A remote beach in Central America – At the edge of the jungle
Forward Slash Story heads to Nosara, Costa Rica. Mountain tops, infinity pools, monkeys and beautiful sunsets provide the setting for an exploration into the art, craft and business of storytelling in the 21st Century.
HANK BLUMENTHAIL (USA)
Hank Blumenthal is a producer and director of movies (The Ghost Club: Spirits Never Die, In the Soup, Strawberry Fields,) a creative director and producer for interactive television and digital media (Viacom, R/GA, Bravo, and IFC,) and a PhD candidate at Georgia Institute of Technology investigating transmedia storytelling and new paradigms for stories. Hank created The Ghost Club storyscape, a project that included two augmented reality games (iPhone and Android,) an alternate reality game, a web series, comics, and much more. Another recent research project is the Universal Threshold Object, funded by Intel in the ETV Lab, a handheld haptic device that creates dramatic agency for the user. He was Program Manager, Emerging Media at the Possible Worldwide agency and launched interactive television channels for Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, and MTV on the Microsoft Media Center. While he was Director of Production for Sputnik7.com, he won a Webby Award and was nominated twice. He is the producer of In the Soup, winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, and many other movies. Hank teaches at Georgia Tech, taught at SVA in New York, and lectured at NYU, Stonybrook, Hunter, and New College. He’s a member of the PGA and SAG.
STEVE BULL (USA)
Steve Bull, a transmedia artist creating location-specific narratives, games, and AR, is a graduate of the NYU/ITP program. He worked for Paul Allen’s Interval Research, creating UI for the Experience Museum, interactive storybooks and a You-in-a-Movie arcade movie booth. His interactive cell phone games include 3 CTIA finalists and “Sleuth” for the Come Out and Play Fest. He lectured on “Creating Interactive Fiction” at Fordham, and co-created Neighborhood Narratives at Temple and NYU for locals to geo-locate stories. His AR exhibits are installed at the Barbican, Williamsburg, Governors’ Island, U. of Hawaii, and Bogliasco. Teen Vogue commissioned a text-messaging live VJ event converting text to speech and emoticons into audio flourishes. His 12 Cellphonia performances stream user-generated operettas on San Jose, world water crisis, etc., most recently at Wave Farm on GMOs. As a Bellagio fellow, Bull designed processing controlled live-video for the opera WET at LA’s Disney Hall. The Bogliasco Foundation commissioned him to create an AR Riviera walk. At the Atlantic Ctr. for the Arts he created an AR score under the guidance of choreographer Victoria Marks. Bull wrote 3 Movies of the Week, and co-directed an experimental doc the Getty termed “one of the two best of the decade.” Leonardo, NY Arts, and NY Times have reviewed his work. His “Slavery Tour” for the NY Historical Soc was a world’s top ten podcast, and received the top award from the National Council for Public History.
CAITLIN BURNS (USA)
Caitlin is a Transmedia Producer and business consultant for media companies based in New York City. An elected member of the Producer’s Guild of America’s East Coast New Media Council Board of Delegates she serves as the Liaison to the East Coast and on the PGA Women’s Impact Network. In 2015, Caitlin started her own consulting firm providing business and content strategy to projects large and small, Caitlin Burns & Associates and her current clients include: The Disney Channel, Cognitive Edge, Tool of North America, Campfire, Hush, The Oregon Health Authority, and Diageo. Her past work with Starlight Runner Entertainment includes: Pirates of the Caribbean, Fairies, and Tron Legacy for Disney, James Cameron’s Avatar for 20th Century Fox, Halo for Microsoft, Happiness Factory for The Coca-Cola Company, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for Nickelodeon and Transformers for Hasbro. She has also worked with Sony, Showtime, Pepperidge Farm, Scholastic, The Canadian Media Fund, The Tribeca New Media Fund, FEMSA, Wieden Kennedy, Reebok and Stratasys. Caitlin’s independent project, McCarren Park, is a full-length feature parody distributed by bar crawl of Williamsburg launched at Tribeca Interactive Day in 2012 and screened at the New York Film Festival: Convergence. Caitlin studied theatrical production design and environmental systems science at New York University, has thrown large immersive dance parties through New York City Area, apprenticed a milliner for two years and is now also the mother of two children under 10.
