Star Wars will always be part of popular culture because fans will continue to expand the storyworld universe. Once upon a time (pun intended) stories were told simply, they moved from the campfire to stages, cinema screens and then beamed out of our TVs, and that was that. Now with the abundance of devices and global connectivity, entire story universes can be told across time, platforms and across the world.
Star Wars was one of the first truly epic storyworlds unleashed in 1977, which continues to reverberate today. Described as an ‘epic space opera franchise’ (LOL!) on Wikipedia, the original film series has expanded to death star proportions through merchandise, side stories, back stories, comics, animation, and 5 stand-alone films including Ewoks: The Battle for Endor (1985) and Lego Star Wars: The Quest for R2-D2 (2009). In fact there are so many associated side stories, back stories and character developments outside of the feature films, Star Wars fans have coined all this ‘extra’ material as theStar Wars Expanded Universe. Like a parallel universe to the official one, huge volumes of fan generated content, videos, comics, photos and artwork are revealed with a quick google search.
Creating a world for characters to inhabit has always sat comfortably within science fiction and fantasy based genres. Lord of The Rings and Harry Potter are two very obvious recent examples. But storyworlds extend beyond fiction. Deep levels of engagement can be achieved with all sorts of content, characters and themes from documentaries through to alternate reality games. In fact last year there was an entire conference dedicated to bringing writers, filmmakers and transmedia experts together in LA to discuss the latest trends and developments in this growing field.
“The interactive multi-platform space is rapidly expanding but, more importantly, it is also maturing. This means great opportunities to generate rich, engaging, narratively complex experiences. There’s never been a better time to be a storyteller because there’s never been more screens and media forms to tell stories on.” Mike Jones, Australian multiplatform expert and winner of the UK ICTommorow Digital Innovation award for Film & TV last year.
Technology doesn’t change what a story is, but technologies and platforms do change audience experience and the process by which writers develop ideas. For today’s content makers, this means seeing storyworld building as central to storyteller’s craft; storyworlds that can generate multiple stories across multiple media and envelop audiences in role-play and immersion.
In an Australian first, Metro Screen in collaboration with Mike Jones has launched an intensive development program for interactive multiplatform stories – The Storyworld Studio, subsidised by Screen NSW.
The rigorous program is an engaging and structured process for the development of meaningful, dramatic and sustainable storytelling in the interactive multiplatform world. Participants will be guided through storyworld design, rules and pressures taking point of view in to account. Narrative adaption, journey mapping and process will be explored along with Author versus Agency, role play and game mechanics. Practical demonstrations and expert advice on presenting and pitching rich creative concepts will see participants completing the studio ready to develop fully-fledged projects.
Applications are due by close of business Tuesday 14 May 2013.
Written by Tiani Chillemi, Development Manager at Metro Screen
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