franchises

Phase 4: What’s Next for the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

[warning: SPOILERS for Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home]


This summer saw the end of an epic run of films from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), that began in 2008 with Iron Man, and finished with the epic crossover Avengers: Endgame and its follow-up, Spider-Man: Far From Home. The 22 MCU films ended with a goodbye to Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark, coming full circle.

But of course, like any good comic book storyline, the end is never really the end. While for the first time in a very long time Disney’s Marvel Studios currently doesn’t have another movie in the can and ready to go, it does have multiple projects in pre-production. It won’t be long before Phase 4 and Marvel dominate the box office once again, with both brand new characters as well as some familiar faces…

Black Widow

The long-rumored solo film for Scarlett Johansson’s original Avenger, Black Widow, is finally coming to pass. A key difference between Phase 4 and the first three MCU phases (besides a lack of Robert Downey, Jr. and Chris Evans) will be the clear push to bring more diversity to a franchise that saw 20 out of 22 (that’s 91%) of its films helmed by and starring white men. Black Widow was one of the major casualties of the war against Thanos in Endgame, but it’s presumed this film, co-starring David Harbour (Stranger Things), Rachel Weisz (The Favourite), and Florence Pugh (Midsommar), will be a prequel about how Black Widow was originally trained as a Russian spy and first earned all that red in her ledger. The film will be one of the first for Phase 4, expected to release sometime next year and continue a streak the MCU hasn’t broken since 2009.

Eternals

Another of Phase 4’s earliest projects is Eternals, which is based on one of Marvel’s more obscure cosmic, space-based properties. The last time the MCU announced they were making a big budget adaptation of weird space creatures no one ever heard of, many assumed it would end in dismal failure—however Guardians of the Galaxy turned out to be one of Disney’s greatest hits. This film may prove the same, and fills the star power vacuum left by Robert Downey, Jr. by putting Angelina Jolie front and center. Jolie will be joined in the cast by Richard Madden, Gemma Chan, Salma Hayek, Brian Tyree Henry, and Kumail Nanjiani. The lineup isn’t just racially diverse and full of women—rumor has it the film will also feature the MCU’s first openly gay superhero.

Thor: Love and Thunder

One of the most beloved films of the first three phases was Thor: Ragnarok, written and directed by New Zealander Taika Waititi. Waititi will return for Thor 4, along with Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, and Natalie Portman, who hasn’t prominently featured in the MCU since 2013’s Thor: The Dark World. Portman is rumored to be playing the Jane Foster female version of Thor, wielding Mjölnir in a plotline from the comics. And while, because of confusing rights issues with Universal, there’s still no second solo Hulk film in the works, here’s hoping Mark Ruffalo and Professor Hulk will return to the MCU to re-form The Revengers with his old pals Thor and Valkyrie.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

That’s one kooky title but we’ve come expect the unexpected from one of the MCU’s trippiest franchises, Doctor Strange. Benedict Cumerbatch’s Sorcerer Supreme had a great run in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame arguably saving the day by saving Tony and showing him how to beat Thanos, so it’s no surprise Doctor Strange 2 is a priority for Marvel. He won’t be alone either—Elizabeth Olsen will be joining him as the Scarlet Witch, another powerful superhero whose powers defy conventional science. As for the Multiverse in the title? That opens up a lot of possibilities—Mysterio’s claims of a multiverse turned out to be a ruse in Spider-Man: Far From Home, but if parallel universes do exist in the MCU, maybe we’ll even get to see an alternate Earth where Tony Stark still lives and breathes…

What If…?

Speaking of a multiverse… While the Netflix MCU-adjacent shows have all come to an end, you’ll still be able to find Marvel on the small screen when the release of Disney’s streaming service, Disney+, comes out later this year. One of these shows will be anthology series What If…?, which will show one-off alternate versions of the MCU. It’s not yet known if the animated series will simply be “what if” fantasies or if they will be actual alternate dimensions that co-exist within the MCU—but with Jeffrey Wright (Westworld) voicing the all-seeing Watcher, the latter is certainly a possibility. So far the series has lined up many familiar names to reprise their roles in alternate versions; the pilot will feature Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter and ask, “What if Peggy had taken the super soldier serum instead of Steve Rogers?”