ANA DOMB (CR)
Ana Domb Krauskopf the director and founder of the Interaction Design School at Veritas University in Costa Rica, the first IxD graduate school in Central America. She is a strategist and ethnographer and until recently was the Director of Brand Innovation at Almabrands in Chile where she still teaches at the Universidad del Desarrollo. In the US, she worked in user experience research at THE MEME, a design consultancy based out of Cambridge with clients including Samsung and LG. She holds a Master’s degree in Comparative Media Studies from MIT, where she was a researcher with the Convergence Culture Consortium under the direction of Henry Jenkins. In her native Costa Rica, she co-founded Cinergia, the first film production fund designed to stimulate media activity in Central America and Cuba. There, she also worked with the Papaya Music label, where she co-produced the Papaya Fest, an eclectic large-scale Central American music festival. Ana is a Futures of Entertainment Fellow. She has consulted with Turner Broadcasting and Comcast, as well as working beside anthropologist Grant McCracken.
CAITLIN FISHER (CAN)
I direct York University’s Augmented Reality Lab, dedicated to the future of storytelling, and create award-winning work and expressive tools. My storytelling across many digital spaces (immersive, mobile, hypertext, hmd, Rift) is lyric and I believe strong storytelling translates across devices. I completed Canada’s first born-digital hypertextual dissertation and have exhibited my digital stories internationally, winning many awards including the International Electronic Literature Award for Fiction in 2002 for my hypermedia novella, These Waves of Girls, and the International Vinaròs Prize for Electronic Literature in 2008 for outstanding work in literature produced and delivered with computational media. The winning piece, Andromeda, was enabled by a custom software solution I developed and is one of the first poems ever created in AR. Circle, a story of four generations of women, was shortlisted for the 2011 UK New Media Writing Prize. A recent AR story, 200 Castles, was exhibited for 4 months in Paris. New work for Oculus Rift – Cardamom of the Dead – premiered 2014. I held the Canada Research Chair in Digital Culture for the past decade and was a 2013 Fulbright Research Chair at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Currently I am working with Steve Mann, widely considered the father of both wearable computing and augmented reality, creating long-form interactive mobile narratives for MetaSpaceglass.
TREVOR HALDENBY (CAN)
Trevor Haldenby is an imaginative futurist telling new kinds of stories about emerging technologies. He is a graduate of the CFC Media Lab (2004), and OCAD University’s master’s program in Strategic Foresight and Innovation (2013). As interactive producer he has worked on futuristic online projects including the virtual world Habbo Hotel, and Earth Rangers’ Bring Back the Wild crowdfunding platform. He has also collaborated with Autodesk, the National Film Board of Canada, Arup, and Synbiota to tell playful stories about the future. In 2012 Trevor founded The Mission Business, a design firm that brings scenarios about the future to life as interactive live experiences. Award-winning projects include Visitations – a 21st century ghost story set in Toronto’s Drake Hotel, ZED.TO: ByoLogyc – a 9-month simulation of the outbreak of a synthetic pandemic in Toronto; and Shadowfall – a multimedia adventure into the future of asteroid mining, artificial intelligence, and extraterrestrial life that launched the 2013 IDEAS conference at NASA Research Park. Trevor’s artwork has won acclaim and redrawn borders in digital storytelling, including the installation Painting The Myth: The Mystery of Tom Thomson, the interactive documentary New Media // New Trends, concert visualizations with Spiral Beach, and work as official photographer for Canada’s most innovative organizations. He migrates regularly across his home range of Southern Ontario with his wife and son.
MARK HARRIS (USA)
Mark Harris creates immersive and interactive work both online and off. Mark is a partner at Murmur, and is currently developing the immersive/interactive experience, CURRENT:GOOD with Epic Theater Ensemble.
