Exploring international interactive storytelling

An interview with Ingrid Kopp, the director of digital initiatives at Tribeca.

(The following interview was for the publication One Year In Now Media Vol IV. Here it is republished in full, complete with the projects mentioned embedded )

You’ve been all over the world in 2014 – what things excited you the most? What were eye-openers for you?

I was on a bit of a mission to explore interactive storytelling more globally in 2014. I wanted to get more of a sense of how this work is developing internationally, and how funding mechanisms work in different regions. I think one of the things I am most excited by is the potential for interactive storytelling in the global south, in regions that often get left out of conversations about media and emerging talent. I’m looking forward to working with more of a truly international focus going forward.

It was also really fun for us to do our Tribeca Hacks hackathons internationally this year for the first time. We did a really big, science-based hackathon at CERN as part of the CineGlobe film festival in March. Bringing filmmakers, scientists, technologists and designers together for a week at CERN was incredible. We even got to go down into the Large Hadron Collider which was perfect for science/story/tech inspiration.

As the Director of Digital Initiatives at the TFI, you’re in touch with some of the most groundbreaking projects in the world – how do you see the field has been evolving over the past few years? New technologies, new methods, new mindsets?

Well VR is definitely something that everyone is very excited about at the moment, and if you look at the projects shown at IDFA DocLab and coming up at New Frontier at Sundance you can definitely see the edges of an interesting new craft emerging. Projects like Oscar Raby’s Assent, Danfung Dennis’ Zero Point, Felix and Paul’s Strangers and Nonny de la Peña’s work are all really exciting in different ways and I am looking forward to seeing how filmmakers and artists explore VR in the year to come.

 

Interestingly, I do think that there is a fascinating tension at the moment between projects that are embracing technology wholeheartedly and projects that are pushing back a little and exploring more analog ways to tell a story, but using the affordances of the web and social media to spread the word and pull in new audiences.

What project you’ve come in contact with in 2014 would you have liked to work on yourself, and why?

This is a tough one because I love all the projects we fund so much and tend to wish I could work on all of them. I love the beautiful graphics work in Priya’s Shakti which has just been published as a free comic book. I think this is such a wonderful approach to a really important issue: gender-based violence in India. Creating a conversation through art and storytelling that involves both boys and girls. It also reflects a multi-tiered approach to technology that allows for access for different communities that I’m really interested in. I’m really looking forward to seeing Do Not Track in 2015, a participatory project about privacy, online tracking and data mining that was partly developed at a hackathon we ran with Mozilla in 2013 – obviously very topical issues.

 

Looking at 2015 – what do you see as the major possibilities, and conversely the major challenges? What will be our path forward?

The challenges for me are still mostly around marketing and distribution.

It can be really hard to get these independent projects in front of audiences because they are different formats and are delivered in different ways across platforms. It can be hard for audiences to know how to find the work and hard to get press because these projects fall between traditional beats. So I am hoping for more paths in terms of business models and distribution avenues. I would also love to find more ways to celebrate this work and create a critical discourse around it. More funding would be nice too, because like traditional documentaries, this work still needs to be partly supported outside of the market.

I started my career steeped in a tradition of strong public media in the UK and really believe fiercely that the market shouldn’t dictate everything so I think about questions of value and civic participation all the time. Finally, I think we need to take on diversity and access in a much more dedicated way because this will make the work better and open our eyes to incredible talent and stories and because there is no longer any excuse not to do so.

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