CBC Gives ‘Shout’ out to New Social Media Platform Developed for Teen TV Show
A new social media network will carry ‘Shouts’ not ‘Tweets’ as it engages with a youth audience across the country.
As part of the new CBC interactive and television series Cross Country Fun Hunt, program producers will launch a newly-developed social media platform that’s described as a “safe, moderated, Twitter-like” environment, one designed to engage kids who already use digital and social media tools while also comforting parents who may be worried about the suitability of some online content.
Cross Country Fun Hunt asks young people across Canada to nominate special places and favourite communities as possible destinations for the show as it makes its way across the country.
The selected destinations and the kids themselves will be featured in a series of 22 webisodes, the first of which is now online. Then, in the fall, the TV series will make its debut with additional footage not seen before.
Produced by Montreal-based Apartment 11 Productions, the show will air during CBC’s Saturday school aged programming block.
Celebrity teen Jordan Francis hosts the show, and he and a small production crew are now on the road, planning to visit every province from British Columbia to Newfoundland.
Acquired footage is sent back to Apartment 11 regularly, where in-house editing, post production and audio facilities are used for a quick turn-around on the webisode and TV production.
With GPS-enabled updates appearing online, the tour is being tracked in real-time, and its uploading content regularly, including photos, videos and more – like the ‘Shouts’, which are slated to appear online very soon, as Mindy Laxer VP and GM of Apartment 11 Productions, explained in an interview with Mediacaster Magazine.
“Part of the plan for the show and the website was to make sure that parents’ are comfortable and kids’ are safe with the online components,” she emphasized. “So we’ll have this newly developed and carefully moderated social media feed, and the conversation will be posted online. Jordan will Shout out from the roadside, wherever he is on the trip, and we want young people to respond.”
She said that Apartment 11 has recently hired a full time social media coordinator, watching this show in particular but also contributing to an overall strategy at the production company – social media is a part of every show, and not an add-on or after-thought.
“Social media is a constant, and we are always working to keep the channels open and updated,” Laxer continued. “We absolutely see the results of these efforts in our shows and audiences, be they for kids or adults. The audience is in the driver’s seat with this show, and that’s the goal. Real-time interaction is key, and the chance to contact the show, not yet on the air, makes it a lot of fun.”
Fun for the producers, too, Laxer notes during work on the webisodes, the production team feels ‘this is the show’ and that ‘we’re making TV from the Web series, not the other way around.’
Dedicated Facebook pages are constantly monitored and updated for most of the Apartment 11 show portfolio, and unique or proprietary tools such as with the Fun Hunt social media feed are being developed to keep that real time feel alive.
It’s the overall show and companion online elements that Apartment 11 sees as having potential in the international marketplace, and the company will talk with other producers who want to customize the show for their country, she noted.
Here in Canada, online voting for a winning destination has been underway for some time, but the actual cross country road trip began just in the past week.
Kids help determine where Jordan films for the series and webisodes by voting online. Each destination with either text, a video or photo upload is a dot on the interactive Cross Country Fun Hunt virtual map which all can explore.
Canadian kids aged 16 and under have uploaded videos and photos showcasing the best of their towns at http://www.cbc.ca/kids/games/funhunt/
The tour and taping conclude with a special ‘grand finale concert’ to be held in the neighbourhood or town that gets voted “the funnest place in Canada!”
“The interactive component of this series makes the journey exciting and spontaneous,” said Jonathan Finkelstein, Founder and Executive Producer at Apartment 11 Productions. “Kids across Canada are creating a giant virtual map, and highlighting what they love about their local communities and we are thrilled to see this resource take shape.”
“The best part,” added show host Jordan Francis, “is kids everywhere will have a say on where this journey goes by voting online. I won’t know where I am going next, sometimes until the day before, when the votes are in.”
Already an established actor, singer and dancer, Francis also composes his own music and will be contributing original songs to the show.
A CBC original production, “Cross Country Fun Hunt” is produced by Montreal-based Apartment 11 Productions, with the participation of CBC Television, the Canada Media Fund, the Shaw Rocket Fund, the Bell New Media Fund, the Quebec Tax Credit Program administered by SODEC and the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit.