The Theme

The Documentary Form invites us to connect, to belong, and to learn. It is steeped in a history of artists, filmmakers and producers inventing new ways of sharing stories. 

Future Documentary Sandbox will ask how can we hold on to what is great about documentary - its ability to elicit empathy, impart wisdom and inspire change - whilst exploring the new forms that are enabled by the internet, mobile phones and changing audience behaviours.

The web produces documentary material in wild profusion through video, audio, blogging, data. The challenge is to make sense of it: to understand how new ways of participation and collaboration online might influence editorial control, trust and authenticity. To explore how techniques of data mining might produce information that can to be turned into stories.

Audiences are changing as people choose to watch media and engage with interactive content on their laptops, tablets and mobile devices… In May 2012, Channel Four’sFoxes Livetracked nine foxes through the streets of Manchester, recording their direction, speed, body temperature and activity levels. The live interactive map gained more web viewers than a Big Brother eviction.

There are many challenges in this arena; authorship, aesthetics and design are all new questions for those working with interactivity and collaborative feedback. Schedulers need to understand how the dynamics of these new forms will work in family or group situations. Technologists and hardware providers need to understand user behaviours to design appropriate hardware for the future. Today’s independent documentary filmmakers face the task of finding audiences and investment where new forms of collaboration and competition are equally intense. The documentary form needs to understand how to invest in the new kinds of knowledge and engagement that become possible when video can also pull in live content from Twitter, Wikis, Blogs, and Flickr.

  • A Future Documentary Sandbox project might be interactive or responsive to the environment that people engaging with it are in.
  • It might harness games mechanics to help people ‘discover’ content.
  • It might use second screen technologies or create new experiences with pervasive and locative media.
  • It might combine new ways of navigating content with live data.
  • It might explore multiple points of view around citizen science, history or journalism.

Projects will be encouraged to explore new models of authorship, ownership or sharing.

Successful projects will engage users, explore new modes of interaction and be designed with multiple audience touch points in mind. We’re looking for inspiring, sustainable, future-facing, creative projects that capture the imagination. Have we captured yours?

Collaborations will be funded by the REACT Hub for a three-month period to develop an innovative prototype and explore its potential market/business model.