Workshops, Pre-production

Bobbi-Lea Dionysius and Heather Faulkner at the Australian International Documentary Conference in March, 2022

In March this year, Bobbi-Lea and I attended the AIDC (Australian International Documentary Conference) where we participated in the Doc-Labs-Interactive workshop with UK interactive stortelling gurus, ANAGRAM. After workshopping our ideas with May Abdalla, director of Anagram Interactive, we have refined our big ideas down to two audience engagement strategies: a “traditional” documentary format for streaming and theatrical release with an opportunity for audience-juries to determine their verdicts and watch the judge’s decision based on their verdicts (i.e. multiple endings) and a “gamified” online documentary in which the audience can interact with the story and each other.

Both of these forms of dissemination are available to us and Bobbi-Lea is an emerging expert in the VR field, having successfully represented the VR film she produced, Sorella’s Story, in competition at the Venice International Film Festival Interactive Island this year.

Why interactive documentary?

Bobbi-Lea and I strongly believe that interactive narratives circumvent the emotional chasm that develops between traditional well-intentioned call-to-action films and the audience (leading to a loss in potential action). I have practiced, researched, and published on transmedia and audience engagement as an academic researcher. Informed by the Kino-automat (the world’s first interactive movie, screened at the Czechoslovak Pavilion at the Montreal World Expo ‘67) the audience-as-jury engage as stakeholders in the narrative, allowing them the unequalled opportunity to deliberate on and influence the course of justice, and the future.

The intention is to use “Dark Design,” i.e. using darkness as an “antidote to naïve, techno-utopian narratives”, to engender critical debate and potentially action towards designing responsible and ethical “automated” futures. Driven by optimism and idealism, “Dark Design,” makes it possible for us (humans and in our case, the audience) to believe we can think our way out of trouble with design as an active accomplice – all is not hopeless.

Importantly, the data gathered from the audience participation can serve to indicate levels of public awareness and public opinion of the implications of the engagement of lethal autonomous weapons by Australian and international militaries.