TFI Sandbox

Adventures In Storytelling, Technology and Social Change.

Bringing storytelling, technology and design together to innovate in the field, inspire audiences and create impact.

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The past couple of years have been a particularly exciting time for us at the Tribeca Film Institute.

We started to work with the Ford Foundation on the TFI New Media Fund and discovered how so many creative opportunities opened up in this new, interactive space. It felt like we were discovering a new digitaltoolbox along with the artists we support. This Sandbox is a first step in sharing with you the projects we have supported and the things we have learned along the way.

Ingrid Kopp, Director Digital Initiatives, Tribeca Film Institute - @fromthehip

There is a huge range of work in the field of transmedia and we wanted to reflect on the range of possibilities by talking to two experts who approach their work in very different ways.

Jeff Gomez is CEO of Starlight Runner Entertainment. He is an expert at transmedia storytelling, incubating new entertainment properties, strategic planning and production for cross-platform implementation. Lina Srivastava looks at how transmedia can be part of an activism framework that highlights local voice. She is focused on employing strategy, planning, engagement and transmedia design to create and demonstrate social impact.

Jeff Gomez

Starlight Runner Entertainment

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Lina Srivastava

Lina Srivastava Consulting

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For Creatives - Funding, Festivals & Tools

Funding Opportunities

Festival, Market & Lab Opportunities

Tools & Inspiration

  • Tribeca Future of Film

    Blog covering film, technology and the future of media
  • Moments of Innovation: When Documentary and Technology Converge

    History of interactive documentary from MIT's Open Documentary Lab and IDFA's DocLab
  • MIT Open Documentary Lab

    The OpenDocLab brings technologists, storytellers, and scholars together to advance the new arts of documentary
  • Zeega

    Zeega is an open-source HTML5 platform for creating interactive documentaries and inventing new forms of storytelling
  • Mozilla PopcornMaker

    Making it easy to enhance, remix and share web video
  • Storyplanet

    Tool to create interactive projects
  • NFB Interactive

    Trailblazers in creating beautiful, interactive content
  • Storycode

    A NYC-based community hub and incubator for cross-platform storytellers and their projects
  • CollabDocs

    Looks at the intersection between documentary and networked culture
  • Deep Media

    Blog from Frank Rose, author of The Art of Immersion, covering narrative in the digital age
What We Fund.

Elaine McMillion


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Hank Willis Thomas

Question Bridge

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Marisa Jahn

New Day New Standard

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Other Initiatives.

About The Event

Together with XO Labs from the U.K., who were running a lab for the Tribeca Film Institute’s inaugural New Media Fund grantees, we put together TFI Interactive during the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival. This became a one-day event that brought together leading practitioners from the fields of media, entertainment, education and technology to share their insights.

The Digital Media Ecosystem

We were thinking about how our work with the Fund fits into the wider digital media ecosystem, and about what we can learn from people who are thinking hard about some of the same problems we are thinking about: how to bring filmmakers and technologists together to create new kinds of work; how to capture the attention of audiences in a highly media-saturated environment and truly engage them; how to innovate while still making sure that the story leads; and how to bring craft and skill to interactive storytelling, building new kinds of experiences that are rich, immersive and compelling.

Bear 71: Interactive Storytelling

An interactive case study of the National Film of Board Canada’s Bear 71 from one of the creators of this online experience. The project blurs the line between the wilderness and the wired through an exciting and innovative approach to exploring the story of the grizzly known as Bear 71.

Speaker: Loc Dao, Executive Producer and Creative Technologist at the National Film Board of Canada
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Take your Digital Ideas to the Bank

So you have the idea, can find your audience and know you want to make it happen, but you don't have a spare million in the bank? This panel takes three leading funds that are pioneering funding interactive content, giving you an insight into what they are funding, why, and, most crucially, what they are looking for.

Speakers: Karim Ahmad, Senior Programming Manager at ITVS; Orlando Bagwell, Director of JustFilms Initiatives at The Ford Foundation; Alyce Myatt, Director for Media Arts at the National Endowment for the Arts; Ingrid Kopp, Director of Digital Initiatives at Tribeca Film Institute
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Putting Play in Place: Games and Storytelling

We all want to engage with the story but what mechanisms can we use to do it? How can we play with what is presented to us? And who is creating play that is fun, engaging, part of the story world and in multiple places (both digital and physical). This panel brings together social impact, gaming and the story into one melting pot of creativity and fun.

Speakers: Michelle Byrd, Co-President at Games for Change; Nick Fortugno, Co-Founder/COO at Playmatics; Margaret Robertson, Managing Director at Hide & Seek; Jamin Warren, Co-founder at Killscreen
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Working At Tribeca Hacks

The Tribeca Film Institute is holding a series of national hackathon/workshop events designed to increase understanding and broaden participation in the field of interactive storytelling.

These workshops give creative media artists the insight and skills to create robust interactive projects that effectively engage with audiences and the chance to experiment with new tools and technologies. They also showcase innovation in this field for artists, funders and the public. A primary goal of the workshops is to build new relationships between media artists, technologists and designers.

