Future of Film – Story-Hack: Where Storytelling and Technology Meet

Last week I wrote a post for the Tribeca’s Future of Film blog explaining the rise of the technology revolution here in New York and what it means to the transmedia community. Here it is, re-posted in its entirety for you, my faithful readers.

Could the concept of a hackathon be applied to storytelling? Over a period of 48 hours starting April 28, Jen Begeal and StoryCode will find out the answer.

The New York transmedia community is growing quickly. None of us should be surprised, as New York is well known for its independent film community thanks to numerous festivals, schools and independent theatres.

However, many people may not realize that New York is also fast becoming a mecca for the technology crowd. According to meetup.com, New York is ranked as the second largest technology hub in the US, just being beat out by the (no surprise) San Francisco Bay Area. Trends indicate, however, that New York’s tech community could surpass the West Coast as early as the end of this year, which would be a first ever in the historic battle between Silicon Valley and Silicon Alley.

I receive daily e-mails listing new tech meetup groups forming in New York, and though the official NY Tech Meetup continues to hold the top place (at last count over 22,000 members), these new niche groups provide intimate arenas for like minded technologists to gather and share ideas, concepts, designs and talent. This combination of talent, discussion and ideas is also growing within the transmedia community and it is now providing a new space for creative development.

In its most basic form, transmedia is the place where technology and storytelling meet. As cross-platform storytelling becomes more prevalent in mainstream media, the demand for creators who can straddle both worlds grows as well.

The largest hurdle creators face, however, is bridging the gap between the two worlds. Many storytellers find that they lack the basic concepts of technology (from web design to coding). Likewise technologists have difficulty developing engaging narratives for their projects. Connecting the two groups is the primary focus of the New York transmedia community. This is how it began.

Founded in February 2010 by Mike Knowlton and Aina Abiodun the Transmedia NYC meetup group has quickly become the largest meetup group of its kind in the United States. Starting out with a few enthusiasts meeting at a local bar, the community has quickly grown to over 650 active members, whose event space is currently sponsored by The Film Society at Lincoln Center.

As Transmedia NYC expanded and developed, the need for a more robust and focused hub was foreseen, and in June of 2011 Mike, Aina and two other members, myself and Rachel Fairbanks came together to build a not-for-profit arm focused on the creation aspect of cross-platform storytelling. It is called, StoryCode.

StoryCode is designed to be an incubator, a place where technologists and storytellers come to develop and share creative content across media and technology platforms. It is modeled on Power to the Pixel, a company based in the U.K. that helps international filmmakers create, finance and distribute their projects across the growing cross-media entertainment industry.

StoryCode looks to provide an ongoing place where independent creators can come to learn, network, create and fund their projects. Since its inception, the focus of Transmedia NYC and StoryCode has been to exhibit projects that have had some commercial success. The presenters have come from around the world to showcase their works. These projects have included stories on human rights such as America 2049, the National Parks of Canada and the interactive narrative campaign launched for the premiere of Game Of Thrones on HBO.

This year, StoryCode will push the boundaries of the innovation one step further and launch a new endeavor, the first ever story-hack.

The story-hack concept comes from the traditional technology hackathon. A technology hackathon is an event in which computer programmers collaborate intensively on software-related projects. Hackathons typically last between a day and a week in length. Some hackathons are intended simply for educational or social purposes, while others are designed to create new software or improvements upon existing software. Hackathons tend to have a specific focus which can include the use of an application or a defined subject matter.

The story-hack will go one step farther and will include a narrative component. A few months ago, Mike Knowlton wrote a compelling piece, titled StoryHacks for the Future of Film Blog where he asked if the hackathon concept could be applied to storytelling.

We are about to try and answer that question.

The challenge of the story-hack is very clear. Design a cohesive narrative project spanning three or more technology platforms and execute it over the course of 48 hours.

The weekend long event, begins on the morning of April 28th and concludes the evening of April 29th. It is open to writers, designers, filmmakers, and developers. Current university students, recent grads and working professionals are welcome to participate.

The story-hack is being hosted by StoryCode event partner The Film Society at Lincoln Center, open-source video community Kaltura, social networking tool Social Samba, and SMS technology service Twilio.

The story-hack will be judged by a jury of notable creatives, technologists and sponsors who will evaluate each project and presentation based on creativity, originality as well as the innovation of the idea and presentation. Prizes and the chance to present each project will conclude the weekend’s events on the evening of the 29th with a cash grant being awarded to the winners

We want to provide a collaborative atmosphere, a place where storytellers and technologists come together to build projects showcasing their talent and bridge the gap between the two communities. This is the first of many events to come out of StoryCode that will support creators and better connect storytelling and technology.

For more information or to sign-up for this event please check out our Story Hack webpage.