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

The first MCU series debuting on Disney+ will be The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, who have become close buddies since the events of Captain America: Civil War. The question is if this show be taking place after the events of Avengers: Endgame, when—just like in the comics—Steve Rogers retired and gave Sam Wilson, the Falcon, the mantle of Captain America, along with his vibranium shield. One thing we do know is that supervillain Baron Zemo (Daniel Brühl) will be returning from Civil War in one form or another.

Loki

Another returning character getting his own Disney+ series will be Tom Hiddleston’s fan favorite Loki. The trickster god and brother of Thor has alternated from good to bad several times within his several appearances in the MCU, so it remains to be seen what exactly the series will be about, especially considering Thanos strangled Loki to death in the beginning of Avengers: Infinity War. But considering the time travel shenanigans in Endgame led to Loki escaping with the Tesseract Space Stone, there’s a good chance an alternate Loki is still alive, and, if set photos are to be believed, possibly living in the 1970s!

WandaVision

WandaVision is perhaps the most perplexing of the announced Phase 4 titles. We know Wanda, aka Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), will be appearing in Doctor Strange 2, but her artificial lifeform lover Vision was one of the major casualties of Avengers: Infinity War, and was never resurrected by the end of Avengers: Endgame. So what will this show about the pair be about? The title, a very weird pun with a 50s style logo, gives nothing away.

Blade

1998’s Blade, starring Wesley Snipes as the half-vampire, half-human swordsman, is considered the first modern superhero movie and which kicked off the Hollywood comic book fascination that is still burning strong today. So it was a big surprise at this year’s Comic Con when Marvel head Kevin Feige announced that a rebooted Blade will be joining the MCU, with Oscar winner Mahershala Ali as the title Daywalker. Ali is no stranger to the MCU—he played the villain Cottonmouth in the first season of Luke Cage. But when you have an actor as good as Ali, you can’t blame Marvel for using him as much as they can.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Shang-Chi is a lesser known Marvel superhero, but that’s about to change. The film will be the first from the MCU to be directed by an Asian American and star a mostly Asian and Asian American cast, including Simu Liu, Awkwafina, and Tony Leung. Leung will be playing the Mandarin, a supervillain teased since the very beginning of the MCU when a terrorist with ten rings first imprisoned Tony Stark and inspired him to become Iron Man, and who Ben Kingsley very famously turned out not to be in Iron Man 3.

Hawkeye

Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye came back from the brink as the murderous Ronin by the end of Avengers: Endgame, but he may not be the focus of this Disney+ series. Lila Barton, his daughter, became Hawkeye in the comics, and as the MCU pushes to bring in more diverse and female superheroes, she may end up taking the mantle of her father. The very first scene of Avengers: Endgame shows Lila’s amazing archery skills, no doubt inherited from her dad, before she was snapped out of existence for five years by Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet.

And then what?

These have all been announced and are all in some form of pre-production or production, but there’s other projects we can safely assume Disney will produce as long as Marvel keeps making them billions and billions of dollars. These include sequels to smash hits Black Panther, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Captain Marvel. And since Disney recently bought Fox and most of its properties, eventually we may see the Fantastic Four and even a new version of the X-Men join the Franchise That Tony Built.

MCU Phase 4

Lessons from J. K. Rowling: How to Build a Successful Film Franchise

With “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” already projected to dominate the box office with at least $70 million in ticket sales, it’s hard not to reminisce about the time when Harry Potter ruled Hollywood. Harry Potter remains one of the most successful movie franchises in history, surpassing the likes of Star Wars and Batman and falling second only to the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. That’s quite an achievement. So how did it happen, and what goes into building a successful movie franchise?

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As an aspiring moviemaker, perhaps your dream is to one day captivate millions of people across the globe with your own franchise. Bear in mind that this is an accomplishment far easier said than done, but the truth is that franchises certainly have a place in the entertainment industry — and they always will. So it’s absolutely worthwhile to study what goes into creating a franchise like the one based on J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world.

With Harry Potter and other major film franchises in mind, we’ve summarized four of the most important elements that go into a successful franchise:

Appeals to All Ages

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“The Lord of the Rings” is another movie franchise like Harry Potter that was adapted from books and found great success. But while it is considered by many to be the best fantasy series ever made, it didn’t have the same appeal for all age groups due to its more dense backstory, the darker world, etc.

