beActive: A Lean Creative Company




Last week I went along to a master class by beActive Media on building a low-budget film franchise. Every time I think about beActive and their approach, I think of Lean. For me beActive is one of the best lean creative companies. Their approach to concepts, projects, audience, team and marketing espouses the very best of Lean startup thinking. So how do they do it?

Nuno explained that adopting the beActive approach to creating multi-platform stories, came about from not wanting to loose control of their content.  By testing this new approach, be Active disrupted the very nature of how film and transmedia projects are conceived, produced, launched and marketed.

Traditionally, film makers let go of their content when the film is released; handing it over to a distributor. The film shows for a few weeks and then months later comes out on DVD. There is only one opportunity to make any kind of money from your movie and getting cinemas to show your picture is very tricky indeed.

This is not the business model beActive use. Last week the team talked in detail about BeatGirl, a transmedia project about a young girl who decides to take a different approach to her life.  At each step of the way, the BeatGirl story was tested and tweaked from the original concept to the photo albums placed on Pinterest,  the very first storytelling experience on that channel. This strategy built a huge buzz about BeatGirl and received a massive amount of press and media attention. As Nuno commented, “the concept is the hub”. The hub is the key message here. Build a ‘sticky’ hub and then expand it outwards across multiple platforms.

By creating a universe and telling parts of the story in different places, it gives the story a longer life. It also gives viewers many ways in, to find and to engage with the characters. The relationship is not forced. beActive decided early on to test where their market was for their content and only go there if the target market was there.  Another great example of this was creating play-lists on YouTube. As the target market for BeatGirl was 18 to 25 year old’s, it was an obvious choice to use these platforms.

In each case, fans interact with the material in the places they hang out already and can navigate between new and extended material on other platforms. Crucially, and this is a very big rule to adhere to, no content is ever replicated. As Nuno explained  ” the story changes when it interacts with audience. How you read audience reaction is very important”

Instead of financing a movie in the traditional sense, beActive financed the BeatGirl IP. And from this they can licence the BeatGirl concept to other partners ( if appropriate and good for the brand) and further grow the brand across territories and new platforms. This is a very smart and innovative more for a creative company. The brand IP is incredibly important and extremely valuable.

So may creatives do not treat their IP with this type of respect or understanding. The business  and financial benefit of structuring the financing around an IP like this is twofold. Firstly, you retain control of your IP and secondly it gives you the opportunity to earn revenue from multiple platforms and third party licencing deals. You don’t depend solely on a movie release or a third party distributor to define your fate. In fact, BeatGirl will make the most revenue from video on demand.

The final part of the secret to BeatGirl’s success is marketing.  A well defined and worked out marketing plan is devised for each project and constantly tweaked. It is intuitive, smart and proactive working across platforms both online and offline. beActive nurture the process and manage the communication constantly, listening clearly for fan’s reactions and feedback. They encourage fan input and give users as may opportunities as possible to engage and co-create content. beActive know their audience and invest a lot of time understanding their relationships with each brand. As Nuno remarked “we are storytellers. Storytelling and marketing goes hand in hand.”

Looking at beActive’s business model, audience development, financing and marketing, beAcrive are a Lean creative company; disrupting and creating new methods of working and being very successful to boot. All achieved with a core team of only twenty individuals. From this experience  beActive are developing a new platform for transmedia, scheduling across social media channels, so watch this space creatives.

Eighteen months on from the original idea,  BeatGirl has  developed into a feature length film, play lists on YouTube, a novel,  iPhone game, a fan fiction book,  a web series, a partnership with Samsung and a prime time TV series in the US; all from a very short trailer.

In conclusion, the BeatGirl story answers two questions perfectly. Why transmedia and why Lean?  By combining both approaches, the Lean Startup business model and transmedia storytelling, beActive validated their idea, found and built an fan base, tested stories, controlled marketing and distribution, created an brand, scaled the business and yes made money. Gold standard Lean. It’s an impressive and inspiring process and this is only chapter one! I’m excited to see what chapter two holds in store.

BeatGirl the movie opens tomorrow May 10th in Ireland, UK and Portugal, go see.


Here are my top takeaways from beActive’s Masterclass:



  1.  Put story at the centre. Never duplicate content. Make stories for each platform unique to it.
  2. Your most valuable asset is your character.
  3.  Your audience is your currency, bring your audience in early, validate early.
  4.  Bring users back to your channel. Keep users with you in the long term.
  5. Do everything together, make the most of your budget. Actors working on other content during the shoot for other platforms. Saves money and time.
  6. BeatGirl book was being written while movie was shooting.
  7. Don’t hand out scripts. Build a buzz with great visuals. Have actors demand the script. – Mairtín DeBarra, Director
  8. Position your short film/trailer as the promo for the franchise.
  9. Create visuals for your pitch.
  10. Bring in your audience. Show your validated idea.


  1.  Find every way you can to get your brand out there. Online is just as important as offline. Partner up.
  2.  Social media strategy: Go where users already are.
  3. Create brand ambassadors for each story. Use a mix of online and offline marketing.
  4. Use feedback received, in real time, to improve your story.


  1.  beActive financed BeatGirl IP from private equity. Cross collateralise, there are many ways to earn revenue or at least get your initial investment back.
  2. Making an early  trailer, helped raise finance, tweak story and characters and bring in partners.
  3.  Licence your brand across multiple channels.
  4.  Products are very important. Local licences for local products. Build your revenue.

Thanks to the Filmbase team for organising the master class.

Image (c) beActive Media