Hollow’s lesson of interactive storytelling & sharing

Not only is Hollow a beautiful and powerful webdoc, but its creators gave  a really “intimate” inspiring chat yesterday. Here you have the first video of yesterday’s talk,  but the important information is in its directors blog Elaine McMillion. You will find links and PDF documents with “tips” or  for example its “participation method & evaluation“. A must-see for all that are walking the interactive-storytelling-path. Thank you very much!

El webdoc Hollow és bastant impressionant, però a més podeu sentir (en anglès) la interessant xerrada que van fer ahir. A més la directora del webdoc ha compartit molt documents, links i enllaços al seu blog Elaine McMillion. A destacar: algunes consideracions alhora de sortir al terreny o avaluació del seu mètode participatiu! Thanks Hollow!


[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-O8A7KwA1g&w=560&h=315]

Webdocumentary: possibilities of the 2.0 narrations

Original in Spanish. Published in Gara Journal May 2011

 Webdocumentary: possibilities of the 2.0 narrations

The blank page has disappeared and filmmakers have started playing. No longer do they write paragraphs: they now draw circles, crosses, layers and search for new formulas. Furthermore, this weekend in Brussels, web developers, producers, storytellers and journalists have been discussing the future of non-fiction narratives.

 Clàudia Prat. Brussels

It was exactly 10 years ago, in 2002, when the term “webdocumentary” first appeared in the framework of the Festival Cinéma du Reel in George Pompidou Center in Paris (France). This Festival is one of the worldwide reference festivals in documentary, and even if ten years ago a “webdoc” did not yet exist, new narratives and paths were being forged. “Webdocumentary is a genre neither exploited nor defined, it is in between the boundaries of television, websites, online magazines or blogs” said the original promotional pamphlet. Although “webdocumentary”  is still an unknown word for the majority of the population[1], with the exception of French and English audiences, different experiments and projects have spread all over the internet: they are the pioneers of what we now consider the hybrid of  native web documentaries.

Now: what does the “webdocumentary” offer? If you cross non-fiction stories, interactivity, collective collaboration, web design and videogames you will probably sense the doors of the future -and the not so far future- opening. For example, a user enters a website and a video asks them to choose their own path; or to become a journalist and investigate through interviews; or users can suggest what they want a group of filmmakers to film every week, or can chat with other users while watching a “webdoc”. That’s it: a webdoc is a new world of opportunities, in between interactivity, participation, narrative and multimedia.

This weekend, in the Millenium Documentary Film Festival -an international indie-social documentary festival- the first Webdoc Meeting was held. Lubmor Gúeroguiv, president of the Festival, says: “Broadcasters are lowering their budgets for documentaries. The Millenium Festival has always been an insurrection against all these monopolies. Now, using the web we can offer a democratic way of producing documentaries. This is a crucial moment and it must be analyzed”. During the meeting,  hundreds of people gathered for conferences and debates, discussing new financial and narrative opportunities. Lubmor Guéroguiv adds: “It is important to have a strong webdocumentary community and have this exchange; we need a common starting point to see where we want to go.”  Zlatina Rousseva, artistic director of the Webdoc Meeting, says: “Now we don’t know what a webdocumentary is; if we will have a new language, a new art”.

The “Webdocumentary” is challenging two basic axis of “classical” documentary, which are its detractors’ fears. First, “webdoc” threatens the author figure: with interactivity, code and multiple participatory possibilities the author is no longer the only director. This is one of the key points of 2.0 narratives. But also producers’ roles are at stake: “webdocs”question the legitimacy of authors’ rights or the influx of money that used to come from TV broadcasters.

In English or French there are many well known projects: «Voyage au bout de carbon» (HonkyTonk), «Prison Valley» (Arte), «Géneration Tian’Anmen» (DNA) , «The Empty House» (Gab Web Agency, Peace Reporter), «Gaza-Sderot: Life in Spite of Every-thing» (Arte)… But what can be considered a “webdocumentary project” is not clear. The first projects mirrored the first multimedia CD, others feed themselves with participatory engagements that seem more like audiovisual blogs than documentaries. By now, just France, Germany Canada and the USA are producing these pieces. Another key point is the financial one. Currently, webdoc budgets run from 20.000 to 430.000 euros but produce almost no profits. They have been risky bets for big channels like ARTE or newspapers like “Le Monde” or “Liberàtion”.

