Conor and I returned to Toronto just over a week ago after taking part in the first ever Sundance Institute New Frontier Story Lab. In the past week I’ve been able to reflect upon my time at the lab, go through the notes I’ve taken, look through the photos, and I still can’t believe how great an experience it was for both of us.
The New Frontier Story Lab is one designed by Sundance to help creators of transmedia projects. By transmedia, we are referring to telling stories and creating worlds that can be told through multiple media, whether they are digital, film, television, stage, game, real-life experience, etc. In a follow-up interview with the Sundance website I answered some questions about my thoughts and experiences with transmedia projects – you can read that interview here.
Conor and I were honoured to be invited to the lab for many reasons. One, it served as a certain validation for us and our efforts to take Kill Shakespeare beyond the comic book page. Secondly, we knew that we would meet a number of professional advisors that would give us notes and thoughts and spur us on to further ideas and ways of telling Kill Shakespeare stories. Thirdly, we were interested to find out what other creators were doing in the transmedia space.
On all three fronts were not disappointed at all. The advisors that sat down with us were top-notch. We met with Marti Noxon, the talented film and television writer (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Mad Men, Fright Night), who gave us great notes on our script – and shared with us the ins-and-outs of television writers’ rooms and studios. Sue Bonds of 42 Entertainment showed us what can be accomplished with Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) and let us know what the studios and filmmakers today are looking for. Michael Goldenberg (Contact, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Green Lantern) broke down our script for us. Richard
LaGravenese (Oscar-nommed for The Fisher King, Bridges of Madison County, Water for Elephants) served as early inspiration for us in the lab with his honesty and his love of mythology. Wesley Strick (Cape Fear, Wolf, Doom) put everything into perspective for us and challenged us to think big. Transmedia expert Lance Weiler made us really examine Kill Shakespeare as a transmedia franchise and more importantly one that could involve participatory storytelling at its finest. And Nick Fortugno of Playmatics showed us the possibility of games and allowed us to conceive the whole narrative structure within the medium.
Just as good as the advisors were the other fellows that attended the lab with us. For the purposes of confidentiality we can’t get into describing the projects that each team has been developing but as we move forward we’ll aim to do individual spotlights on each
to help out the project. Look out for great projects from Yasmin Elayat and Jigar Mehta (18 Days in Egypt), Brigitte Dale and Robbie Wilkins (Follow Back), Tommy Pallotta and Femke Wolting (The Last Hijack), Chris Johnson, Hank Willis-Thomas and Kamal Sinclair (Question Bridge) and Chris Milk (Rome). Thanks to all of you fantastic storytellers for the inspiration and your thoughts on Kill Shakespeare!
And the staff of Sundance was fantastic to us. They really believe in the project and we’re so appreciative of their feedback and direction over the course of the week. The staff included Michelle Satter, Keri Putnam, Cara Mertes, Carrie Beck, Cullen Conly and Kristin Feeley. Special thanks to Carrie Beck who served as our liaison with the lab – making us aware of it and prepping us for it once we were selected.
And finally, how could I not mention the surroundings? The Sundance Resort, about 45 minutes outside of Salt Lake City, is absolutely gorgeous. Mountains surrounded us each day (which made my morning runs quite the challenge…) and the weather was pretty good throughout. How could you not be inspired by taking a quick hike and seeing the views?
I’ll be writing more on transmedia moving forward and I look forward to keeping in touch with everyone from the Lab. It was a great experience and I am charged to climb up further mountains with the knowledge gained last week.