On November 17, DGA members gathered in the Los Angeles boardroom to hear new ideas about storytelling in the technological world. Sponsored by the AD/UPM Council, West’s Cross Category Committee, the seminar Inspiration, Innovation, Initiative: Discovering “The Next Big Thing” featured discussions with futurists, writers, producers and executives working at the intersection of technology and story known as transmedia storytelling: the technique of telling a single story or story experience across multiple platforms and formats using current digital technologies.
Following a welcome and introductions by AD/UPM Council West Chair Marie Cantin, the seminar kicked off with Writer/Futurist PJ Manney’s discussion about storytelling on the virtual platform. Manney ‑ the author of Empathy in the Time of Technology: How Storytelling is the Key to Empathy ‑ set the stage with her talk about the neurological wiring process viewers undergo when they take in what is seen on the screen, how technology can create an experience on the web that pushes traditional ideas, and how to find the motivation to continuously create work that is accessible to wider audiences.
Manney was followed by a panel discussion that explored transmedia trends on the Internet and how companies are utilizing the web as a multiplatform for new ideas, and to increase work opportunities within the industry, especially for DGA members. Cross Category Committee Co-Chair Michael Beugg introduced the panel, which included David Gale, Executive Vice President of MTV Cross Media; Christopher “C.K.” Kubasik, creator of the online series The Booth at the End; and writer/producer/director Mark Warshaw, co-founder of The Alchemists, an entertainment company specializing in transmedia storytelling. The discussion was moderated by UPM/Producer Michael Peyser, who is also a tenured professor at the USC School of Cinematic Arts.
The panelists explored a variety of topics that sought to answer questions such as: is the nature of storytelling at risk in a technological world; is there a new entertainment paradigm; and is cross-over from traditional media in your future, and supplemented their discussions by referring to clips from their own work? Gale shared one of his earlier MTV projects, $5 Cover, which began as a simple idea that transpired into a global movement for musicians. Kubasik shared a clip from The Booth at the End to demonstrate how he used tools within reach to pitch his project. Warshaw added to the discussion with his example from East Los High, a series he recently shot for the Internet and that has a website component to supplement interaction with the audience.
UCLA professor and new media researcher Bob Rosen was also invited to share his insights about how the new digital aesthetic is emerging from a media saturated world.
After the panel concluded their remarks, all the attendees networked over lunch.
AD/UPM Council West Cross Category Committee:
Co-Chairs: Michael Beugg, Marie Cantin, Tim Engle
Committee members: Katie Carroll, Clark Credle, Elaine Dysinger, Brian Frankish, Katterli Frauenfelder, Franklyn Gottbetter, Mark Hansson, Jules Kovisars, Rosemary Marks, Marc Newland, Jennie O'Keefe, Jaysene Overton, Michele Panelli-Venetis, Richard Prince, Liz Ryan, Dwight Williams, Susan Zwerman