A year ago iDROPS and myself submitted a proposal to Creative Europe (Media Programme): we wanted to create a series of workshops designed to help professionals to develop their own interactive documentaries. We wanted to create something that would be more like an incubator than an inspirational seminar. Something very hands-on, where you are immersed in a multi-disciplinary environment so that your own project can evolve in new directions. We wanted a space where design, code and storytelling can interact with each other in order to create a new methodology of work. A sand-box where you feel free to experiment because you are supported and coached all the way, especially when you are outside of your comfort zone.
Well… I am proud to announce that !F Lab has now launched and that its first workshop (first of three in six months) will be held in Leuven (Belgium) from the 6th till the 9th of May. You can submit your projects till the 6th of April!
Yes, of course, there are other workshops around in this field. But most of them are just “inspirational” – you meet and listen to creatives showing you their work and doing presentations on “best practices”. The reality is that when it comes to make your own i-doc you really struggle to define your core purpose, your audience, your interface and your distribution and financial strategy. The truth is that each project is different and no one really knows how to do it yet. There is no standard process. We are in a new field with lots of enthusiastic “doers” but very few established methodologies of work. So… what about being frank about it? Instead of pretending that there are magic solutions applicable to us all, lets create a space of experimentation where each project can flourish.
!F Lab consists a series of three sandbox-labs designed to facilitate creatives in the production of their factual interactive stories. Lasting six months, !F LAB provides a safe space to incubate your ideas by exposing you to cutting edge workshops, inspirational talks, one to one project mentorship and technical assistance. The novelty is to have four dedicated coaches that can direct you in each part of your project. If you have an idea you want to produce and cannot do it by yourself, this is the place to be. Come with your team and you’ll progress even faster, !F Lab will help you to make best use of your cross disciplinary skills.
With !F Lab you will be exposed to new methodologies aimed at boosting each phase of your production: story ideation, prototyping, user testing, user experience, budgeting, interface design, coding, digital strategy, pitching and finance. You will progress by following a collaborative ethos, while learning about agile development and design thinking. User experience will be placed at the center of the storytelling creative process. This is a point we really want to emphasize: your story is not for you (you know it already!), it is for the people you want to reach. Learn to listen. Do it with them, not for them. Learn to test and put the user at the center of your creative process.
HOW DOES IT WORK:
– you apply with a project idea (hopefully involving your team members)
– you participate to up to 3 x 4 days workshops (in three different countries) – this is not compulsory, but really advisable!
– each workshop puts the emphasis on a different production phase (story, design & code)
– each workshop is attached to an inspirational digital conference (1.WebDox, Leuven; 2. The Conference, Malmo; 3. MozFest, London)
– workshops will consist on a mixture of inspirational talks, hands-on work on your own project, professional tutoring and user testing of your developments
– at each workshop you will have a designer, a coder and storyteller ready to assist you so that your project grows in a balanced way
– in between workshops you will be offered a mentorship scheme to keep the momentum going
– by the end of !F Lab, you will have a fully working prototype of your interactive project and a solid financial and marketing plan
!F Lab is where code meets storytelling.
It sits at the intersection between documentary, journalism, social communication and web design.
It aims at creating a new breed of creative technologists.
It is more than an inspirational one off event: it is a process sandbox.
It is designed to allow you to keep your job while at the same time work on your very own project.
I hope to see you very soon in Leuven!