The Harry Potter franchise, on the other hand, was created with the goal that children, teenagers, and parents alike would all be able to get something from it. From the first book/film all the way to the last, relatable things like friendship, hope, and love are represented through a magical world with peculiar people and creatures that appeal to a wide range of ages and personalities.

When considering your own movie franchise, remember that the more people your films appeal to, the greater your chance of success.

Has a Story With Characters That Grow

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In the original “Star Wars” trilogy, many characters grew throughout the adventure. We saw Luke Skywalker go from a nobody on a farm, to a rebel fighter, and finally a Jedi hero. Since we were there when his journey started and saw him mature when faced with adversity, we can feel like we had a part in his growth and triumph.

In “Harry Potter,” this same element of the hero’s journey and a character’s full arc is also very prevalent and powerful. The original book/film was aimed at children and featured characters around 10 years of age. But by the end, Harry and the rest were teenagers — just like all the loyal fans of the books and films who grew up alongside their favorite characters.

We’re not saying your characters have to age throughout your franchise. Rather, the takeaway is that it’s important to allow your audience to feel like they can relate and grow alongside your characters. Make sure your viewers can witness your characters evolve and mature, as this will drive the audience’s emotional involvement and make them eager to see where your story takes them next.

Have Relatable Characters & Basic Archetypes

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How is it that Disney managed to turn one of their theme park rides into a high-grossing franchise? We’re of course talking about the Pirates of the Caribbean, a runaway hit that’s bred a movie empire. Arguably, part of the success of this franchise can be attributed to its characters, who are firmly rooted in basic archetypes. One example is the hero, Will, who is on a quest to save the girl he loves from a crew of evil pirates. The archetype of the hero, the villain, the wise mentor, etc., can be found in great stories all over the world, and there is a reason that audiences respond to these archetypes. Tap into this powerful storytelling tool with your own future movie franchise.

Relatable characters and well-drawn basic archetypes are arguably one of the biggest reasons the Harry Potter franchise took the world by storm. You have so many characters that, despite living in a magical world, have relatable problems such as fear of girls, homework, etc. They feel familiar to the audience, like old friends. Eventually there are also mature issues that arrive, all while these characters become involved in a traditional tale of good vs. evil. It’s irresistible.

Want your franchise to succeed? Try fitting in archetypes that resonate with most people while creating characters that people can relate to and care about.

Take Them To Another World

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Right now, the by-the-numbers most successful (and largest) franchise of all time is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Among the many reasons all these movies are a hit, the biggest one also applies to the comics that inspired them: they transport you somewhere else. You may be on Earth while watching “The Avengers,” but while you’re caught up in the story there are heroes and villains ready to fight for the future of the world.

Children and adults alike who love Harry Potter know what we’re talking about. From the moment viewers board the Hogwarts Express and arrive at the wizard school, they immediately feel enraptured by a world of magic and mystery. The characters still face relatable situations like mean teachers, but in Harry Potter your teacher is a cold, secretive wizard. It’s another world.

When planning your franchise, we suggest spending plenty of time creating the world your story and characters will take part in. It might just be helps viewers fall in love with your film.

 

What other elements do you notice in your favorite franchise? Let us know in the comments below!

Breaking Down The Directors Of The Alien Franchise

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Nobody involved in the early stages of making a B-movie “Jaws in space” plotted Star Beast ever expected it would evolve into the billion-dollar plus Alien franchise. From the original 1979 film about a creature that lived to kill aboard a spaceship in the middle of nowhere spawned dozens of sequels, crossovers, prequels, comics, action figures, and video games.

Alien: Isolation is just the latest in the ever-expanding universe of murderous Xenomorphs and chestbursters. The next-gen video game is an ersatz sequel to the original film, boasting state of the art realistic graphics to tell the story of Ellen Ripley’s daughter, Amanda, and her search to find her mother and the doomed crew of the Nostromo, or at the very least, the truth of what happened to them.

While reviews of the gameplay have been mixed, its story and tone have been heralded as a worthy addition to the Alien Franchise. That tone has varied with every incarnation of the series and is best explored through the feature films spread across five decades of Hollywood history. And what better way to explore a film than through its director.

