Exploring Interactive and Transmedia Documentary

Interactive Documentary Panel

Image c/o Zack Embree

This past Wednesday night I had the pleasure of moderating an absolutely fantastic panel of documentary directors creating interactive and transmedia stories. It was part of DOC-BC’s regular monthly series of workshops and discussions.

In the audience there was a good mix of filmmakers and producers, a few designers, and even a group of students. We all settled into a cozy rehearsal studio at In Focus Film School in Vancouver.

Joining me at the front of the room were three very interesting creators. We talked about their recent work and looked at some spectacular examples.

Michael Simons, one-half of the creative super duo, The Goggles, and with whom we’ve had the pleasure to do many a project together, including Welcome to Pine Point and Ghosts in our Machine. He told us about two major interactive projects they currently have in production. Touch, an interactive story about the death of print they are creating with the Sundance Institute and Penguin UK, and Chasing the Sun, a transmedia tale about the Arctic in association with the Tribeca Film Institute.

Paisley Smith, the founder of VRG, a community that celebrates and mentors women working in virtual reality and future storytelling. She told us about her work with Emblematic Group on Project Syria, a VR project selected for the Sundance Film Festival’s New Frontier program, and directing Taro’s World, a VR experience exploring game addiction and suicide, with the NFB Digital Studio in Vancouver.

Nicole Sorochan runs One Net Studios and has over a decade of credits working on really cool digital companion projects for top North American filmmakers. She told us about Amplify Her, a feature length documentary film she is producing with Ian MacKenzie, and the film’s accompanying six-chapter motion comic and web experience, which she is directing.

During the two-hour discussion we covered a lot of ground from the creative process they use to develop and shape their stories, to their relationship with design and technology, to how they finance and produce their work. Of course, we spent a little time debating the potential and future of VR (now obligatory at any discussion with storytellers:), and spent the last half hour engaged in a great round of questions from the audience.

Thanks to each of my guests, to DOC-BC and In Focus Film School, and to everyone who attended for a very interesting and enlightened evening.

– Sean