In the Webdoc Meeting -regardless of documentary authors’ tendency to cry for funding- filmmakers attempted to be optimistic. Gerald Holubowics, a photojournalist who’s spent 10 years playing with different IT possibilities, says: “ It is the end of monopolies! It is the moment to find those people who would like to invest in our projects!” And Patric Jean, director of the polemic film “La Domintaion Masculine” (2009) says: “The non-linearity allows us to investigate in the incognito spaces of our thought. Financiers should support our experimentation!”.

“Let’s jump!” Concluding the conference, Gerald Holubowics stated: “don’t fear jumping, we have to overcome the fear of making mistakes… Even if we don’t know what webdocumentary is…!”

[1] Webdocumentary or “webdoc” is mostly used in Europe. Interactive Documentary or I-DOC is more used in USA and Canada.

Interview with David Dufresne (May, 2011)

Interview with David Dufresne. Journalist and webdocumentary-maker.

Original in Spanish Published in Gara Journal in April 2011.

“The documentary author is dead”, David Dufresne.

He is known, with Phillipe Brault, to be the coauthor of “Prison Valley” (ARTE, 2010) a French webdocumentary winner of the World Press Photo 2011 Best Multimedia. The webdocumentary allows users to explore the “Prison Valley” in Colorado, a small town surrounded by prisons: “where those who live outside live nearly inside”, says the off voice when we began our cyber-journey. This webdocumentary is the first to combine: documentary and videogame, with also blogs, forum and even a specific I-Phone App. 

Clàudia Prat, Brussels. May 2011.

Inventive and curious, Dufresne participated a few weeks ago in the Webdoc Meeting in Brussels (Belgium). The meeting was held in the framework of the Millenium Documentary Film Festival and it gathered close to a hundred of filmmakers, photographs, coders, designers and students that discussed the opportunities of the web on documentary filmmaking.

David Dufresne walked around satisfied and cheerful. In this innovative meeting he was the one who was most listened to and requested for and demanded by: e-v-e-r-y-b-o-d-y. In the cafeteria, in the sessions, in the hallways: Dufresne was the humble searched star. Obsessed with the possibilities of new narratives and attached to his Iphone, David livened up the sessions without dominating the discussions. He patiently listened to the participants and provided them with his point of view. Brilliant and smart, he overwhelmed pages of notes of many attendees.


Why did you decided to do the story on the web?

I am in Internet since 1994 the beginning of the web. But I separated my Internet activist life from the one as journalist. In 2008, there where two webdocs that made my see the light: “Gaza Sderot” (ARTE) and “Voyage au but du carbon” (Honky Tonk). I found them extraordinary. One night, my photographer and friend, Philippe Brault, showed me an article in the newspaper that talked about a city in Colorado with 36.000 habitants and 13 prisons, I told him: “Philippe, I think that’s what we have to do”.


To experiment with web?

Yes, our objective as journalists was to poke our nose in the web. We made the proposal to the Center for National French Cinema (FNC) and we contacted ARTE. In the beginning they didn’t support us, they didn’t visualize our project. Finally they said: “Well, we will lend you some money although we don’t really entrust film”. When we arrived in Canon City we realized that we had the perfect scene for a webdocumentary.


When was the moment you decided that: “the spectator will investigate and will come with us”?

This was days later, when we were in the motel in Colorado. I woke up one morning and I told to Philippe: “We should build the narrative exactly like this town”. Canon City is the typical American city cross by the main principle road. And I thought: “This will be the linearity of the narration and all the secondary roads that cross the main road will be the vanishing lines and secondary stories”.

After, I also thought that our “house” should be our motel, like it really was in reality.

Many people abandoned the webdocumentary when you told them to “register in the motel” with their e-mail, Twitter or Facebook account.

Yes, but this was our bet. The moment the spectator chooses if he wants to come with us. It is an important moment because Philippe and I, no longer we travel alone. The subject of the action turns to be “we”. It is a crucial moment. Also when the spectator registers we can remember where he left the story and when he re-enters to the webdoc, we can move them to point where it was.

The motel was your real motel?

Yes, and the room is my room. We got the idea from the typical videogame of the 80’s, where you could go around and choose what you wanted to do. Philippe did thousands of pictures and I registered the real sound of the motel. They are real sounds: I think you can feel it in the documentary.