LEE-SEAN HUANG (USA)
Lee-Sean Huang is the cofounder and creative director of Foossa. As a community-centered designer and social innovation strategist, he has devoted his career to fostering creative civic participation and building movements for the common good. He was previously the founding member of the design practice at Purpose, creative director of Meu Rio and a co-founder of Hepnova Multimedia. He has worked on five continents and has collaborated with organizations including the United Nations, Human Rights Watch, the SEIU, the Dalai Lama Center, the Brazil Foundation, the Packard Foundation, the Grammy Foundation, the Kigali Genocide Memorial, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Tenement Museum. Lee-Sean is a faculty member at the School of Visual Arts MFA Design for Social Innovation and has previously lectured and taught at the New School, New York University, Cornell Tech, the College of Staten Island, the University of California Los Angeles, and the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. He also teaches capoeira at the New York Capoeira Center and is a founding trustee and treasurer of the Awesome Foundation New York. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Government from Harvard and a master’s from the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU.
JAMIE KING (UK)
I am Director/Producer of the STEAL THIS FILM series (2006-2009), one of the most shared documentaries of all time. In 2010 I founded VODO (http://vodo.net), a cross-media content distribution platform dedicated to experimenting with free and adaptive pricing models. We brought The Yes Men Fix The World to 750,000 downloaders and raised $50,000 for them. We produced and distributed our own show, Pioneer One, to millions of downloaders and over $100,000 in donations. From 2011-2013 I was Media Evangelist at BitTorrent inc. Now I’m working on a new documentary project, Emergents (http://emergents.net.)
CLAIRE MARSHALL (AUS)
Claire is currently the Multi-platform Lead and Development Producer at production company The Feds in Sydney Australia. A talented creative her original concepts have have won international awards. Starting in children’s television she has directed tv shows for every major network and won awards for her cross-platform extensions. She was previously employed as the Senior Digital producer for Australia’s largest movie exhibitor when she worked with distributors and producers on how to use story extensions and social media to market their films to a new audience. She is also currently working with media anthropologist Ele Jansen on a design thinking / story telling board game.
MATTHEW C. MILLS (USA)
Matthew C. Mills is an Emmy & Webby Award-winning Director, Writer & Executive Producer. He founded Spacestation in 2007, a production company based in Brooklyn, New York. Matthew’s diverse range of credits have found him working in features, commercials, music, television and web series. Highlights include “MTV Unplugged,” “We Always Lie To Strangers” (SXSW 2013), “This Is A Show For Parents of Gay Kids,” “The World Series of Video Games” and “Fodder,” a sketch comedy show. Clients and partners include HBO, PBS, MTV, CBS, Nickelodeon, Food Network, Cooking Channel, Young & Rubicam, Razorfish, Wunderman, VML, Ulive Family, Turner Broadcasting and more. Matthew is constantly searching for new stories and new outlets to tell them. He has a theater education and has helped produce storytelling or moderated discussions at the True/False Film Festival, the Consumer Electronics Showcase and SXSW. Currently, Matthew is in production on “Steve Keene Art Film,” a documentary about the prolific painter.
ROSIE POEBRIGHT (UK)
Rosie is Founder and Chief Creative at playful agency Splash & Ripple ‘Architects of Extraordinary Adventures’. Her work is guided by a simple mission: to make beautiful, genuinely moving experiences that put the participants at the centre of the action. To do this she uses an eclectic and varied mix of tools – most importantly theatre, game design, and digital technology; but also parcel tags, soundscapes and time-radios. Whatever it takes to create a moment that genuinely affects people. At Splash & Ripple she works across live events in the form of multi-location theatrical street games and long term installed adventures in medieval castles, museums and heritage sites. An academic grounding in Psychology and Anthropology informs and reflects Rosie’s people-centric work. Rosie has designed real world games and playful happenings since 2007. She’s made award winning street games for Hide & Seek and Igfest in the UK, and learned the fundamentals of her craft working for Slingshot where she was writer and Director of their citywide zombie chase game 2.8 hours later. Rosie is a resident artist at the Pervasive Media studio at the Watershed in Bristol UK, where she is an alumnus of the REACT academic sandbox programme. In 2014 she was an artist in the British Council’s international Playable City programme, which brought together artists from the UK and Brazil to develop work that responded to the theme of Playable City.
