When I was in Detroit over the summer for the Allied Media Conference, I attended a workshop presented by Evan Casper-Futterman, Co-Producer of the film Land of Opportunity. He explained how the film is using Mozilla Foundation’s WebMadeMovies initiative to create an interactive web campaign. Afterwards, I caught up with Evan to find out a bit more about how the interactive videos work and supplement the film. Here’s what he had to say:
A key component of the Land of Opportunity documentary project is the production and distribution of interactive web-based videos designed to engage and educate viewers on core urban issues of affordable housing, urban redevelopment/planning, (im)migration and economic displacement. We are building an open-source interactive web player for our video content that provides access to an ever-expanding content-rich environment that amplifies and contextualizes the storylines and issues we explore. The goal is to create a multi-dimensional story space that will increase engagement and inspire action. The interactive nature of these webisodes will allow users to relate the stories of post-Katrina New Orleans to what is happening in their own backyards. We have partnered with the prestigious Mozilla Foundation’s WebMadeMovies initiative to create the Land of Opportunity interactive web player.
As they watch a video, users will be presented with “triggers” that appear during key moments. These triggers will enable users to access additional content drawn from a curated “knowledge-base” organized by the filmmakers in conjunction with educational, community and data partners. This additional content will feature video, audio, data, stills, articles, maps, diagrams, scholarly essays, online action campaigns and so forth. While watching the webisodes, users will also be prompted to provide information about themselves (i.e. zip code, age-range, income range etc.) and will then access targeted data that relates the themes and issues in the video content to what’s happening in their own towns and cities (i.e. number of blighted homes in their neighborhood, immigrants rights campaigns in their community, urban planning initiatives in their city etc). In addition, the triggers will allow users to see the latest news and what people are saying in real time about the issues on Google, Facebook and Twitter, etc. Eventually users will also be able to record and upload their own content and triggers. This interface creates a holistic viewing experience that transcends the current limitations of viewing video on the web. It also furthers our goal of inspiring dialogue and analysis that connects the dots between the interrelated core urban issues presented in Land of Opportunity. For students and researchers, the player will be akin to having a dynamic streaming bibliography—video and text can now be used in tandem, rather than as separate resources. All our additional content will be created and organized in collaboration with community, educational and data partners to maximize engagement and impact around our core urban issues.
We are currently building a robust demo of the player, which we will use to attract additional funding and strategic partners. The demo will be completed in late September. We then plan to build and launch the player in three phases in 2012 in conjunction with three webisodes each highlighting a core urban issue covered in the feature film: affordable housing, urban planning/redevelopment, and immigration. Each webisode will be launched with an additional level of functionality, which will initially be piloted in six target cities, including New Orleans, Detroit and Atlanta. Our first websiode–a two part piece on affordable housing in New Orleans, Atlanta, and DC, will utilize a prototype of the player and will be released in conjunction with the National Black Programming Consortium and our strategic local and national partners in early 2012 . While developing this player, we will continue to schedule screenings of the feature film Land of Opportunity.