MBA Students, Meet the Transmedia Professionals

I was honored on Friday to be a part of a Transmedia panel during the Columbia MBA Media and Entertainment Conference. The panel was designed to be a discussion on defining the term transmedia and how it plays a role in today’s multi-screen entertainment. Other panelists included industry professionals; Alan Seiffert of SyFy Ventures, Jeff Gomez of Starlight Runner Entertainment and Steve Coulson of Campfire. Topics ranged from the use of transmedia as a marketing tool to the ingredients required for a successful project, which prompted plenty of conversation between the four of us, who all come from vastly different career backgrounds.

I choose not to go too in depth into the conversation itself, as fellow transmedia ally, Simon Pulman, wrote a brilliant recap of, not only ours, but a few other panels from the conference, which you should check out here (our panel is at the end). I do however want to thank Rafael Filippe and Leao Carvalho, both from Columbia’s Business School, for reaching out to me and asking me to be on the panel, and to our moderator, Kabir Ahuja for his great questions and control of the conversation. And while I am no novice to public speaking I want to also thank Jeff and Steve for once again making me feel comfortable during our discussion and also to Alan, whom I met for the first time on Friday, for likewise being an engaging and gracious fellow panelist. Here’s to the future of transmedia and the hopes that we converted a few more business majors!

Goofing around a bit before the panel

Happy New Year, I Did it Again or How 2012 Will Rock the Transmedia World

You know, every year I promise myself I’m going to get better at my updates, and every year I fail, I suck, I’m sorry, moving on.

Anyway, today is more of an update on where things are in the world of transmedia, you’ll get thoughtful posts when I actually have more than 5 minutes to devote to my writing (I swear).

StoryCode update – First of all a special thank you goes out to the wonderful, Simon Pullman, whose post this morning about StoryCode on his blog, Transmythology, solidified our goal of identifying ourselves as not just “another meetup group” but as an independent entity being developed through member and sponsorship support. Secondly I want everyone to take a look at the StoryCode web page, this will soon be the home page for our brand new (very robust) website. Some elements we plan to include on the website will be information about upcoming meetups and events, case studies of projects presented during meetups and hackathon information.  We are hoping the new site will be live by mid-February, so bookmark the URL, Digg it, or just file it away on a twitter feed somewhere because you’re going to want to see what we have in store for 2012. Lastly, regarding the hackathon, some of you heard mumblings about us holding the StoryCode hack during this year’s upcoming NYC DIY Days, and though we appreciate all of Lance’s support and willingness to help provide a location and resources for us, the reality is we were just too short on time. Never fear though, we have only pushed back until late Spring and promise to keep everyone up-to-date as we know more details.

Transmedia NYC – In case you missed it yesterday, we posted our January meetup, Steve Coulson Presents GAME OF THRONES, it’s pretty self explanatory but to recap: Steve Coulson from Campfire will present “The Secrets of the Kingdom” a look behind-the-scenes at some of the techniques and strategies employed to promote the first season of HBO’s Game of Thrones, which combined unique sensory-driven experiences with an immersive fan-centric puzzle challenge. If you did miss the announcement and wanted to attend I regret to inform you that this highly anticipated event reached capacity in under 4 hours. The good news is you can still sign up for the wait list and hope that a few people have some last minute engagements to attend. One caveat about this event, unlike our past events, it will NOT BE LIVE STREAMED! Due to the sensitive nature of the content this will essentially be a closed event.

You stick 'em with the pointy end

Me – Isn’t this why you people come here, you want to hear about MY life, about MY thoughts? I didn’t think so, but in case any of you WERE wondering about what little ol’ me is doing besides steering the StoryCode ship, here’s an update or two:

  • The Migraine Project is is a feature documentary film in the making whose goal is to pursue the history and mystery of Migraine and its remarkable place in the human condition. My role as the social media strategist is to help garner public donations and community support through social media channels including twitter (@migraineproject) and facebook. If you or someone you know suffers from migraines or cluster headaches I urge you to donate and help these amazing filmmakers get this project made.

The Migraine Project

  • Ride5 Group – I have been acting as a social media consultant with Ride5 for over the past year and a half and have had the opportunity to work on some interesting projects including our own transmedia event Shoe Power. Recently we have gone through a re-branding which showcases the separate entities of the company which include Creative (social media), Film and Technology. The new structure allows us to be more transparent with our projects while ensuring that our clients are receiving the best possible service.


  • Zenith – Or as I like to call it, “the little pet project that won’t die”, is finally winding down a bit on our end. We are currently in the process of writing and editing the case study and soon hope to have a completed piece to share with the transmedia and independent film community. This case study, like all case studies, is an important part of the creative process as it will outline our successes, failures and discoveries as we move forward on our next projects.

Stop Zenith - transmedia project

Well, that pretty much sums things up for now, I still promise to write a less informative and more thoughtful post at a later date. Happy New Year everyone, here’s to starting 2012 with a bang!