AIFF 2013: “Filmmaker TalkBack: Transmedia 101: The Future of Storytelling” – Coverage by Daniel Rester

“Filmmaker TalkBack: Transmedia 101: The Future of Storytelling”

Coverage by Daniel Rester

The panel held on Sunday, April 7th, at the 12th annual Ashland Independent Film Festival was titled “Transmedia 101: The Future of Storytelling.”  The talkback was led by moderator Jim Teece, who is a co-founder of Project A (which helped with ticketing for the festival). The introductory comments of the talkback were given by Ian Greenfield, who works at the Oregon Governor’s Office of Film and Television.

Members of the panel included Robert (Bobby) Arellano, the director of the Center for Emerging Media and Digital Arts at Southern Oregon University. Theo Rigby also joined, who has worked on such projects as The Mayor and Immigrant Nation. Media expert Tawny Schlieski (who works for an Intel labs group) and Thomas Wester, of Second Story Labs, were both panelists as well. Rounding out the group was Academy Award-winner Roger Ross Williams, who was showing God Loves Uganda at the festival.

With his opening words, Greenfield discussed the large growth in film and television practices in Oregon over the past few years. From 2009 to 2012, the amount going towards such practices climbed from $99 million to $234 million. One of the new programs for film and television that Greenfield mentioned is the Oregon Storyboard.

After Greenfield’s comments, the talkback members began to discuss how technology is affecting artists’ (filmmakers’) storytelling and crafting. Rigby mentioned early on that it is important that technology is included as “parts in the road [toward a goal].” He also later brought up that filmmakers can change their approaches with technology, allowing a story to “pivot” with the changes. After a while, he also said that filmmakers need to keep in mind how they “make people care about [such] stories.” Rigby also mentioned that open-sourced material is also very crucial to have for some filmmakers in telling their stories. Wester also said that authorship is important when it comes to engaging with stories, and that he wants to “live in a world where we all go see Scorsese” – stating the need for strong storytellers.

While Rigby and Wester provided key ideas about stories, many of the others took to talking about technology evolving and providing new sorts of collaborations. Wester believes that various artistic disciplines need to learn to “co-evolve [with technology].” Arellano echoed such ideas with his thoughts about collaboration, stating, “In the real world, you need a musician to talk to an artist to talk to a coder to make a video game.”

All of the panelists seemed to agree that technology is providing for more hands-on storytelling and collaboration. Arellano mentioned how many EMDA students were beginning to use tablets (especially for the Follow the Food project for the festival), while Schlieski found it exciting that so many audience members are now allowed to “[play] directly in a digital space.” Williams mentioned his work on a museum that he wants to be “alive and ever-changing.” He would love to see people participate in storytelling as it is happening, and then make a documentary about the experience. Teece found that Kickstarter.com is significant when it comes to technology and storytelling, as it allows for a certain “community-building opportunity.”

All of the various ideas allowed for a rewarding discussion about how artistry is changing with newer technology. Whether one is an EMDA teacher or a documentary filmmaker, it seems that such changes are affecting everyone.

*All of the above quotes are taken from the talkback itself, and no other source.

Some of the speakers’ introductions:

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