The Documentary NZ Trust has introduced Story Edge, its latest programme aimed at developing Transmedia work in New Zealand.
The Trust, through Documentary Edge, and particularly in the person of festival co-director Alex Lee, has promoted Transmedia work for a number of years now. In 2010 the Doc NZ Trust introduced their “Doc Labs”, through which filmmakers have been encouraged to develop Transmedia enterprises, from scratch or from their existing film projects. These Doc Labs have been conducted in close co-operation with Colab, the collaboratory for Design and Creative Technologies at the Auckland University of Technology (AUT). But realizing that these labs were too short to achieve substantial results, the Trust began talks with the NZFC to find ways of developing and expanding their efforts.
“Story Edge”, an interactive Transmedia storytelling development and exhibition arm, is the next phase in Documentary NZ Trust’s efforts to build and nurture the New Zealand Transmedia storytelling community.
The plan is to bring together filmmakers and storytellers with coders and web designers on the other, to collaborate on interactive narratives. The idea is to hold a series of weekend “Hackathons” over a period of 12 to 18 months, culminating in a week-long immersive incubator session which will offer intensive mentorship. The resulting installations and screenings will showcase interactive, virtual reality and Transmedia work. Thus Story Edge “aims to develop world-class Transmedia storytelling practitioners, while inspiring outstanding interactive stories across multiple media”.
Story Edge was officially launched during the Auckland Screen Edge Forum, held last week at AUT. It already has support from the NZFC, and discussions have started with New Zealand on Air.
Co-presenting this new initiative with Alex Lee were Frances Joseph, founding co-director of Colab, and Anna Jackson, lecturer in Colab and founder and co-director of Transmedia NZ. Jackson is also the co-producer of the online documentary initiative, Loading Docs.
Joseph outlined the way in which Colab, as part of the AUT’s Faculty of Creative Technologies (involving design engineering, computer and commercial studies), has become a key partner in the conceptualization, development and delivery of Story Edge, providing expertise, facilities and networks.
For Jackson, the critical feature of the new project is the space for participation on the part of the audience. She spoke of how the practice of storytelling started in ancient times with interactions around a fire; and how storytelling in the modern world has lost that participatory element. While admitting that a lot of Transmedia work presently being created is mediocre – like many documentaries! – she does point out that Transmedia is still in its infancy. Lee later reminded people that issues of character, drama and point of view still remain.
Jackson sees Transmedia work as a powerful vehicle for social change, pointing to Games for Change as an example. She promotes an holistic approach to content – where elements of experience on one platform link with other elements on different platforms. Games Fort McMoney and Do Not Track, the latter a big hit at Tribeca this year, were also presented as illustrations of popular developments in this brave new world.
When someone in the audience asked what was the future for “dinosaurs” who still like old-fashioned cinema, Jackson commented that cinema, TV and radio were not going away any time soon. Rather than supplant those experiences, Transmedia could amplify them.
More information regarding the planned Hackathons will be released in a month or so.