"Interrupt Violence" Hits Tribeca Film Festival

Last month, The Interrupters' interactive team — including Steve James, Anton Seals, and Andrew Suprenant — attended the 11th Tribeca Film Festival. Here's an update from Andrew:

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Along with ITVS, the Tribeca Film Institute is funding Interrupt Violence through its New Media Fund, which aims to explore “non-fiction, social issue media projects which go beyond traditional screens — integrating film with content across media platforms, from video games and mobile apps to social networks and interactive websites.” 

This interactive space is newer for Kartemquin, so we’ve been thrilled to develop the project with ITVS and TFI, as well as our development partners at Kounterattack Design in New York.  Our goal is to extend the impact ripples generated by the documentary and create tools where users can share their personal stories and also connect with partners and resources that can hopefully help staunch the steady tide of urban violence.

Our time at Tribeca was split into three parts: a weekend-long workshop with XO Labs, a brilliant public interactive day, and then a couple of days meeting industry partners and discussing further collaboration.

 

Workshop

Our time began at Meet at the Apartment, a funky and thoughtful workspace (think black and pink wallpaper with Banksy prints and libraries of design books) in Soho. We’ve been collaborating with other New Media grantees via Google Hangout for a few months now, so it was nice to be in the same space together.

The sessions were run by XO Labs, a creative consultancy from the UK who are steeped in the design process. Their crack staff helped our team hone our marketing and outreach plans while guiding us on communicating our goals, process, budgets, and timelines to potential partners. 

Audiences are important for documentary and narrative films, but user agency is critical to interactive projects (indeed, sections of Interrupt Violence won’t fully function without user-generated content), so we also spent a lot of time really thinking about core users, their needs, and how we might meet these through the website.

The workshop sessions were interspersed with presentations by industry leaders, including Dave Carroll, head of the Design & Technology program at Parsons School for Design, and Margaret Robertson, game developer at Hide & Seek.  Gaining knowledge and inspiration and then collaborating with these leaders was a remarkable experience.  And the catered food was very tasty!

Moving forward, I’m particularly excited to see these partner projects:

•   18 Days in Egypt

•   Afghan Lives

•   Dadaab Stories

•   Map Your World

•   The Tillman Story

 

Interactive Day

After jamming our skulls and notepads with plans, it was a treat to sit back, relax, and enjoy the TFI Interactive Day: The Future of Storytelling in a Digital Age at the beautiful Frank Gehry-designed IAC headquarters in Chelsea.     

The day was packed with speakers, case studies, and meeting all sorts of media makers working in the interactive space. A few personal favorites:

•   Baratunde Thurston of The Onion discussing the importance of retaining a critical view of the press while recounting hilarious stories of online and real-world subversion.

•   Clay Johnson discussing the need for an information diet, making a strong case that the websites we visit can impact our health as much as the food that we eat.

•   Loc Dao of National Film Board of Canada’s breathless review of the many interactive projects NFB — a true industry leader — has produced, including Bear 71.

•  A discussion of the creative marketing strategies used by HBO’S Game of Thrones, including food trucks, scent boxes, and even tattooing hardcore fans!

Read more about Interactive Day here.

 

Industry Meetings

We concluded the trip with two days of round-robin meetings with industry representatives, discussing opportunities to collaborate on Interrupt Violence or subsequent projects.  The positive regards held toward The Interrupters were pretty incredible, and being in a room with so many creative people exploring old and new ways of telling stories was inspiring.

Highlights included reconnecting with current partners at IDFA, ITVS, and Dogwoof while learning more about the interactive plans of the NEA, Black Public Media, and Sundance Institute.  It was a personal treat to meet staff from Participant Media, and finally meeting Ryan Harrington - TFI’s head of documentaries, who helped kick off the Interrupt Violence project - was a pleasure.

We also had breakfast with Robert De Niro and other festival heads. Raging Bull was instrumental in my high school decision to study filmmaking, so it was an honor being in the same room with the great actor and his colleagues.
 

Conclusion

Our week at Tribeca gave us a great opportunity to workshop and network around Interrupt Violence and will make its launch and outreach (beginning this July) much stronger. 

Kudos to the incredible XO Labs and TFI staff (including the essential Ingrid Kopp), who are sharp, tons of fun to be around, and even managed to produce surprise birthday cupcakes while juggling so many of the details that make a festival run smoothly.  This was Kartemquin’s first time formally attending the festival, and we certainly hope that it won’t be the last.

-- Andrew Suprenant.

 

Visit www.interruptviolence.com to see a beta version of the interactive site. Read more about our plans for the final completed version.

 

Andrew Suprenant lives and works in Chicago. He produced The Atom Smashers and the website for Ebert Presents At The Movies and is currently working with Kartemquin Films to create Interrupt Violence.