STEVE LA RUE (USA)
I have worked and lived in The World of Story for 20 years spending much of that time as a Television Development Executive championing such series as Buffy The Vampire Slayer, The X-Files and The Simpsons, to name a few. Additionally, I am a Writer/Performer having been featured in numerous revues with The Groundlings, LA’s premiere improvisational comedy troupe. Most recently, however, I wrote a weekly newspaper column for the last three years, Notes From Groundhog Hill, a humor-based account of a Prodigal Son’s return to his hometown in rural Kentucky. Currently, I am a featured Storyteller at Pinata, one of the longest running Personal Essay Shows in Hollywood. I am an Observer by nature, a Reporter, a Journalist, a Writer, an Editor, a Storyteller. Last Fall, I guest-lectured at the 2014 London Screenwriters Festival and encouraged 800 writers to ignore industry trends and to write their most personal stories instead.
MARC RUPPEL (USA)
I am a Senior Program Officer with the National Endowment for the Humanities Division of Public Programs. I hold a Ph.D in Textual and Digital Studies and Narrative Design from the University of Maryland College Park, and have previously worked on several experiential transmedia learning projects. I’ve published and lectured widely on the subject of transmedia storytelling and learning in books, edited collections, journals and online. I helped design and launch federal programs funding digital and transmedia projects in the humanities, and my current work explores the intersections between fictional and non-fictional content in experiential design.
FAN SISSOKO (UK, FR)
I am a service designer based in London. I am passionate about listening, inclusiveness, and identity. I work at the Innovation Unit, a social enterprise aiming to transform the public sector in the UK, from schools to employment services, and from hospitals to support for families with complex needs. I lead design research, participatory multimedia storytelling, and community engagement projects. My mission is to empower people who use public services to voice their stories and ideas, and to enable policy-makers to listen and design with them, rather than for them. I also founded the Brixton People’s Kitchen, an organisation aiming at reducing food waste, encouraging community interactions, and growing people’s creative confidence through cooking. As an introvert, one of my biggest achievements is to have enjoyed sharing the story of the project with more than 500 people at Tedx Brixton 2013. My background is in communications design. I studied Typography in Paris, before moving to Dublin to join a BA in Visual Communications at the NCAD. I later completed a MA in Sustainable Design at Kingston University. Before joining the Innovation Unit, I worked for communications agency Persuasion Republic in Dublin, and social innovation agency Thinkpublic in London. On days off, I can be found sketching in cafés, taking photographs, or connecting with the griot storytelling tradition of my Malian roots by learning the kora.
SIMON STAFFANS (FIN)
Simon Staffans is a content developer, media strategist, writer and speaker working across all media, and passionately interested in how the art of telling stories is changing. Starting out in radio in the 80s, through newspaper journalism, television and research into lesser-used languages in the 90s, he worked for eight years at the Finnish Broadcasting Company as an editor, show host, producer and regional director. In 2005 he moved to MediaCity Finland, a part of the Åbo Akademi University, charged with developing cross- and transmedia concepts for production and UX-research. “The Space Trainees” was nominated for an Emmy in 2010 and won an International E-Learning Award the same year. “The Mill Sessions” (2011) featured a uniquely developed financing model and millions of YouTube views. “The Energy Ambassador” in 2013 combined transmedia storytelling methods with corporate storytelling for a number of multi-billion companies in the energy sector. He has held workshops and talks in a number of territories, is a published writer and is an appointed expert for the EU:s EACEA and Horizon 2020 programmes. Simon is right now in the process of finishing the pilot for “#thebuildup”, a concept stretching the borders of engagement and entertainment.
RUTH TAUBER (UK, SCT)
I am a writer, adventurer and filmmaker based in the Highlands of Scotland. My work is underwritten by a fascination with the creative process. I was raised in a sculptor’s studio, have worked in fine art, dance and now literature. My writing stems from an ambition to tell stories. I studied Scottish Literature and now work for a literature organisation; I am interested in the connecting lines between the past and the present in writing. In 2008 I travelled to Seville on a Peter Kirk Travel Scholarship consisting of 3 months research on the elusive subject of duende. I speak Spanish and Swedish and learn about new cultures through language, exploration and interaction. I am drawn to wild places, where nature’s voice shouts louder than that of humans. In these places I seek the history, from the formation of the landscape through to that of that of the humans who have inhabited it. In 2013, following 25 day rafting expedition through the Grand Canyon, I begun writing my first full length book. The book is an exploration of the intimate corners of a vast and well known landscape, it is a story of escape from technology in the 21st century and what it means to be in the company of only the elements and some strangers over the course of a journey. As in my life, in this book, threads from many places intertwine to form the story.
