Culture Hacker

My Culture Hacker column is extending beyond print. Earlier today, Filmmaker Magazine launched an online extended version of the column. I’ll be covering emerging tech, trends, policy issues and interesting projects at the intersection of technology and storytelling. If you’re working on a new app, immersive storytelling or gaming project I’d love to hear about it. Or if you’ve come across something interesting please let me know. You can contact me here.

For the kick off, I posted about my recent Twine unboxing. You can read it here.


It’s All About Story

The Summer issue of Filmmaker Mag is now on newsstands. For my Culture Hacker column I look at how transmedia can be used for R&D around stories.

Filmmaker Mag summer 2010

It’s tempting to get distracted. It happens to filmmakers all the time. Concern over gear, building audiences, developing social media strategies, new tools, new services. The promise of transmedia (the ability for a story to live beyond a single screen, device or medium) offers such rich storytelling potential. But for some it will become yet another distraction. Case in point: After a recent speaking engagement I was approached by a group of filmmakers. Some were trying to figure out the value of transmedia while others said with a sense of pride that they’d designed the perfect transmedia experience, as if it was something to check off a list. There was the Web component, a mobile series, a game and an app, not to mention an assortment of social media accounts thrown into the mix. It was if by adding more to their project they’d be guaranteed an audience in a media-saturated world.

Now don’t get me a wrong, I’m a strong proponent of filmmakers embracing emerging creative opportunities. But when I posed a simple question asking what the filmmakers with the perfect transmedia strategy were trying to say there was a moment of pause. I wasn’t asking about the plot or characters. I was looking for the passion behind the project. What was it that the filmmakers needed to say? What was their story really about? Interestingly, that simple question became paralyzing.

I’ve been there. I’m guilty of it. After all, most films are underdeveloped. It’s easy to fold to the pressure of what seems like a limited window of opportunity. The gut-wrenching feeling of “it’s either now or never!” But after finishing my last project I made a promise to myself that I would let the next one grow organically. By doing so I discovered that I could use transmedia as a way to develop the stories I wished to tell.

Transmedia is so much more than marketing and promotion. Of course, transmedia can benefit a project during a release or before, when a filmmaker attempts to build an audience. It also has value with regards to how a project can be funded and packaged. But let’s put that aside for a moment and focus on the creative side.

Read More

For those in Europe who are interested in how storytelling is evolving, I’ll be part of a three day workshop called Transmedia Next which takes place in London Sept. 8,9,10. It’s a comprehensive look at how to fund, design, produce and distribute transmedia projects. Space is limited for more info visit

This Decade is About the Filter

More than a decade ago it was “search” that was driving innovation and large investments in both infrastructure and talent. When Google first started indexing unique URLs in 1998 there were already 26 million. Two years later the amount of indexed pages had crossed the billion mark. Flash forward to this winter and the amount of unique URLs exceeds 1 trillion.

We are swimming in a sea of data. On average Americans wade through 34 gigs of information a day according to a recent report by researchers at the University of California, San Diego. The ability to “filter” this information will drive future innovation. How people are posting, commenting and clicking will greatly impact the ways films are created, curated and shared over the next decade.

The desire to tap into social data is evident in recent deals that have Google, Microsoft and Yahoo lining up to access Twitter’s feed in an effort to improve their own traditional search results. The fact that three leaders in search are interested in something as small as 140 characters of information points to the value of social streams. From breaking news instantly, in many cases before traditional outlets, the power of word of mouth threatens to devalue massive ad spends by the studios; the ability of people to connect and communicate in real time through handheld devices is challenging many established industries while at the same time enabling a new form of social curation.



The Winter issue of Filmmaker Mag is on newsstands now. If you’re interested in checking out the newest Culture Hacker column it’s now live on the Filmmaker site. In the current column I spend some time with a number entrepreneurs who are bootstrapping some interesting startups.


It has been said that amazing things come out of difficult times. The recession of the late ’70s saw the birth of Apple and Microsoft. One can only wonder what innovation is going on today in garages, studio apartments and basements across the country.

I’ve often found it surprising that filmmakers spend years developing a film only to watch it die soon after it reaches the world. I’m sick of hearing the terms “creative,” “artist,” or even the phrase “I just want to make films,” as if uttering the expression excuses the lack of interest in the business aspect of our craft.

At the end of the day filmmakers are entrepreneurs. Independent filmmaking is very similar to bootstrapping a startup — long hours, little to no pay and big dreams. But are filmmakers so focused on a single film that they are missing larger opportunities to tell the stories they wish to make? Over the course of the last few months I’ve reached out to a number of interesting entrepreneurs in an effort to better understand what it takes to birth a company in today’s difficult economic times. In the process I came across some insight, which I think can be beneficial to filmmakers. READ MORE

New Culture Hacker column

The Winter issue of Filmmaker Magazine hits newsstands this week. For my Culture Hacker column I spent some time with a number of entrepreneurs who are bootstrapping startups. MakerBot Industries, Loveland and NeighborGoods all share what it takes to get a company off the ground in difficult economic times. I was struck by the many parallels between entrepreneurs and independent filmmakers.