(Watch the above video before reading on or at least the first few seconds.)
This topic of remix culture and storytelling has been dear to my heart since I wrote my masters on the subject but what concerns me now that I’ve been working in between film and interactive is that us internet kids don’t have the respect we should for the work that has come before us in our field. We’ll bite technology thanks to open-source software but technology is only half of the story, we still need the story, the narrative, the emotional connection.
In early days of cinema we had the same issue. When the moving picture camera was invented early filmmakers simply shot things that were moving. An oncoming train was super exciting because we hadn’t seen a moving image before projected on the screen. This was a crazy new technology but there was no story there. The auteurs that really moved filmmaking forward are the ones that understood the technology and the storytelling. Or should I say they borrowed both technology and story. Star Wars is such a simple classic story that was borrowed from hundreds of works before it but it applied new technology with a universal story and the rest is cinema history. Godard borrowed all his story from Hollywood but shot in a totally different style given the technology that he had access to. This made him the genius auteur that he is, among other things.
So as internet kids now making stories, for the web, for the mobile, for media projections, how can we stand on the shoulder of these giants? We can tell simple universal stories with our new technology. We can’t keep just experimenting with the technology. Technology is moving so quickly that we could spend our whole life experimenting, testing, optimizing. We have to jump in and use what we have or invent the technology to tell our story.
But again the story has to be simple and well told. My beef with “transmedia” storytelling is that the story and the technology are both so deep and complicated. There are multiple characters, over multiple universes, over multiple platforms, spanning four generations and 18 countries using five different types of media. I’m lost before I even begin. Remember Star Wars. Simple story, ground breaking technology.
When I watch Everything is a Remix I see how our modern filmmakers were students of cinema and were humble enough to know that they needed to borrow from the filmmakers before them. In our wild west interactive technology landscape I see too much arrogance that we are pioneers inventing everything from scratch. This arrogance will only slow down our gestation. Let’s learn from previous storytellers who use technology to tell our stories with our technology.