DO YOU HAVE A DOCUMENTARY OR FACTUAL PROJECT WITH INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING POTENTIAL?
Can you envisage your project as a playable game, virtual reality work, or large-scale immersive experience? Would you like the opportunity to develop your concept with leading experts in the field and craft a pitch for feedback from a panel of industry professionals?
Presented by VicScreen, Doc.Lab.Interact is an interactive documentary storytelling lab giving nonfiction content creators the opportunity to take their project idea to the next level with leading Australian interactive artists Ben Joseph Andrews and Emma Roberts. Participants will emerge from the program with a rapid prototype of an element of their project, as well as a practice pitch to seek further partners and funding.
Applications are now open for Australian practitioners with a documentary or factual project in early development with interactive or immersive storytelling potential.
Applications close 11:59pm (AEDT), Thursday 1 February 2024. See below for how to apply.
Four project teams will be selected to take part in a two-hour rapid prototyping workshop during AIDC’s Innovation Day on Sunday 3 March, 2024. The teams will then undertake 1:1 pitch training with Andrews and Roberts to develop their nonfiction project into a ready-to-pitch interactive or immersive concept.
As part of the Doc.Lab.Interact program, participants will receive intensive workshopping and support to:
- investigate their project’s interactive storytelling potential
- explore the most suitable format for their project
- learn language and tools to communicate their ideas to tech developers and collaborators
- map out their project from initial concept to rapid prototype; and
- develop a blueprint for pitching their interactive or immersive project
At the culmination of the Lab, all teams will prepare a pre-recorded pitch to be reviewed by Andrews and Roberts, VicScreen and AIDC. From there, teams will be given feedback as to which commissioners, exhibitors and/or festivals seeking projects in the interactive / immersive space may be suitable for their project.
Ben Joseph Andrews and Emma Roberts are an artist duo based on Wathaurong country in regional Victoria. Their work integrates immersive environments within audience-led installations to create collective experiences that expand perceptions, reawaken curiosity and instill a sense of awe and wonder to the mundane.
The pair have created some of the largest location-based VR installations in Australia, including Starless (2017) for City of Melbourne’s Melbourne Music Week, and the 2022 AIDC and ADG Award-winning durational work Gondwana (2022), which premiered at Sundance Film Festival and has gone on to show at SXSW, MIT Open Doc Lab (US), Science Gallery Michigan (US), Kunstahl Charlottenborg (Denmark), and at the South Australian Museum, with an upcoming 48-hour showing as part of Adelaide Festival.
More recently, their series Turbulence won Best Pitch at IDFA DocLab Forum 2023, with the first chapter of the work, Turbulence: Jamais Vu, also winning the IDFA DocLab award for Best Immersive. They are currently participating in the Venice Biennale College Cinema’s immersive program, as one of eight international teams selected for intensive project development.
Andrews and Roberts have spoken at and lectured for NYU Tisch, CPH:DOX, MIT Open Documentary Lab, MIFF, University of Bristol, Sheffield Doc/Fest, and Sundance New Frontier, among others.
BEN JOSEPH ANDREWS
Based in Linton/Wathaurong Country (Australia), Ben Joseph Andrews is a director working in immersive mixed/extended realities (XR) — with a focus on multi-modal installations and performance.
Working with Emma Roberts, his work integrates VR within bespoke multi-sensory environments and performance-driven installations to create collective experiences ranging from the transcendent to the ecstatic, the transformational to the sublime. Projects have been exhibited at Sundance New Frontier, IDFA, SXSW, CPH:DOX, Sheffield Doc/Fest and the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF).
Andrews’ interest in the visceral and bodily affect of XR is supported by a practice-led PhD at the University of Melbourne, exploring the emergent framework of sensory experience and composition in virtual immersion. In 2022, he was awarded Best Direction for Immersive/Interactive by the Australian Directors Guild (ADG).
Often collaborating with artist Ben Joseph Andrews, Roberts’ work integrates interactive technology within public-facing installations (location-based XR, including blockbuster installations ALLTHESTARSTHEYBLEEDTOGETHER (2016) and Starless (2017), both commissioned by City of Melbourne. Her 2022 project Gondwana, premiered at Sundance 2022 before showing at SXSW, Sheffield Doc/Fest, DocAviv, MIT Open Doc Lab, ACMI, Science Gallery Michigan, and Kunstahl Charlottenborg (Denmark). Her most recent work, Turbulence: Jamais Vu, premiered at IDFA in 2023 where it won the DocLab Award for immersive documentary. The larger Turbulence project also won Best Pitch.
