This was the question posed by Jennifer Wilson at the BAVC Producers Institute for New Media Technologies Public Conference Day last weekend. Filmmakers (and this includes documentary filmmakers) have a myriad of options for telling their stories. Which begs the question, when does it stop being about the film? Or put another way, when does it stop being only about the film? The narrative spine need not be exclusively encased in a linear, run-time theatrical experience. (Also known as “movie”).
This is going to drive film purists nuts.
We’re not talking about the myth of taking away the primacy of the storyteller/auteur, or letting the audience choose alternate endings to the film, or adding interactivity just for the sake of “being interactive.” We’re talking about how new devices (e.g. – tablets, smartphones), eBooks (downloadable electronic books that blend text, video, audio, social media, etc.), data visualization (graphic representations of people, places and inter-relationships – paired with a timeline/chronology – sometimes presented using mind mapping software), and locative media (e.g. – GPS tagging, story maps, augmented reality apps) could all potentially be additive to the world of documentary storytelling – inclusive of the linear film, but more than just a theater or living room experience.
As a producer/director – I have many choices on how to tell the story of Get It All Out, but for practical reasons – I can’t choose them all. So, we’re working with what we have – and looking to augment the story (not the film) by all available means, when and where the cross-platform instance of the story adds value to the audience’s experience.