The Alien franchise has managed to find a wide range of talented directors at various points in their careers, though usually early—filmmakers who have added their own mark and together have woven a complex tapestry nobody reckoned could be built around something as simple as The Beast With Two Mouths.

Ridley Scott

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A lot of credit for the Alien franchise must go to original Alien director Ridley Scott. His patient, quiet yet epic style set up the world the franchise inhabits, and created the momentum that has since driven the series forward. By casting a seven-foot actor to inhabit the Xenomorph costume and using shadows and other filmmaking techniques to hide the Alien for most of the movie, Scott managed to create an otherworldly beast that looked too real for the special effects of the time—crucial to suspending the audience’s disbelief and scaring them out of their seats.

Scott was keen on having complex characters with backstories and motivations—something rarely seen in run-of-the-mill horror films where actors were merely fodder for their given monster. Combining this with the lived-in feel of the mining spaceship, Scott created an atmosphere not really seen in space movies before. Rather than the clean-cut scientist astronauts of 2001 and other films, the crew of the Nostromo more resembled offshore oil riggers getting paid by the hour in the Alaskan wilderness. Simply put, he made them relatable.

He also cast an unknown Sigourney Weaver in the lead role of Ellen Ripley, originally scripted as male. He not only helped Weaver launch her A-list career but created one of science-fiction’s most enduring heroines, who even thirty-five years later remains one of the few famous female leads in Hollywood genre cinema.

Alien was only Scott’s second film, but belayed the auteur’s skill with blockbuster special effects and set the tone for the rest of his career. Of all the Alien franchise’s directors, Ridley Scott is the only one to have directed more than one film. Thirty-three years after helming the original, Scott came back with the pseudo-prequel Prometheus, another slow-paced effects epic that is more concerned with our cosmic origins than with bloody deaths. While reviews of the movie were mixed, Scott proved that despite setting the tone for the franchise he could also bring it in new directions with the best of them.

James Cameron

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James Cameron may very well have been selected to be the director of the sequel to Alien because of his previous masterpiece, The Terminator. After all, both films centered on unstoppable killing machines following a vulnerable but strong-minded woman. Cameron, however, had other ideas, and his script for Aliens switched radically in tone from its predecessor.

Aliens is a war movie first, monster movie second, written and directed with an energy that celebrated cool guns, space tanks, and badass one-liners. Beneath its surface though was a smarter movie, the macho cheerleading a commentary on the Vietnam War, and Ripley’s character was given a depth and maternal narrative the original movie didn’t have time to establish. Aliens expanded on the first while at the same time it used its universe in entirely different ways for entirely different purposes, and cemented Cameron as an artist of the blockbuster, a future King of the World.

David Fincher

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Alien 3 was David Fincher’s first film after a career of directing commercials and music videos. Fincher was reportedly plagued by constant rewrites and changes by the studio, and was so disillusioned with the experience that he almost had his name removed from the credits.

However, his stamp remains and facets of the future Oscar nominee’s style are already prevalent in the dark, gloomy sequel. Besides Fincher’s favored brown and copper tones, Alien 3 has the bleak despair and bloody gore found across his oeuvre, including his immediate follow-up, Seven. Fincher is the director who presided over the death of hero Ellen Ripley, a controversial move lambasted from fanboys and previous director James Cameron alike.

The movie has its merits though and showed the Alien franchise could do horror in various shades of gray (or bronze). It also tied Ripley’s character into a larger-than-life battle with the Xenomorphs. In the original she was a bystander, in the second she was a survivor. In the end, she would become a nemesis of an entire species, her existence and fate entwined with the Aliens. She was no longer just a genre protagonist but a bona fide science-fiction legend, her hairless visage as synonymous with the franchise as the eponymous creatures themselves.

Jean-Pierre Jeunet

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French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Jeunet had already directed the post-apocalyptic black comedy Delicatessen and dark fantasy The City of Lost Children before taking on the fourth movie in the franchise, Alien: Resurrection. His following film, Amélie, made him more of a household name, and further proved his talent with cinematography built around CGI, then coming of age.