A part from Philippe: what was the role of coders and designers in this webdoc?

Every, every day we phone and talked with Upian the “web-producer” company. Before we went to Colorado we look together webdocumentarys, stories, designers and we start thinking different possibilities.


Webdoc is the sum of all this professional profiles?

Yes, and for me: this was the most incredible. Upian people didn’t come from the journalism field and they were giving us total freedom. And ARTE professionals too. It was like playing ping-pong: a collective around the work, without ego problems. We were many ego’s walking together, talking from creator to creator. I never thought this could be possible.

You said in this meeting “the author is dead”. But we also see appear a collective author…

Yes, in this kind of Festival I love saying the documentary author is dead. I want to provoke. But I said dead in its “classical way”. The author can no longer be alone: it has changed of place. A camera or a photography director has always had a role, but the filmmaker was the one who finally decided everything. In a webdoc you can’t: you have to connect with many knowledges and energies. You are not alone.

Maybe we are talking about a new author?

Yes, in front the conservatism of the documentary’s world. The author has changed place, it is not where it used to be. It shares the narration with the spectator and becomes an orchestra director.

What do you think about the “participatory myth”?

It’s a myth… but is also the web’s grace. When the documentary will really integrate this idea, when it will go together with participation: it will be the revolution. The hierarchy age of “the one who knows” and “the one that doesn’t know” is finished. Roles are exchangeable. Although participation is not mandatory: is not a sine qua non condition.


You filmed Prison Valley in the moment Sarkozy was elected, 5 years ago. One of his statements was to increase the repression in France. What’s the political role of a webdocumentary?


Personally, if a documentary pretends to be neutral; it is no longer interesting for me. The documentary has always a point of view; it wants to change something… Documentary is politics. This is not a documentary against Sarkozy but a way of asking ourselves: Do we really want repressive policies’? Well, let’s go to the place where they have the most prisons in the world and see if they are better…



What risks have the documentary in front of Internet privatization and censorship? The SOPA policy, the closing of websites…?

Being in the web, occupying this territory is very political. We have to protect the freedom of the Internet.. Internet has been an unattended space of communication, it was born from military investigations but we are using it in a thousand ways… Webdocumentary is filmmaking but we can also by affected by the censorship in the Net. It is important to keep struggling for this freedom.


What is your current project?

I am working with TOXA, a multimedia platform for NFB (National Film Board of Canada) and co-produced by ARTE. It is a very interesting project but I cannot say anything now. It is a really sensitive subject. The story is in Canada, but it touches worldwide. It is not a Canadian subject. If we achieved to do it we will release it in one-year a half time. I really hope so!

La fragilitat de les eines webdoc: dos R.I.P en dos mesos

En menys de dos mesos, dos plataformes webdoc han anunciat que tancaven. Final de 3WDOC i RIP de StoryPlanet.

Quantes en veurem aparèixer i desaparèixer en els pròxims mesos? Quines experiències heu tingut amb aquesta mena d’eines?

Aquesta és la fragilitat dels treballs webdoc fets sense “programadorxs”. Quan una eina tanca, desapareixen també tots els projectes webdoc que hi havien online +  totes les hores de feina + “know-how” de saber-les fer funcionar.

Els comunicats

Aquí podeu llegir el comunicat que acaba de llançar 3 WDOC  en anglès, francès i castellà. Bàsicament diuen que per “falta de mitjans adequats” (?), a partir del març 2014, les obres fetes en aquesta plataforma ja no seràn disponibles. Però que el codi font serà descarregable “en breu”.

Storyplanet anunciava el 17 d’octubre del 2013 que tancava. En aquest cas un programador de la companyia, enfadat per no cobrar, els va fer caure la plataforma i Bjarke Myrthu, CEO d’ Storyplanet, va decidir plegar. Adjunto el lamentable text que va enviar a totes les usuàries de Storyplanet.

