Doha Panel: Making Films Shouldn't Be Creators' Key Goal in Age of Transmedia

Doha Tribeca Film Festival Logo - P 2012

Doha Tribeca Film Festival Logo - P 2012

The advice comes during Doha Talks session entitled Transmedia: Storytelling in the Digital Age.

DOHA, Qatar -- Going to film school and then spending years trying to make a film is a waste of storytelling time.

Mayhad Tousi, co-founder and CEO of Middle East based transmedia company Boomgem and film school graduate, told an audience of wannabe filmmakers, industry reps and press during a Doha Talks session that making a film should no longer be the ultimate goal for creative storytellers.

"I believe storytelling has to maintain a sense of wonder," Tousi said. "It's funding that is going to adjust to the technology. I'm a filmmaker by tradition but I refuse now just to make a film anymore."

Tousi is currently developing a $10 million budgeted animated movie version of his company's transmedia project Ajax.

The interactive graphic novel ipad application, CIA: Operation Ajax, is a spy thriller, which details the story of the 1953 coup d’etat in which the US agency and British intelligence overthrew the democratically elected government of Iran and reinstalled the monarchy.

Talking at an event held at Doha's Katara resort in the Opera House, a giant Arabian styled version of a traditional Italian theater gold braided red velvet seats and an enormous stage, Tousi said establishing an audience on other platforms can help allow wannabe filmmakers to write their own ticket.

According to the panel, the digital age amid a growing opportunity to make material available across multi-platforms such as smart phones and tablets can negate the need for old school methods of content creation and distribution.

Tousi said there are three drivers of change in the digital world - demographic shifts, a reshaped global power structure and disruptive innovation.

The session, moderated by Ayman Itamil, went on to discuss how technology is shaping the way content is  created, consumed and interacted with by audiences.

"Storytelling needs to be sustainable and it isn’t in its current form," said Tousi.

"Transmedia is about finding new ways of telling stories using more than just film or traditional media as a platform. It’s about using new ways of delivering our stories, it’s not about resisting a rapidly changing environment."

Content creator Yasmin Elayat noted her project, which documented the revolution in Egypt in real time using mobile phones and social media, has taken off.

"We built a platform to enable people to upload and share their content, providing tools to help them tell their stories. We made the community the filmmaker," said Elayat.

And New York-based transmedia producer Caitlin Burns from Starlight Runner Entertainment, said: "When you are building a story you become an entrepreneur, your story is your business opportunity. You then appeal to a group of interested, tech savvy peers and give them the toolset to make something themselves. You are building a creative community and a project at the same time. It’s a phenomenal way to approach the creative process."

She also noted that not having access to the internet smart phones or even movie theaters need not be then end of storytelling hopes.

"You don’t have to go high tech or digital. You can reach people via pamphlets, putting on a live event or even by theatre or radio. It’s about considering how each experience can tell a story no matter what platform is available and using it creatively to its best strength," Burns said.

Burns noted that opportunities for short films in the transmedia world have been birthed recently with online distribution for films and to cellphones.

Added Burns: "It’s the lower tier budget items in transmedia projects that give you a lot of data that can attract partners, investors, distributors. It’s about building the audience and building an engaged audience and once you’ve found that, it’s a good indicator a project will be successful."