Tribeca Hacks <Cambridge>

The first Tribeca Hacks workshop was held in Cambridge in collaboration with Zeega, an open-source platform that came out of the idea that people should be able to make interactive stories on the internet without having to program. We don’t believe technical knowledge or budgets should be a constraint for exploring the creative possibilities of the web. Zeega’s team of journalists, documentary artists and interactive designers shared Zeega's latest tools and work with participants to create interactive experiences with original and web-based audio, photos, videos and text.

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Living Docs

What We Do

Living Docs is a partnership to reimagine storytelling. The Living Docs Project believe that the ethos of the web – collaboration, constant learning, and iteration — offers a fundamentally new way of producing documentary. We hold events, celebrate projects and share code to explore the unique possibilities that the web offers to documentary creators. The Living Docs partners are Tribeca Film Institute, Mozilla, BAVC, ITVS and the Center for Social Media at American University.

Living Docs require new skills, new teams, and new aesthetics. We support this emerging field in a number of ways:

Hack Days

We host hack days that pair developers with documentary filmmakers to rapidly prototype web documentaries. We believe that making things is a joy, and a necessary process to develop a common vocabulary between those who create the web and those who create documentaries.

Project Support

We follow and study projects that we’ve funded, supported, that use open technologies, or that we simply want more people to experience.

Documented Best Practices and Lessons

We want documentary makers sharing their experiences, their challenges and victories, and also their code. Our blog follows a cross-section of projects and the emerging field and create original content that celebrates the genre.

Code Sharing

The explosive growth of the web owes itself to the ability of others to “view source.” By seeing how the web is put together, we not only learn how to create original new work, but are given a shortcut to creating new work by building on that of our peers. We will help documentary producers do this, and to sort through the narrative and business implications that follow.

Production Funding

The doc world is changing as the role of broadcasters shift and audience’s attention is fractured. New methods of supporting the art of documentary must exist on the web if this fledgling genre is to thrive. We’ll offer a path to production financing that is grounded in sharing resources, so all documentary makers can take part in these efforts.

The Interrupters

The Interrupters

From producer/director Steve James and author-turned-producer Alex Kotlowitz, The Interrupters tells the moving and surprising story of three “violence interrupters” in Chicago who with bravado, humility and even humor try to protect their communities from the violence they once employed. The Interrupters received a 2012 Independent Spirit award for Best Documentary.

During the inaugural Living Docs Hack Day, The Interrupters team built a prototype of an interactive shrine sequence to memorialize victims of violence in Chicago. This working demo, built over two days, was the inspiration for the first phase of the ongoing “Interrupt Violence” campaign, with funding from the TFI New Media Fund.

Social Justice Media Impact Assessment Working Group

Tribeca Film Institute and the MIT Open Documentary Lab propose a collaboration designed to address the understudied links between participatory media production and social change.

We will focus on developing strategies for assessing the impact of open documentaries – both long-form documentary works linked to cross platform media campaigns and participatory/interactive/non-linear forms of non-fiction storytelling. Part of our strategy will be to work with grassroots social justice organizations who have on-the-ground access to communities and a wealth of experience assessing the impact of their efforts in relation to defined social justice goals. We seek to apply what these practitioners have learned to the fields of media impact assessment.

Over the course of a year, the partners will complete the following scope of work:

  • Literature review on social impact assessment of all media types
  • Initial 2-day convening of partners to set research agenda
  • Publish proceedings from convening
  • Formation of working group and list-serve
  • Monthly web meetings
  • Series of blogs
  • Best Practices

The Neighborhood School

Our first elementary school residency began fall 2012 at The Neighborhood School. Working with a mixed class of first and second graders, as well as a special education class of third and fourth graders, Tribeca Teaches has implemented its first film-and-new-media program in connection with classroom study. Students are exploring the concepts of community this fall through creating short films, learning basic HTML coding and creating online spaces where viewers can interact with the media they create.

Example: Students will create instructional videos on the “behind-the-scenes” of the film industry as a study in community. These short student-made films will live together on a student-designed website in order to promote peer-to-peer learning across elementary students within the school and beyond. Example: Using the school’s natural Lower East Side setting, students will create a series of mini-documentaries, interviewing community members and exploring the landscape of old/new LES. Students will learn basic coding to turn a photograph of a building into a “clickable” map, where windows lead the user into various video experiences.

Harlem Renaissance High School

Students at Harlem Renaissance High School, a transfer school designed to re-engage students who are behind in high school or have dropped out previously, in the 17-21 age bracket, are utilizing documentary and new media mediums to explore the traditional filmmaking process through new media in their Economics and Participation in Government classes. By canvassing the neighborhood, students will keep a journal throughout 40 days, modeled on the “40 days after the election” reporting, and translate their ideas across new media they currently engage with: notes become tweets, tweets become instagram or flickr photos, and these ideas are translated into a video piece that lives on Vimeo. Editing the final video footage and assembling it into a class-made new media website context, students will share both process and product, learning coding, design and film skills.

East River Academy at Rikers Island

Through a partnership with the city’s largest detention center and the Department of Education, Tribeca Teaches is poised to teach 20 incarcerated adolescent women the art of digital storytelling via online editing of reality TV programs. Working with teaching artists from NYC new media-based education organization, The Lamp, students will use media literacy skills to deconstruct and examine media, and subsequently respond, remix, recreate and talk back to television shows that target their viewership such as The Jersey Shore, Real Housewives of New York and Sixteen and Pregnant.