This past weekend the 2013 Ashland Independent Film Festival (AIFF) hosted its first eMerge Tansmedia Showcase (sponsored by Oregon Film, Intel, SOU, Project A, Second Story, PIE, and Technology Association of Oregon). In simplest terms, it was an opportunity for festival goers to discuss, experience and participate in the future of storytelling. As technology continues to evolve, the ways in which stories can be told are evolving with it. The lines between technology, film, photography, music, performance art, graphic arts, and gaming are becoming less and less visible. Storytelling is no longer a one-way street.
The eMerge Transmedia Showcase consisted of three main events designed to engage audiences and start discussions about the future of storytelling. There was a live community storytelling event and “hackathon” centered around the web–based documentary project “Immigrant Nation.” Southern Oregon University students created a “culinary video expedition” titled “Follow the Food.” The showcase culminated in a talkback discussion panel, “Transmedia 101: The Future of Storytelling.”
AIFF Alum Filmmaker Theo Rigby’s “Immigrant Nation” is an innovative web-based documentary that invites the general public to share their immigration stories (in 140 character increments) and incorporates them into the story. Illustrator Anthony Weeks was on hand at the festival creating a real-time mural of the stories as they came in.
SOU also hosted an “Immigrant Nation” Hackathon at their Digitial Media Center.
Hack•a•thon ‘hac-ǝ,thän’ (hack’ + marathon), noun
An event in which computer programmers and others in the fiend of software development, like graphic designers and interface designers, collaborate intensively on a software-related project.
At the hackathon, moderated by Erik Palmer, participants discussed options for designing an effective interface that would allow users to most easily share their immigration stories online. The immigration stories would be complied together to ultimately be presented in a meaningful way. Over the course of the hack, they addressed many challenges such as the ease of use for the end user being threatened by technical issues such as the requirement for facebook authentication/passwords. In the end, they produced an easily accessible facebook app for the film’s page as well as a solid roadmap of ideas to be implemented once “Immigrant Nation” launches its stand alone website in the coming months.
Follow the Food
The artisan food culture of the Rogue Valley was presented in an innovative way through a series of short videos produced by students of Southern Oregon University’s EMDA program. Each 3 to 5 minute video highlighted a specific restaurant or food provider in the area. The videos were displayed in kiosks at the corresponding restaurants and storefronts for visitors to view throughout the festival. The filmmakers were also walking around with tablets to present their videos to interested passersby. The videos, along with a graphical representation of the food supply chains, are also available to be viewed through an interactive app for mobile devices. You can download the app at the App Store or on Google Play.
The project gave visitors a unique insight into the artisan food culture and practices of each business. As an example, you can view the Rogue Creamery video below:
You can view the other videos in the series here:
- Standing Stone
- Noble Coffee Roasters
- Sunstone Bakery
- Boulton and Son Butchers
- Lillie Belle Farms
- Rogue Valley Farm to School
- Upper Five Vineyard and South Stage Cellars
Transmedia 101: The Future of Storytelling
The Transmedia talkback panel was an interactive discussion on the future of storytelling with insight from industry leaders in various sectors. Moderated by Jim Teece (Project A), the panel included Bobby Arellano (Director of the Center for Emerging Media & Digital Arts, SOU), Theo Rigby (Filmmaker, “Immigrant Nation”), Roger Ross Williams (Filmmaker, “God Loves Uganda”, “Traveling While Black”), Tawny Schlieski (Intel Labs Interaction & Experience Research Group), Thomas Wester (Innovation Director, Second Story Labs), and Ian Greenfield (Oregon Governor’s Office).
While the conversation and the topic, by definition, were open-ended and far-reaching, there were some definite recurring themes that emerged. One thing that is evident is that the way in which storytellers are able to present their stories is rapidly changing and the multitude of new technology and available options can be overwhelming. It doesn’t seem practical, or likely even possible for classic storytellers to fully understand how to implement and work with all of the new technology options becoming available on their own. Thus it is becoming increasingly important for storytellers to form collaborations with the programmers, designers, and innovators who may better understand how to implement the technological aspects of the project. The panel, made up of both storytellers and industry pioneers, was able to give some valuable insight into that process based on their recent projects as well as give an exciting glimpse of the things that will be possible for storytellers in the near future.
We at the Oregon Governor’s Office of Film & Television were proud to be a supporting partner in this discussion and are dedicated to continuing the discussion and nurturing the growth of this sector of the industry. We believe that transmedia is indeed the future of storytelling, and that building this infrastructure now will help Oregon maintain a stable film, television and digital media industry for the future.