All of these personal touches came together for an offbeat sequel that never quite felt comfortable in its own skin. Like Alien, it was set aboard a doomed spaceship, like Aliens, it had futuristic marines facing off against a multitude of Xenomorphs and their queen. Ripley’s larger-than-life status was the core of the movie, with her clone being resurrected two hundred years after Alien 3 to battle the creatures. She was surrounded by oddball characters, including Jeunet regulars Ron Perlman and Dominique Pinon. Jeunet’s fun sense of quirk best came out in the interplay between Ripley and these characters, and are arguably the strongest element of the film.

Alien: Resurrection was released in 1997, right before The Matrix and Hollywood’s CGI revolution. Jeunet’s skills behind the camera and a script by Joss Whedon struggled to do something new with the franchise, but compared to similar fare of the pre-Matrix 90s, A:R looks beautiful and is dynamically shot. At it’s worst, it’s a generic space action movie with the skin of the Alien franchise, a trait that continued as Hollywood started taking less risks and digging their franchise heels in at the turn of the century. The following two films in the series would continue that trend, and without someone as skilled as Jeunet, they would sink where Resurrection managed to at least keep its head above water.

Paul W.S. Anderson

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Alien vs. Predator was a departure for the series in more ways than its additional extraterrestrial species. It’s also the first film in the franchise with a PG-13 rating, limiting the film’s violence, which in capable hands is not just a tool but part of the series’ foundation.

The PG-13 is one result of Hollywood’s twenty-first century movement to bring in as many viewers as possible. With ever-expanding budgets, it’s become paramount for films to make more money, which has led to duller, more mainstream-oriented fare and a dependency on recognizable names. Aliens had been fighting Predators for over a decade in other media—it was only in the 2000s that Hollywood felt the need to combine the two trademark properties.

While both the original Alien and Predator movies were slow-burns with its monsters picking off the cast one by one, AvP is a loud action film that is more interested in hitting its plot points fast enough to keep teenagers interested than it is in developing character or creating any sort of commentary or subtext. Far enough from the original, AvP also loses itself in nostalgia by beating the audience over the head with callbacks to the previous films rather than using them to season an original take on the mythology.

Of all the directors, Paul W.S. Anderson was the most experienced when he got behind the camera, having already made blockbusters like Mortal Kombat, Event Horizon and Resident Evil. While the previous Alien films all took chances with relatively unknown auteurs, it was a sign of the times that the franchise was placed in the hands of someone more workhorse than artist.

What could have been an exciting crossover with new things to say and new ways to say it, Alien vs. Predator continued the downward slope of the franchise by being just another dumb action flick.

The Brothers Strause

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Colin and Greg Strause were untested filmmakers with a respected expertise in special effects when they took on the follow-up crossover, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem. The ho-hum response to the original AvP was strong enough for the studio to take a little more risk with the film, also allowing again for an R rating.

Unfortunately the Brothers Strause used the R rating for more gore, whether it be a maternity ward full of eviscerated wombs or a chestburster tearing itself out of a child’s body. This was shock value for shock value’s sake, as opposed to a genuine twist meant to disrupt the audience and change the game completely like the original chestbursting scene from Alien. The visceral violence wasn’t a product of an omnipresent despair like in Fincher’s Alien 3 but just another bullet point to check off on the Brothers’ how-to-make-a-horror-film checklist.

The result is a B-movie with slightly more character than the previous AvP but another forgettable entry for the franchise. Not as offensively bland, it isn’t impossible to sit through while watching, but as soon as it’s over you won’t remember much. That in itself may be the cardinal sin for the Alien franchise—the Xenomorphs have proven that they’re anything but forgettable.

Even their token appearance at the end of Ridley Scott’s Prometheus was treated like an event. The franchise is currently dormant, but it will only be a matter of time before studio heads find a new way to approach the series, and like a mysterious otherworldly egg, it will slowly stir and come to life and bring us a new monster. Hopefully it will be a monster worth screaming at.

Q&A With Adam Moore & Adam Finer On Screenwriting Careers

Adam Moore Associate Chair of NYFA LA Screenwriting DepartmentAdam Finer Chair of Industry Outreach & Professional DevelopmentRecently we sat down with Adam Moore, Associate Chair of Screenwriting, and Adam Finer, Chair of Industry Outreach & Professional Development, both based at the New York Film Academy’s Burbank campus, to talk about building franchises and “story worlds”—and how writers build careers. Adam Finer is a former literary manager and film producer who spent over a decade as a marketing executive at Universal Studios. Adam Moore is a writer/producer who has co-developed film and television projects for Dark Horse Entertainment, Spyglass Entertainment, Red Wagon Entertainment, Relativity Media, and Silver Pictures, as well as video game projects for Ubisoft, Digital Embryo, and IBM / Walt Disney World EPCOT Center. As the key architects of NYFA’s groundbreaking transmedia course of study, they have a unique vantage point and area of expertise that writers in the field of entertainment can benefit from.

