Skip to main content

Fast Foreword: The Editor's Column, Fall 2012

By Tom White

Dear Readers,

The digital era that took flight in the mid-1990s has continued to soar at supersonic speed, and we at Documentary have striven to take stock of each fleeting chapter and gauge its impact on the documentary community and documentary filmmaking. And now we find ourselves in Web 3.0, where gaming, transmedia and HTML5 lead us on this journey to the future of nonfiction storytelling.

It is, perhaps, ironic that we devote a print issue—a quarterly print issue at that—to the digital future. While the content of this issue will find its way to our website, there is something to be said about taking the long view on a specific theme, from different angles, in a self-contained analog unit that we can pass around among our friends and colleagues, in that time-honored, analog activity known as human interaction. Not that social media doesn't serve that function, but still...

We have covered DIY distribution over the years, as well as the byzantine catacombs of video-on-demand. Valentina Valentini breaks down the many permutations of VOD and speaks to some key stakeholders about the economics thereof. In concert with the potential online revenue streams for documentary, new platforms continue to proliferate for docmakers to promote their work. IDA's own Katharine Relth talks with executives from four rising stars—Sparkwise, Slated, Tugg and reddit—about how their sites can help films find their audiences and their funders. Speaking of funding, Kickstarter and IndieGogo have dominated the crowdfunding market over the past few years. Michael Galinsky, who wrote a piece for us about his successful Kickstarter campaign in the early days of that site, returns here to check in with other filmmakers about what they've learned from their crowdfunding experiences.

One significant growth area on the Internet has been Web series, which the ubiquitous Morgan Spurlock first developed a dozen years ago. Amanda Lin Costa speaks with Spurlock, Ondi Timoner and a host of other artists who are blazing trails in this exciting sub-genre. Another artistic tool that's leapt to the forefront has been HTML5, a Web-native video platform that enables filmmakers to expand the dimensions and storytelling possibilities of their work. Living Docs is one such initiative that a consortium led by Mozilla, Tribeca Institute, ITVS, Bay Area Video Coalition and the Center for Social Media has set into motion, with various hackathons and new treatments of such films as Steve James' The Interrupters and Amir Bar-Lev's The Tillman Story. Laura Almo talks with some of the creative minds behind this initiative. Gaming and transmedia have rapidly gained prominence as transformative platforms in the docmaking field. Scott Bayer attended this year's Games for Change conference, which showcased such upcoming endeavors as Half the Sky, and he reports on what's on the horizon for this brave new world of mediamaking.

Yours in actuality,

Thomas White