It’s a challenging proposition, summing up an experience as complex as ForwardSlashStory 2017, or F/S2017 for short. From experience I know that many of the revelations from the event will become apparent only later, in some cases much later. It’s like when you feel you need to sleep on something to get it right, only now I feel I need to live and breathe on it for months to get everything put into place.
What is readily apparent though is that Christy Dena and Lance Weiler, founders and main culprits regarding the event, have struck gold with their vision. It’s the most positive professional gathering I’ve ever attended, with the stated aim to let the people who normally mentor, teach and run events or creative processes experience something that is only for them. I can only say that from my point of view it’s working very well.
A couple of things making the event so good are obvious from the outset:
- the People are absolutely amazing. You can read the list of the people attending on the ForwardSlashStory web page, but those short introductions only tell half of the story, if that. Highly creative, experienced, intelligent, accomplished, positive… They are the kind of people you wouldn’t mind spending more time with, if you had the opportunity.
- the Location has been stunning both times I’ve participated. Nosara, Costa Rica in 2015 had its intense charm, but Bintan, Indonesia was something different. That kind of setting also serves the purpose of letting the participants truly feel that they are part of a unique experience and that it is not “business as usual” by any stretch of the imagination.
What isn’t immediately obvious is the creative environment that is created from the get-go. The unique luxury of being surrounded by people who not only immediately understand what you are trying to explain to them – no terminology hiccups on the way etc – but also can expand on those thoughts or add their own, from their own experiences and creative processes. It gives birth to those kind of situations where you can’t leave a conversation, you can’t go to bed, you can’t get up from the lunch table… simply because so many impulses are firing off in your brain that you feel you have to stay in that exchange of ideas and knowledge, or do yourself a disservice.
Further, it gives a unique possibility to look into the fields that other people are active in – from live action roleplaying to experience design, from documentary filmmaking to writing for games. With everyone attending being consummate professionals, the level of information and discussion is high. During the intensive days at the Loola eco-resort we were diving into location based storytelling via audio, into ten key principles for successful transmedia production, into transforming cities with stories and technology, into deep personal spaces and the best ways to explore and distribute the stories within… and many, many more practised and places.
What have I learnt? So, so much. I’ll be incorporating bits and pieces in current and coming projects, and will write more about those during the coming weeks. Until then, I can only encourage everyone reading this to look into attending F/S in future years if the possibility arises. It is so very worth it. And if any benevolent benefactors are reading this text – get in touch with Christy and Lance. If there is one venture I would urge you to back, it’s this one.