NYFA: So, Adam—and Adam Number Two—I’d like to start by asking what got you both started in this business?

ADAM MOORE: I’ve been a storyteller since I could hold a crayon. The entertainment industry always appealed to me because of the depth and audience reach of the various mediums that make up the industry.

ADAM FINER: I’ve been creating stories and building story worlds with my friends since I was a kid. You just don’t realize that’s what you’re doing; you’re just being a kid. I somehow got my hands on movie scripts when I was in my early teens and I loved visualizing what the movie would become when finished, and I still love that. My career officially began when I went to Universal Pictures one day with a friend who was picking up a paycheck. That day someone had quit and I talked myself into an 11-year journey at the studio.

NYFA: When you look back at your career, what are you most surprised about in terms of how this industry works?

ADAM FINER: I’m not sure if this surprises me, but I’m always impressed by the passion needed to see projects through. Without story and passionate storytellers in all areas of the business this would be a very boring industry.

ADAM MOORE: Not so much surprised as I am disappointed by the way most writers are treated. Unless you’re in that lucky top 1% of writers in the industry, you have to be willing to do a lot of work for free. It wasn’t always that way. Even 20 years ago it was much different.

NYFA: Have you discovered any out-of-the box actions that writers have taken over the years that actually work at getting them noticed?

ADAM MOORE: Writers who create their own content—I’m thinking things like web series, comic books—seem to have a bit more success getting noticed as opposed to those who write spec script after spec script and hope one pops.

ADAM FINER: I spent the second part of my career as a Literary Manager and I have seen writers try to take all kinds of shortcuts—what you might call “out-of-the box thinking”—but what always caught my eye was great writing and powerful storytelling. Now, one of the benefits of Transmedia storytelling is that great writers have other mediums to tell their stories in and engage and grow audiences.

NYFA: Creating a fresh concept for a movie franchise seems like a big task. What do you think the keys are to knowing if you have an idea that’s expandable enough to broaden into a franchise?

ADAM FINER: My first thought is: not all concepts or franchises need to start as movies. Television, video games, comic books, novels, web series, toys and even theme park rides have launched franchises. I’d ask what medium best serves your characters and the world they live in. Then build your story in that world and connect with an audience that wants to see your story worlds.

ADAM MOORE: At the New York Film Academy, we break transmedia franchises down into component pieces to see which have the most promise to leap across the media sphere. Does our franchise have a hero? A home base? An iconic vehicle? Friends and allies? Enemies? Iconic gadgets? A unique world? If you can check off most of the items on that list, then you’re in good shape.

NYFA: Adam Moore, I noticed that you have experience developing video games. With the monster success of titles like Grand Theft Auto and Halo, there seems to be a growing number of college-bound teens interested in designing video games—and many of them wrongly imagining that the job is nothing more than sitting on the couch and playing games all day. What insights would you offer someone who wants to get into that field, regardless of their age?

ADAM MOORE: Be prepared to work hard, and for very long hours at times. The most important things anyone who wants to work in games can learn are the fundamentals of game design.

ADAM FINER: I know this question is for Adam but I’d also chime in that Game Development and design takes a great deal of effort, hard work and time. Creating narratives that connect with audiences is really important. It doesn’t matter if a game is very simple or extremely complex in terms of graphics if a player is engaged in the world.

NYFA: If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your 18-year-old selves?

ADAM FINER: It’s the same advice I still give myself everyday: keep learning, keep taking creative leaps, keep engaging in new ideas and keep sharing those ideas with others.

ADAM MOORE: When I was 18, there was no such thing as a Game Design Degree, so I can’t give myself that advice. But I would tell myself that making games can be a career, and if you love your Xbox or Nintendo, and find yourself drawn to video game worlds and narrative strategies, then follow your heart and go find a way to learn about and work in the game industry. It’s a fast-growing field and there are jobs to be had.