DIGITAL MEDIA FROM THE INSIDE OUT: My focus is digital content -- production, distribution, collaboration, innovation, creativity. Some posts have appeared across the web (HuffPo, Tribeca's Future of Film, The Wrap, MIPblog, etc.). To receive these posts regularly via email, sign up for my newsletter here.

Entries in DIY (2)


• The Gathering of the Tribes – Interactivists Meet Up

Virtual relationships are rarely enough to propel a movement upwards, even in this era of highly engaged social networking. Face time is better.

Which is why I’m kind of jazzed about the pace of live events that will bring together leading multi-platform storytellers, the so-called “transmedia” movement.

So, get ready for a deep dive into the transmedia storytelling communities as I participate and then think about two upcoming events, DIY Days and Story World.

DIY Days is the brainchild of Lance Weiler, and has been around for a few years. Twice a year he gathers like-minded folk from content and tech communities with a decidedly grassroots bent, this edition on the campus of UCLA. 

Several hackathons are underway right now that focus upon actually building projects that have been in planning for months, leading up to a series of presentations, case studies, and demos on Friday. Check out the schedule. Friday night will also include a party for the wonderful DIY indie film book, Selling Your Film without Selling Your Soul, which I wrote about in September. 

Story World is a new conference next week in San Fransisco from FW Media, a publishing enterprise that has run the Digital Book World event. The company tapped Alison Norrington as program chair, who’s done a bang-up job of assembling a line-up of presenters in virtually every category of cross-media production and strategy. This thing has the feel of a "summit" without the hubris of calling itself that.

I’ll be thrilled to hang with the many folks I already know at these two events, more more interested in diving into new work I haven’t yet experienced, and understanding the creative minds behind this revolution in storytelling. (Like these projects, added just yesterday to the Story World line-up of presentations.)

I've already interviewed Alison, and will learn much more on site at both events. So: watch this space (and a few other websites) for my analysis of what these events hold for the future of storytelling. 


• Why Marshall McLuhan would Dig Transmedia and DIY Distribution

Marshall McLuhan's pronouncement that "the medium is the message" was revolutionary back in its day.

Nearly 50 years later, McLuhan's influence survives, with many of his ideas serving as memes for wave upon wave of new media. Not for nothing did WIRED Magazine anoint McLuhan as patron saint at the dawn of the Internet!  Digital hipster Doug Coupland even published a McLuhan book subtitled” You Know Nothing of My Work” that riffed on the old gent’s ironic appearance in that Woody Allen flick.

McLuhan asserted that the container (the medium itself) mattered more than its actual content. Or something like that. Pissed a LOT of people off back then, especially people making the actual content.

McLuhan was at heart a sociologist of media, interested more in the way media technologies impact culture and and its populations, which includes, significantly, how each medium influences the others. 

In today’s media-drenched ecosphere, we are accustomed to judging “new media” products almost solely in terms of how quickly they reach "scale," meaning a large audience – and definitely how much they disrupt their predecessors. Darwinian. And McLuhanesque, too, if you think about it. Even more so if you understand.

Like many a college student slogging through the inscrutable prose of McLuhan's seminal tome "Understanding Media” I thought: jeez, I'll never understand how to understand. In this, I was not alone.

Dallas Video Festival

Such thoughts bounced around my skull as I reflect upon my weekend at the Dallas Video Festival, where I conducted a workshop on "Transmedia" and joined a panel on "The Changing Landscape of Independent Media." 

Sure, there was plenty of talk about individual films and videos on the program, such as the fascinating "Once I was a Champion," Gerard Roxburgh's film about mixed-martial arts fighter Evan Tanner, who died in the desert after a troubled life.  

Or Tiffany Schlain's "Connected,"  a memoir/manifesto that interweaves her vision of how the Internet could save the planet with some major crises in her personal life.

Neither film (er, digital movie?) has snagged conventional distribution yet, symptomatic of the state of indie film, despite premieres at Sundance and the LA Film Festival, respectively.

Containerization of Media

For me, the juiciest conversations at the Dallas event (and most other gatherings of media makers and media lovers) focused on the container, just as McLuhan did. What is the state of distribution? How do I sell my film? How do I find an audience? How do I keep up with all this stuff?

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