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DocGeeks » Get it made » Documentaries go interactive; explore new opportunities at i-Docs 2012

Documentaries go interactive; explore new opportunities at i-Docs 2012

The world is changing and so is the way we interact with films. Increasingly audiences want to do more than just ‘watch'; they want to participate. Held in Bristol over two days in March, i-Docs is the first symposium in the UK totally dedicated to the interactive documentary genre. Find out how you can use digital interactive technology to get more out of your film.

In the last twelve months we have seen various interactive documentaries being praised in the general media. Two high profile ones were One Millionth Tower and Bear 71, which premiered at Sundance in January of this year. What makes them different, and therefore interesting, is the audience experience and interaction.

From an idyllic point of view one can say that passive becomes active, active means interest, interest means possible (social) change. This idea is also shared by Sandra Gaudenzi who teaches at the MA Interactive Media of the London College of Media and does a part-time PhD on Interactive Documentaries at Goldsmiths University (a fact alone that highlights the growth of the market).

In a recent article titled The i-docs’ “evolution”, in just 10 points Gaudenzi sets out various reasons why filmmakers do good to aquint themselves with interactive documentaries. She mentions new technologies, platforms, learning opportunities but also a growing societal unrest – which paves the way for possible success. People want to do something.

Any project that starts with an intention to document the ‘real’ and that does so by using digital interactive technology can be considered an i-doc.

Together with Judith Aston, Gaudenzi is also instrumental in setting up the i-Docs Symposium, the first symposium totally dedicated to the interactive documentary genre and, we would say, a must for filmmakers interested in creating an interactive documentary themselves.

One of the people speaking at the event this year is Katerina Cizek, the Emmy-winning filmmaker who is responsible for making the interactive documentaries One Millionth Tower (2011) and Out My Window (2010).

In an earlier interview with DocGeeks, Cizek gave us the best and most straightforward reason so far for going interactive, she said: “For me, documentaries are concerned with our contemporary worlds, and digital tools are a part of this world. They are changing the way we think about most of our lives: political, economic, social, psychological and cultural. Why just document this when we can use these tools to experiment and attempt to understand these profound changes?” 

i-Docs is held at the Watershed Media Centre in Bristol on 22 and 23 March. If you like to find out more you can have a look at what was discussed last year at i-Docs 2011. According to the programme this year the event will be even bigger and longer with a mixture of presentations, viewings and workshops around all aspects of i-docs production and distribution. For the full i-Docs 2012 programme click here.


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Alexandra Zeevalkink is a Dutch-born journalist living in London who founded DocGeeks in August 2011 in order to have a legitimate excuse to watch every documentary under the sun. She freelances for various publications and writes mainly about documentaries and the film production industry. When she is not blogging or watching films, she enjoys theater, photography and reading loads of books. She is always on the look out for potential partnerships with other creative minds.

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