Collaboration, strong relationships and industry building are key to Roberts’ philosophy as a creator. She has worked as a mentor and facilitator for the prestigious interactive development lab CPH:LAB (2022 and 2023) as well as for the South Australian Film Commission’s week-long Indigenous Creators Lab. She has presented keynotes for NYU Tisch School of Art, MIT Open Doc Lab, Sundance New Frontier, ACMI, MIFF, Sheffield Doc/Fest, Melbourne Knowledge Week, Electric Dreams XR Conference, and Melbourne Festival. Roberts is currently working with leading French XR studios Albyon and Atlas V with the support of Screen Australia’s Enterprise program.
“WE’VE BEEN WORKING AT THE CUTTING EDGE OF XR OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS, AND WE’RE INCREDIBLY EXCITED BY THE OPPORTUNITY TO SHARE SOME OF WHAT WE’VE LEARNT IN THE IMMERSIVE/INTERACTIVE NONFICTION SPACE WITH PARTICIPANTS OF DOC.LAB.INTERACT. AIDC HELPED GIVE US OUR START MANY MOONS AGO, AND WE’RE LOOKING FORWARD TO RETURNING TO ASSIST IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF GROUNDBREAKING NEW WORKS”
BEN JOSEPH ANDREWS & EMMA ROBERTS
Ideas are being sought from practitioners and production companies from all over Australia working across documentary and factual content.
To be eligible:
- Applicants must be 18 years of age or over.
- Individuals, teams or companies may apply.
- Applicants must be the rights holder of the idea.
- Prior credits are not required but applicants must be able to demonstrate they have the skills to deliver the story elements of the concept
- Successful project teams will be required to take part in a two-hour workshop at AIDC on Sunday 3 March 2024 (AEDT). Preference is for teams to take part in person at AIDC in Melbourne, however, consideration may be given to participants who need to take part virtually upon written approval.
- Applications for each project must be submitted via the Doc.Lab.Interact portal.
If successful, applicants will be required to purchase (at minimum) a Sunday Day Pass to take part in the lab. Refer to relevant submission guidelines for further details.
For more information on what materials you can submit, download the Doc.Lab.Interact Submission Guidelines.
Applying is free and easy with no previous experience in interactive storytelling necessary.
Doc.Lab.Interact is open to all Australian nonfiction storytellers looking to explore the possibilities for transforming documentary or factual projects in early development into a new interactive or immersive work.
To submit, you just need to provide the following:
- An outline of an idea (up to 2,000 words).
Please include in the outline:
- A story outline of current project including access to key talent/participants and use of pre-existing materials
- Describe why and how it will be suitable for an interactive or immersive format
- Outline your initial interactive format preference (i.e. playable game, MR [Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality], online interactive documentary, large-scale immersive experience etc.); and,
- Provide a description of who you envisage as your key audience and what you would ideally like the audience to experience from your interactive or immersive work.
- Materials that you think can support your outline
This could include key scenes (of no more than ten  minutes) from your project , including animations, character studies and/ or pitch decks, etc.
Applications close 11:59pm (AEDT), Thursday 1 February 2024.
UPDATE: APPLICATIONS FOR DOC.LAB.INTERACT ARE NOW CLOSED
We welcome all ideas, but particularly encourage those that highlight diversity and inclusion.
For more information on how to submit, as well as details on the submission questions, download the Doc.Lab.Interact Submission Guidelines.
Doc.Lab.Interact Terms & Conditions.
For all enquiries, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Applications will be reviewed by a panel of experts including Ben Joseph Andrews and Emma Roberts, AIDC, and VicScreen representatives, and evaluated on the following criteria:
- The strength and distinctiveness of the story
- The suitability of the story as the basis for a new interactive or immersive work
- The execution and quality of the submitted materials
- The ability of the team to deliver strong documentary/factual projects
- How your application addresses diversity in terms of protagonists, themes and narratives and project leadership
The selected teams will be notified Tuesday 13 February 2024.
Main Image: Image from Gondwana © Pernickety Split
Second Image: Image from Turbulence © Pernickety Split