On Tuesday 20th June at 9.30am at Sunny Side of the Doc, the Digital Creation pitch, sponsored the Bell Fund, will be promoting developments in new media.

The session is co-produced with the Montreal International Documentary Festival (RIDM), and offers a new format whereby both decision-makers and creatives will be sharing the stage, allowing for even more interaction and exchange.

Jury members will include David Oppenheimn, Producer, Ontario Studio (National Film Board of Canada), Nicolas Roy, president and creative director at Dpt (Canada).

We’re joined by Mara Gourd-Mercado, Managing Director of Montreal International Documentary Festival, and Claire Dion, Associate Director of Bell Fund. 

Mara Gourd-Mercado, Managing Director of Montreal International Documentary Festival & Claire Dion, Associate Director of the Bell Fund

“In years to come, truly immersive projects will allow spectators to find themselves situated in and interact directly with content. Direct participation will add a more traditional definition to interactivity.”

Has the “native” interactive content that you selected and supported over the past few years now found an audience? And can we expect to see a bright future for digital content creation within our national TV and digital media industries?

The RIDM has been programming interactive documentary projects for five years now in the UXdoc space.

Enthusiasm for such projects is growing, you can really feel it.  In 2014, the festival inaugurated the UXdoc section, a space entirely dedicated to interactive projects. The appetite for these projects is becoming more and more apparent. Over the past three festivals, we have seen an increase in footfall for the UXdoc space, and the enthusiasm for projects featuring virtual reality headsets is not slowing down. Projects like “The Unknown Photographer” (Turbulent/ONF) or even S.E.N.S VR have aroused interest not only from the general public, but also from industry professionals.

These type of “convergence” projects also offer a user experience that transports viewers outside of their comfort zone by offering unique content that’s made to be enjoyed “differently”. The viewing experience of the TV series “Les pays d’en haut” is accompanied by a web documentary and a 360-degree video experience.

It’s clear that digital content creation will continue to take the forefront in years to come. However, we mustn’t forget that the story itself will always be more important than the medium used to present it. In other words, digital projects are the result of our era, but the quality of the narrative remains the key element.

Technological advances and the digital content domain are not only currently experiencing an exciting time, but they’re experiencing one that’s filled with many challenges. On one hand, the digital content business model remains to be defined and determined, while on the other, technological advances are paving the way for new ways of thinking and reviewing existing business models. It’s a situation that’s opening the door up to lots of experimentation, to reinventing a creative language. And this wouldn’t necessarily be possible if this was happening in a context where a clear profit-making model exists. We live in a time where it’s still possible and necessary to push the limits.

The Digital Creation Pitch at Sunny Side of the Doc is supported by The Bell Fund (and co-organised with The Montreal International Documentary Festival). An award will be given to the best project in this category, but in order to succeed on the international market, what are the most important criteria such projects should meet?

  • The subject matter’s universal appeal;
  • The quality of interactive storytelling;
  • The quality of the experience;
  • The platform’s accessibility;
  • And the ability to redesign the visual language and aesthetics of film or the narrative structure, which resonates with this new form available thanks to technology.

Support for the independant digital production industry presents a challenge for today. What does the future hold for financing innovation in both TV and interactive media sectors in Canada? How can you overcome the lack of transnational agreements to set up international co-productions in the digital production domain? 

Models are still in the making, but the interactive industry must first achieve a critical pool of content in order to develop a real public following – and this content must be found outside of the field of gaming. Some Canadian financial sponsors have written joint guidelines aiming to encourage international digital media co-production opportunities.

Within the new PiXii space, the 28th edition of Sunny Side of the Doc will give prominence to immersive experiences and new technologies (virtual reality, augmented reality, binaural recording…), showcasing the endless possibilities of live-action storytelling. In your opinion, what is the most innovative development that is capable of both pushing the boundaries in the documentary genre and also guaranteeing public interactivity?

The very definition of interactivity is expected to grow larger as the number of platforms and media multiply. Too often, projects present a formula, where participation is based on a notion of cause and effect. .

In years to come, truly immersive projects will allow spectators to find themselves situated in and interact directly with content. Direct participation will add a more traditional definition to interactivity.

Both the content and the form will ensure that public engagement will, without a doubt, increase without necessarily using the element of “interactivity”. What’ll be important for user participation is how to translate empathy in actions, how to have a long-lasting effect that will continue even once the media experience is over.

Which recent digital production has caught your eye these past six months and why? 

There’s a project called Flint is a Place by Zachery Canepari and produced by Screen. It was shown at the International Festival of Audiovisual Programs (Fipa) in VR format and it really caught our attention because of its simplicity and also the important subject matter

The cross-platform project develops overtime as we follow the lives of Flints’ residents. The VR component allows the viewer to constantly change the point of view from the police officers to the Flint residents, which helps us understand the different realities of this regrettably infamous town. And what’s most striking about this whole experience is that there are no “good guys” or “bad guys”, each individual is a prisoner of their own circumstances. And this project is like an outstretched hand between those different parties.

About The Bell Fund

Bell Fund_RGBThe Bell Fund provides grants to Canadian independent producers who develop and produce engaging, interactive cross-platform digital content for Canadian broadcasters to complement and enhance associated television programs. Since 1997, the Bell Fund has invested over $200 M in over 2,000 Canadian digital media projects and television programs. The Bell Fund receives annual contributions of approximately $17 M from Bell TV. The Bell Fund is incorporated as a not-for-profit organization, governed by an independent Board of Directors representing various sectors of the television and digital media industry.

RIDM LOGOAbout Montreal International Documentary Festival

Quebec’s only film festival dedicated to documentaries, the Montreal International Documentary Festival presents the best reality‐based films, including the works of established directors and new talents. The festival will take place Nov. 9-19, 2017