove (Channel 4) and Mark Thomas (Creative Scotland). Scott Donaldson form Creative Scotland was also in attendance as was Andrew Robertson from STV. Almost all of the pitches managed to fit into the tight seven minute limit and if they ran over they were soon halted by an alert from the squeaky dog toy. All of the teams pitched brilliantly and received some really interesting advice and thoughts from the panel. The event ran without a hitch and then there was a chance for some networking over lunch afterwards. The panellist were genuinely impressed by the pitches and teams behind them and some expressed intentions to follow up on talks with projects, possibly with a view to collaboration.

It was incredible to see projects that had been first been formed from crews which came out of the Crossover Scotland Creative Lab, pitching full formed ideas to a panel of industry experts. There was a general feeling from the participants that the whole experience had been very useful and that they had not only come away with some great contacts but also a whole new perspective on pitching projects. Everybody who answered the survey said that it had changed the way they pitch projects now and in the future.

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On the 27th of April 2014 twenty-one individuals from across the worlds of film, theatre, apps and digital media converged on Dundee to take part in the four day Crossover Scotland Development Lab. Between them they brought a total of 10 exciting projects at varying stages of development which would be taken on a journey from idea to reality, through rigorous stress testing and reworking with the help of the Crossover Lab experts and a dedicated team of industry professional mentors.

The lab kicked off at the Malmaison Dundee, which would be home to the teams for the next few days, on the evening of the 27th. After breaking the ice with some truths and lies about ourselves we all sat down for dinner and soon after hit the sack to prepare for the intense sessions ahead.

Monday saw the beginnings of the lab proper. The teams started off by pitching their projects to one another and then pitching the other team’s project to the group as a whole. This quickly identified areas which were either not made clear enough or omitted from the current style of pitching. With this in mind we got thinking about the end user who we wanted to engage with the project. Wielding scissors, glue and post-it’s the teams set about forming their personas with zeal. Once full formed, they then imagined how their persona would travel through their ‘Digital Day’ and at which points they could come into contact with the participants realised ideas, followed by creating user journeys.

These exercises were then followed up with the first of many ‘Watering Holes’ in which the attendees met with Mentors to report progress and receive feedback. Despite this only being the first day of the lab, there were a number of key realisations made and by the evening teams were busy discussing new directions and ideas.

On Tuesday morning we started getting to grips with the essentials of a cross-platform treatment, led by Mark Atkin. Following this the teams started to create mood boards and adjective word clouds which would help to guide the two local designers (Lyall Bruce and Stuart Cockburn) in their creation of logos, templates and style for the projects.

In the afternoon the teams set about creating value propositions, honing their propositions to appeal to funders. The second group of watering holes took place though the afternoon, with the teams meeting with different mentors to get new perspectives on their projects.

Wednesday would use both halves of our brains, kicking off with the elevator pitch. The teams got to work on creating 140 character pitches which they could reel off in the event of being stuck in a lift with a potential funder. The elevator pitches also worked as a really great way to sum up all the key aspects of the projects in a few moments at the start or end of a pitch. After some pretty heartfelt pitches, we settled down for a revealing insight into what a cross platform proposition should look like in its final form. More watering holes followed and then we broke for a working lunch of discussions and pitch planning.

Post lunch we got down to nitty-gritty of crewing and budgeting a cross platform project. Grant Kier, from Faction North, and Mark Atkin led an example exercise where we worked out the roles that would be required for a ‘Bucket list’ TV show and interactive website. Once it was fully crewed we worked out the estimated costs and plotted them onto a great big project timeline. Then it was the turn of the teams to add their own fully crewed, fully budgeted project timelines to their pitches and face the mentors once again in the watering holes.

We started the final morning with a short presentation on ‘The Five Stories of Multiplatform Pitching’ and then got straight into the final set out watering holes focussed on ironing out any remaining issues before the final pitches of the lab after lunch. Each team delivered their presentations with enthusiasm and encouragement from the rest of the lab.

Overall, all of the projects and individuals felt that they had benefitted from the lab citing it as ‘useful’, ‘interesting’ and ‘illuminating’, as well as a general feeling that they had made some excellent contacts both in the expert mentors and other attendees of the lab, that they would not ordinarily have made.

It was clear to everyone that every single project had come a long way from where it had started only a few days previously. Some had honed and refined their projects to give a much clearer and attractive proposition to potential funders, while other projects had undergone significant transformations to better achieve their key purpose. Either way, all of the projects involved left the lab in a much more market ready state than when they had arrived.

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The Crossover crew rolled in to Edinburgh’s Malmaison for 4 days of intense brain storming, speakers and pitching at the Crossover Scotland Creative Lab. Ran by Grant Keir from Faction North along with Chris Dymond from Crossover Labs and joined by a host of guest speakers, the Lab was a fantastic week of connecting and learning.

Arriving on the evening of Monday 25th March, the ice was broken before an entertaining talk from screen writer and Vine extraordinaire Phillip Larkin who explained the freedom he finds in creating such short content. He also set the ‘Entertainment Challenge’ to be performed on Vine on the Wednesday. Everyone had dinner and then retired for an early night, there was a lot to get through over the next 4 days.

