A Filmmaker’s Embrace of Nonlinear Storytelling

By Musa Syeed
Filmmaker, 30 Mosques

Musa Syeed is one of the hottest up and coming filmmaking talents in the U.S. His work includes documentaries such as A Son’s Sacrifice, Bronx Princess, and a narrative feature, Valley of Saints — which is currently on the festival circuit. He has also been experimenting with new, interactive forms of storytelling, and we asked him to write about his experiences for BTB.

For most of my life, I’ve been something of a technophobe. Maybe it was that I watched The Terminator at too young an age or perhaps it was my father’s insistence on the superiority of the microwave, but either way, an epic struggle with artificial intelligence and subsequent robot armageddon has long seemed to me not only possible but imminent.

And I felt that as a filmmaker, I had reason to fear technological advancements in the field. New media/interactive/transmedia was making a medium I revered as a child seemingly obsolete, banishing motion pictures from the majestic big screen to pathetic, paltry iPhones.
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New Partnership Reimagines Documentary Storytelling on the Web

By: Jonathan Archer

ITVS has partnered with Mozilla, the Tribeca Film Institute, BAVC, and the Center for Social Media to create the Living Docs Project — a new film community inspired by our original collaboration with Mozilla last October.

Launching Monday, the Living Docs Project brings together documentary filmmakers, developers, funders, and the audience to make the case for a new kind of storytelling on the web.

The web has given documentary filmmakers a powerful mechanism to distribute their films, but we have only scratched the surface of how it can change storytelling.  The Living Docs Project sees the web as a canvas on which new types of documentaries can be told.
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Announcing the Living Docs Project with Mozilla

ITVS and Mozilla have launched the Living Docs Project, a collaboration that supports independent producers to develop interactive documentaries.   

The ‘web documentary’ genre has matured and evolved greatly in recent years, thanks in large part to technological advances that empower creators with more robust production and storytelling tools (see examples here and here). This got the folks at ITVS and Mozilla’s Popcorn Project talking about how they could work together to explore the space between traditional documentary and the social web. 

Mozilla’s Popcorn project is an innovation lab that brings together filmmakers and developers to re-imagine and create interactive cinema online. The  innovation team develops demos and productions that spin off into software projects like Popcorn.js, a JavaScript library for HTML5 video. Mozilla’s commitment to building open web tools is an ideal compliment to ITVS’s ability to convene talented filmmakers and give them the opportunity to use the latest technology.
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