To date I have more than 29,000 words of script written. More than 130 pages. That’s before I include natural and wild sound, explainers (i.e. a demonstration by Miss Rockwell De Vil or Lou Meisel rummaging through his stacks and stacks of pin up art at The Great American Pinup), and other elements. The idea is that the interactive process will begin first and then then film itself will be structured. It’s all weird, and largely driven by the fact that I’m under pressure to produce a product which can be vetted and reviewed (and therefore “count”) in my academic tenure process. The film itself is the easier outlet – concrete, straightforward (so to speak), and less exploratory – than an evolving interactive format.
So even though I’m writing the cross-platform elements, as I move ahead I’ll be focusing on the production of the festival-based film. 55 minutes or so of narrative-based, three-act documentary storytelling. Inciting incidents. Conflict and resolution. Cinematic bows to wrap up the process.
But I keep getting sidetracked into the i-doc world. Interactive documentary, for the uninitiated. Earlier today, I began playing with a film told first person POV, Sortie en Mer, where “you” are hit by a boom on a sailboat and tossed overseas. Frantic swiping of the mouse (or screen, in the case of the tablet where I viewed the i-doc), kept me “alive.” The film was less a doc and more a public service announcement for the need to wear life jackets when aboard a boat (as the film’s final screen reminded the viewer), but nonetheless the interactivity was highlighted.
And then there’s Door Into the Dark, the i-doc hit to emerge from the latest Sheffield Doc Fest. This is a film installation, which helps audiences to understand the concept of blindness. The filmmakers, May Abdalla and Amy Rose, said at the festival that they’re helping/encouraging audience members to understand
The value of giving yourself up to the ambiguity of uncertainty.
At the MIT Media Lab, they’re experimenting with a storytelling platform called FOLD. It’s still in beta testing and hasn’t been released, but the best I can understand it’s something akin to real-life annotations/background alongside the story – pop-ups or other links that add value to the content without distracting from the story being told. How different is that from Scalar – a similarly-annotated platform developed for the digital humanities and hosted by the University of Southern California? I’m not sure – but I’m on their mailing list and plan to play and find out once the public release happens. But first blush indicates that both platforms avoid the HTML-intensive technology expertise required of another linkable database CMS, the open source Omeka out of the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University.
Participatory exhibitions. Play-based websites with more similarity to video games than documentaries. Immersive projects. Technological transformations.
There are simply far too many options.
Just keeping up is a challenge.
Cover image from Alice in Wonderland.