Hello there
It’s been over a month since Storyplanet’s online builder was shut down by our former freelance developers. We have worked intensely on restoring the service, but unfortunately the only way forward would be legal action, which will be very expensive and take a lot of time. So instead of pursuing this I have decided to shut down and use the energy on building the next amazing interactive storytelling tool.
I realize that you might have live projects that will be affected, and that you might loose a lot of work, and I am truly sorry for putting you in this situation (if it’s any comfort I’ve personally lost years of work as well). But after a lot of thinking and soul searching I have come to the conclusion that I would rather offer you some perks and premiums on the next project, than try to help you restore something which will soon be a thing of the past in any case.
So what is the next big thing? I really cannot tell you yet, but since my decision of closing down Storyplanet’s creation platform I have gathered a new group of amazing people around me, and I see a project forming that will redefine publishing all together. If I’m right I will be back in a new way in 2014 with something incredibly powerful.
I will never forget the support you gave us with Storyplanet, and I will let you know when we launch, and also how we plan to offer you some free things that other users will pay for, as well as some free support to get you up and running fast and smooth.
Even though it’s never fun to shut down a project it’s part of being an entrepreneur, and while I may have been put on the infirmary right now, I’m determined to return to the race as soon as possible.
All the best,

Bjarke Myrthu – Storyplanet founder & CEO

Informació és poder!

Amb aquestes dos R.I.P L’únic que se m’acudeix és que compartim informació i experiències per – si volem fer servir una eina webdoc – saber on trepitgem.

A nivell personal: cal dir que amb Nezvanova vam estar provant la plataforma 3WDOC per al webdoc  Els 400 anys i ens va funcionar tant malament, (ens va fer perdre TANT de temps!!) que la vam acabar desestimant pel webdoc.

Sobre Storyplanet recordo perfectement a Bjarke Myrthual al webdox de Leuven (Bèlgica), assegurar-nos que la seva plataforma sempre estaria online, que no havíem de patir per aquesta “dependència”. Em pregunto qui confiarà en ell després de tancar així Storyplanet, encara que prometi  “something incredibly powerful” pel 2014.

El millor és fer servir eines lliures. De fet, el millor seria treballar amb unx programadorx. Però si heu d’utilitzar eines, millor que siguin lliures, encara que a vegades siguin més “limitades”,  (PopcornMaker o Zeega o la incipient tool Twine per exemple!

Encara que si 3wdoc allibera el seu codi abans de tancar -com diu al comunicat-, igual així es podràn recuperar els treballs fets en aquesta plataforma. Què en penseu?

Genial si voleu compartir les vostres experiències, proves o infos!

Per la resta: que la força ens acompanyi.

Primers Videos de la I Trobada

1/10:: I Trobada – webDOCC Benvinguda

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/68735359 w=500&h=281]

Clàudia Prat presenta la I Trobada i fa una breu introducció als webdocumentals. Els webdocs d’exemple els podeu trobar en aquest apartat també.

2/10:: I Trobada – NEZVANOVA

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/68735664 w=500&h=281]

Elisenda Trilla i Samuel Sebastian (Nezvanova Produccions) presenten el webdocumental “Els 400 anys” que difondràn amb el Diari Ara.

3/10:: I Trobada Jorge Caballero + Estampa + Gusano Films

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/68735645 w=500&h=281]

Jorge Caballero, tutor de webdocs dins el Màster de Documental Creatiu de la UAB presenta “Las Sombras del Progreso” sombrasdelprogreso.com/ (2012)  i el projecte que dins del Màster estàn realitzant enguany. A la conversa també hi participa Estampa, la productora multimedia que ha desenvolupat tècnicament els projectes. Jorge també explica el projecte que està realitzant amb Gusano Films a través d’una beca de la Fundació La Caixa.

4/10:: I Trobada – Elena Fraj

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/68735644 w=500&h=281]

Elena Fraj, presenta “La guerra en casa” un projecte webdoc realitzat amb Ona Bros, Pere Cullera, Odile Caravantes i @alftole sobre memòria històrica. Aquí podeu veure el teaser: laguerraencasa.net

Un èxit gràcies a totxs vosaltres!

Gràcies a totxs els que vau venir i vau fer de la trobada un espai tant interessant i enriquidor! Sembla que ens hem carregat d’energia les unxs de les altres!

I sembla que en volem més!

Pel que va sortir al pica-pica, aquí un nou PAD:

II Trobada “conversa” de creadorxs. De què parlarem?


Gràcies Lali i Pas9Nou per acollir-nos amb tanta calidesa! I felicitats Culinària Audiovisual pel triomf de pastissos&empanades&truites!!!

Seguim connectades! (Merci Isabel Muntané per les fotos!!!)