KEN EKLUND (USA)
I’m a game and experience designer, and I create authentic fiction, “immersive stories that want to write themselves.” I focus on socially relevant games, “what if?” stories exploring real-world issues through collaborative play. It’s a good day if in these games people immerse themselves in exploring the future and have fun collaborating democratically on positive solutions and action. I’m known for creating WORLD WITHOUT OIL, the groundbreaking collective imagining of our next oil shock, and GISKIN ANOMALY, the cellphone adventure for the museums in Balboa Park, San Diego. I’ve also created ZOROP, which explored world peace by connecting strangers, and prototyped its successor, IN HORAS PERDITAM, with Annette Mees of Coney, and partnered with TPT (Twin Cities Public Television) and AIR on ED ZED OMEGA, exploring education reform with the Zed Omegas (teen school walkouts). In early 2014, I created FUTURECOAST, exploring climate change through voicemails leaked from possible futures, with Sara Thacher as producer, in partnership with the PoLAR group at Columbia University. I ran RUINATION: CITY OF DUST, an urban game about deepening community stewardship of water resources, in fall 2014 with Northern Lights, an arts group in Minneapolis. I started as a storyteller, but now I am a storymaker. We Occupy story. www.WriterGuy.com
CHRISTY DENA (AUS)
Christy Dena is a writer-designer-director who has worked on award-winning pervasive games, film, digital and theatre projects. Her comedy web audio adventure “AUTHENTIC IN ALL CAPS” won the “Digital Narrative” category at the 2-14 WA Premier’s Book Awards, won the “Interactive Media” category at the 2014 Australian Writer’s Guild Awards, and was Finalist for “Best Writing in a Game” Award at the 2012 Freeplay Independent Gaming Festival. She was commissioned to create an game installation for Experimenta’s 2015 International Biennial of Media Art: Recharge. That game, “Magister Ludi” is currently touring Australia and can be played online. She was granted Australia’s first Digital Writing Residency at The Cube for her project “Robot University,” for the Australia Council for the Arts and QUT. Christy co-wrote “The Writers Guide to Making a Digital Living” for the Australian Literature Board, has a PhD in Transmedia Practice, presented and published worldwide, and is a Member of the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Christy is Senior Lecturer in Games, and National Coordinator of Industry Skills at SAE Creative Media Institute, Brisbane.
LANCE WEILER (USA)
Lance Weiler is a storyteller and entrepreneur. An alumnus of the Sundance Screenwriting Lab, he is recognized as a pioneer because of the way he mixes storytelling and technology. WIRED magazine named him “one of 25 people helping to re-invent entertainment and change the face of Hollywood.” Always interested in experimenting with new ways to tell stories and engage audiences, Lance has designed experiences that have reached millions of people via theaters, mobile devices and online. In recognition of these storytelling innovations, BUSINESSWEEK named Lance “One of the 18 Who Changed Hollywood.” Lance is recognized as a thought leader in the entertainment space. He sits on a World Economic Forum steering committee for the future of content creation and is a founding member and director of the Columbia University School of the Arts’ Digital Storytelling Lab. He is also a Professor in Practice at the Columbia University School of the Arts. Lance is currently developing a slate of film, tv and gaming projects.
JULIA PONTECORVO (USA)
Julia Pontecorvo is a creative producer enthusiastic about good storytelling and the business of connecting those stories with audiences. With rich experience working with writers, directors, programmers, and designers across all media, her projects reflect a deep passion for the art of crafting and communicating narratives in an age of distraction. She started her career working in independent film distribution before moving over to the digital agency, R/GA. More recently, as a producer at Radical Media, she developed and produced a wide range of projects from the award-winning THNKR YouTube channel, to branded web content for Vogue, to the live-streamed concert series Amex UNSTAGED for American Express. Currently she is working on a television pilot loosely inspired by the popular Serial podcast. When she’s not trying to create quality story-driven media, she’s slogging away at a Master’s Program in Media Studies at The New School.