Recently I had a twitter conversation with the legendary film producer Ted Hope. This short conversation validated a few things I’ve been thinking about in relation to the digital space, it’s impact of filmmaking, and how I, as a filmmaker, can take advantage of the quickly changing landscape in order to get my stories out.
Enter the digital storyteller.
What is a digital storyteller?
A digital storyteller (as I define it) is someone who not only leverages the internet as a delivery service but, embraces the medium as a method of communication, and importantly, as a means of engaging their core audience.
Stories that don’t engage, fail. Storytellers that do the same are likely to fail too.
Parts of this methods are not new. Ed Burns, for instance, was the first writer/director to release a feature exclusively on digital with Purple Violets.
Burns has gone on to release Nice Boy Johnny, and Newly Weds both digital only.
This model is straightforward: Write. Shoot. Release digitally. Engage.
As an aside, I think Nice Boy Johnny is his best work. Do yourself a favor and go rent it in iTunes.
However, this is just the beginning of the digital storytelling revolution my friends.
Now, I want you to think about your favorite movie of all time, and I want you to remember what it was like when you first show it. How did it make you feel?
Now imagine being able to connect with the writer/director in a meaningful way.
Imagine an iPad or iPhone app that would allow you to get backstory of said movie. Backstory that was never intended to be seen on the larger screen but very much apart of the writers process. This could potentially be release as additional content for those who want to connect more deeply.
Moreover, imagine the various threads of a story went somewhere. Imagine one of these side story or event within your favorite movie became a new story delivered as a web-series!
Now you’re thinking…yeah great…more dribble to digest!
But what if this multi-platform storytelling approach could include educational elements? What if, a story of a dysfunctional family had meaningful content beyond the mere? Little Miss Sunshine. Nietzsche. Anyone?
Can you dig it! Can you dig it! (10 point for anyone who can tell me what movies that lines comes from (…think…late 70’s movie set in NYC).
Hmmm…let us think about this together. What could be of both interest and benefit to someone who wants to go beyond the 90 mintue story? How about the screenplay? What about the research notes on depression that one might write as a story develops?
What about an eBook for the iPad that follows the main thread of the movie but with embeds online resources, podcasts, and other such educational material like TED talks? So that as someone reads about character X and their fight against Y there is material that they can investigate at their own pace.
Ok, now we’re cookin!
See, the story presented in the 90 minutes of a movie are not where any story begins, nor ends.
As a digital storyteller we now have the scope to go deeper. To tell a story that both satisfies and educates.
This excites me as it allows us to stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, benefit from this, and benefit others.
CAN YOU DIG IT!
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