Day 1 was straight in to it as Chris and Grant introduced the rules the group would be working by for the week. De Bono’s hats were to be used to give feedback, green for positives, yellow for constructive suggestions and black for negatives. People would be given the ‘hats’ to wear to encourage the most useful feedback. The Idea Wall was also introduced where every idea conceived would be placed. From there attendees begun the cycle of breaking in to groups and inspiration-brainstorm-pitch that would run through the whole lab. The first inspiration was newspaper cuttings from the days newspapers and groups were given a platform and genre with which to work their ideas around. In the afternoon we were joined by Channel 4′s Games Commissioner Colin Macdonald who talked us through the design, delivery and release of The Snowman and the Snowdog, the app accompaniment to the TV show of the same name which proved to be a big success.

For day 2 we were joined by 2 brilliant guest mentors, Inspiration Day speaker Marianne Maxwell and Jonathan Charles from Hippotrix. Marianne discussed her work at National Theatre of Scotland, particularly where they draw their inspiration for their performances, setting teams the challenge of creating a work that exists out on the streets. Hippotrix specialise in film, tv and interactive content for children and he explained the ethos behind the work he and his team do and how they moved in to the interactive space before setting the teams the task of creating a product for children. Teams spent the evening was working on their Vines as Day3 would see them being presented.

Dundee University’s Mel Woods came down to Edinburgh for the third day to give a presentation about Serendipity and the science behind how creative ideas are formed and therefore how we can engineer our days to allow  for more creative sparks of ideas. The afternoon was for the Ideas Market, where everyone on the lab picked which project they wanted to develop from all the ideas that had come up during the lab, eventually ending up with 4 ideas that groups developed around which were to be worked on during the final day. The evenings entertainment was provided by the teams Vines which were pitched to ‘funders’ aka other lab attendees who gave feedback on the projects. Phillip Larkin had clearly done a great job as the Vines were brilliant.

There was no time to wind down on Day 4 as Crossover Labs director Mark Atkin came up to Edinburgh for the final day to discuss the opportunities of crafting products and experiences that span media formats. After his talk the teams worked on personas and user journeys for their ideas before they pitched their projects for one final time.

People left the lab with a whole new way of developing ideas along with a bulging bag of ideas that they can work on. The most useful thing people left with however was the connections they’d made on the lab and the opportunities that woking with others afforded them. Feedback both from questionnaires and anecdotally suggested that doing the lab meant people met creatives from so many different industries and backgrounds that they now felt they could call on and work with in the future.

Crossover Scotland Inspiration Day

‘This is what our workflow looks like’ explains Marianne Maxwell, producer at National Theatre of Scotland as a mess of red lines sits on screen. ‘It works for us but how are we supposed to explain that to people in other industries?’

That mess of red lines explains as succinctly as anything else why collaborating with people across disciplines is difficult and is just one of the challenges that the Crossover Scotland programme aims to overcome.

Crossover Scotland Inspiration Day, a day of talks and networking for creative practitioners from across disciplines was the inaugural event of the Crossover Scotland programme, a series of events and labs designed to encourage and facilitate the creation of projects and products via collaboration across disciplines.

The day featured 5 speakers from across the creative disciplines, beginning with Jeanie Finlay who took us through her career as it morphs from artist to filmmaker ‘telling quiet stories loudly’, finishing on her experiment with crowd sourcing content for her new doc ‘Orion’. Shay Moradi followed Jeanie, explaining the ethos behind his digital agency Running in the Halls and advocating the use of pyrotechnics in the creative process ‘Lay out the features of the product on the table and then set the table on fire. What are the things you save?’ Rhianna Pratchett, the day’s third speaker shared her experience of writing for the much misunderstood art of videogames.   ‘Blowing things up in games is easy, its 2 people having a conversation that’s hard. What’s cheap in a game is expensive in a film and what’s cheap in film is the most expensive and time consuming part of a games narrative development’.

Things were mixed up after the break with a game of massively multiplayer thumb war, inspired by Jane McGonigal. The game was a success in both literally bringing people together and shaking off the post-break malaise and we also found that there were a couple of thumb war grand masters in the audience.

Marianne Maxwell was the days penultimate speaker and as well as highlighting the organisations freeform creative process explained the extraordinary way the National Theatre of Scotland operates a ‘theatre without walls’. Rohan Gunatillike finished the day off on a calming note, describing the process and history of his new mindfulness app ‘Buddhify 2’ and what he learnt from the process of developing and releasing the first Buddhify.  ’Buddhify wasn’t big enough. It was a proof of concept, enter Buddhify 2. It’s a LOT better; it’s got great fonts’

At the end of the day attendees had a chance to discuss the talks and mingle with other attendees from different disciplines and left with lots of new ideas and contacts.

Crossover Scotland Inspiration Day was the first part of the Crossover Scotland programme and saw the opening of applications for the Creative Lab and Development Lab for Scotland’s creative practitioners. For more info about the labs follow the links or contact ben@sidf.co.uk

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