Putting Some Color Into (Trans)Media: The Current State of Diversity

Charles wanted to be Jon Favreau from Swingers, still doesOne of the main reasons I got into the business of film wasn't to make money or be famous, it was because me and friends saw films like Swingers and Clerks, loved them, quoted them often, and desired to see versions of those films that featured versions of us. It was my friends who pushed me to be a screenwriter, a dream that's either on hiatus or become a what-might-have-been, of which I'm not sure. Fifteen years later, as someone who is always curious about the culture and business of film, loves writing for this here digital rag, and as someone who works at a film festival, I've been trying to wrap my head around the current New Media/Transmedia conversation. As I've been exploring, reading and chatting, the part of me that wanted/wants to see films that include folks like me keeps peeking up time to time and can only marvel at how more alike, than dissimilar, in otherwords how monochromatic, those who are driving the New Media/Transmedia conversation are. More distressing, is how monochromatic those who seem to be participating are.

It's not like folks like Henry Jenkins or Brian Newman have avoided the question of diversity. Newman himself has sat on panels and asked why are there so many White guys. Jenkins has pointed out that non-white students create a whole hell of a lot of what we would call New Media content.

However, honestly, it's not Jenkins or Newman, or any of those other cats I'm looking at to lead the charge. No, I want to know, where are my fellow 37 year-old folks of color? Where are the guys and gals I remember seeing Love Jones on opening night with, who 13 years ago said "finally" under their breath, and 13 years later are now asking "what happened?"

I've started doing some preliminary searching, and I can't find a damn thing from anyone that seems to dissect this new frontier from the perspective of being Black, Latino, Asian, etc. One of the most interesting and empowering storytelling revolutions is developing around us, and unless I'm blind, stupid and forgot how to do a basic keyword search in Google, we seem to be sitting on the sidelines, contributing silence and indifference.

So am I missing those folks who are doing the interesting work? If so, please point them out to me. Because this conversation extends beyond just People of Color. As someone who proudly calls themselves a Southerner, who revels in films that explore different times, different eras and different questions, I'm dying to see more stories spring forth from unlikely sources.

Transmedia: Interview with Brooke Thompson about ARGFest Conference and Game Festival 2010

A Clue from THE DARK KNIGHT's Why So Serious? Coming to Atlanta July 15-18 is the 9th edition of ARGFest, a conference and gaming festival that’s all about Alternate Reality Gaming (ARG) and Transmedia Storytelling. If you think you haven’t heard of, or participated in an ARG, who’d be wrong if you followed on any level of The Dark Knight's Why So Serious, Halo 2’s I Love Bees, The Blair Witch Project’s pioneering experience or the dozens of ARG’s that have been developed over the last ten years.

With the rise of social media, more dynamic and interactive websites, and mobile devices such as the iPhone and iPad, ARGs and Transmedia Storytelling have become one of the hottest topics of discussion over the last two years.

In my role as ATLFF Communications Director, I sat down with 2010 ARGFest Chairperson Brooke Thompson to talk* about this year’s fest and the past, present and future of Transmedia Storytelling and Alternate Reality Gaming.

Show notes below:

ARGFest 2010

Transmedia Storytelling: In Transmedia storytelling, content becomes invasive and permeates fully the audience’s lifestyle. A transmedia project develops storytelling across multiple forms of media in order to have different “entry points” in the story; entry-points with a unique and independent lifespan but with a definite role in the big narrative scheme. - From Wikipedia

Alternate Reality Game: From An alternate reality game (ARG) is an interactive narrative that uses the real world as a platform, often involving multiple media and game elements, to tell a story that may be affected by participants’ ideas or actions. - From Wikipedia


Perplex City


*Sorry about the background noise. With the festival so close to the recording date, we didn’t have time to setup a better place to do the podcast.

PushPush To Produce Stage-to-Screen Comedy Series

PushPush TheaterPushPush Theater has always been engaged in some interesting projects since their inception. There are few multimedia arts organizations in Atlanta who are as actively experimenting with the integration of film and theater, as well as other mediums, as the Decatur based outfit. For awhile, their Dailies projects--a series of mostly quarterly film challenges that were screened for audiences--were a vital part of the Atlanta film scene and helped spawn locally produced The Signal as well as several dozen film groups and productions. Now PushPush  has announced that they're doing a stage-to-screen comedy series that will go to the web. Coming a few weeks after they just had Brian Newman in town to talk about new media and new models for filmmakers, it's even less of a surprising announcement. Newman has been traveling the world over lecturing about the changing media landscape and how it not only affects filmmakers and content creators, but how it can empower them.

PushPush has always been about applying what they've learned to create new works and new experiences. It will be interesting to see how this new series comes to fruition and what the result will be. This is one we'll definitely have to do more followup on. Press Release is below:



PushPush Produces Original Stage-to-Screen Comedy Series New Series Performed Live in Preparation for Filming and Digital Broadcast

July 6, 2010 - ATLANTA, GA - This fall, PushPush will begin a new and unique project, Slow Down Atlanta, an original episodic series about a group of out-of-work stooges who've started their own paranormal services company. PushPush will stage the first episodes of the series live before beginning to film the episodes for digital broadcasting and distribution. Utilizing some of Atlanta's top talent in film, theater and improv, the first episodes will be presented to live audiences in August, with the first online broadcast set for the end of 2010. This series will pave the way for a new international project aimed at filming in Berlin and Atlanta.

According to PushPush founding member and Managing Artistic Director, Shelby Hofer, staging the work before filming introduces a new process for long-term craft and content development, which reduces film production time. She explains, "The serial aspect itself, along with the live staging, allows the characters and story line to develop into a richer experience over time."  Hofer continues, "The added element of a live audience can improve the content before the cameras ever start rolling.  It also provides the creative team with an outlet for the gritty groundwork that will develop over a longer period of time."

The title Slow Down Atlanta originates from the notion that dealing with our personal ghosts, both literal and figurative, sometimes slows forward progress. The Slow Down series has a unique blend of modern office comedy and creepy, genre-based mystery show. The themes range from internet gaming and marriage to immigrant culture, the new racism, strippers, and good-old-fashioned homophobia. The plot begins as two 30-year-old friends rent an old office, hire a secretary and start a paranormal services business for beer money.

The launch of Slow Down Atlanta marks the start of PushPush's new entrepreneurial phase, where the company will implement new methods, including transmedial marketing, to monetize results of their new development projects. PushPush, in its role as a hub for artistic development, works to create projects that enable Atlanta theater and film artists to connect, explore and refine their craft, create original works, and provide equal effort toward improving revenue while doing it.

PushPush achieved success with its film and theater hybrids, such as The Robbers, Cats Have Nine Lives, The Seagull, and Intersection of Dreams. The launch of Slow Down is part of a 5-year-plan to present two types of serials, including a multi-cultural project entitled GRFX.

PushPush will hold open workshops on Monday evenings in July for actors, directors and other film or theater artists interested in getting involved.

For more details on Slow Down Atlanta, PushPush, or their new phase of development, contact Shelby Hofer.