Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tribeca poses interactive challenge

Tribeca Film Festival’s recently announced filmmaker competition, Tribeca Interactive Interlude: A Music Film Challenge, is a call for entries that are something of a cross between music videos, videogames, and cinematic choose-your-own-adventure stories. Seeking to not only simply keep up with evolving technology, but to place itself in the midst of a growing movement that emphasizes collaborative storytelling on a populous scale (a movement that can claim actors Joseph Gordon-Levitt, with his hitRECord series, and Zach Braff, with his Kickstarter-funded film Wish I Was Here, as famous proponents), Tribeca has partnered with digital platform Genero.tv for this, its latest contest.

Using  a program called Treehouse hosted on the website Interlude.fm, participants are tasked with creating “an interactive music film” to one of three songs by either Ellie Goulding (“Dead in the Water”), Aloe Blacc (“Ticking Bomb”) or Damon Albarn (“Heavy Seas of Love”). What is an interactive film? A video that allows the viewer to choose which turn the story will take next. For example, one video on the Interlude website takes place at a crowded party. Our initial guide walks in wearing a pair of headphones, mingles a bit, and then encounters two partygoers. Whom will he pass the headphones to? You choose. The video then continues from the point of view of whichever character you have selected – until he or she encounters two more people, and you have to choose again. And so on.


There are a number of videos on the Interlude website from mega companies such as Disney and Madewell, and you can see the marketing appeal. The Madewell video’s narrative “choices” appear in the form of outfit options, and allow you to spend several minutes styling and dressing a pretty model in Madewell raiment while bouncy music plays in the background. Disney’s short film isn’t an interactive take on a commercial but rather a music video, in which viewers direct the goings on of a ‘50’s style beach party attended by a singing tween star.


Sponsored by the Lincoln Motor Company, Tribeca’s music film challenge begins today and closes on March 27, a little less than a month before the film festival opens. The finalists’ projects will be showcased throughout the event and the winners – three in total, one for each song – will individually receive $10,000.

Many pop-culture or at least music enthusiasts will likely already be well-aware of the interactive video phenomenon. The very first music video for Bob Dylan’s classic song “Like A Rolling Stone” was released this past fall in the form of, yes, an interactive film. Dylan’s very cool concept turns your browser into a TV screen, replete with channel buttons. The song is the only sound and constant, and as you flip through the different channels at will – a cooking network, a history channel, a fashion news segment, a (most ingeniously, if you time it just right) reality show, etc. – the actors all lip-sync Dylan’s words in character. It’s a lot of fun, and has us thinking the organizers over at Tribeca have picked a very cool, and not just trendy, concept to run with.

Here’s a link to the Bob Dylan video and, for all you would-be interactive filmmakers, here’s where you can learn more about Tribeca Interactive Interlude: A Music Film Challenge.

The 2014 Tribeca Film Festival will run Wednesday, April 16th through Sunday, April 27th.

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