The Story+ conference which was part of the 2014 Brisbane Writers Festival was pure inspiration. Described as ‘an intensive two-day conference exploring the future of writing and storytelling shaped by technology, design and data’, I didn’t know what to expect. Except maybe a roomful of young male techno-geeks and one middle-aged female (me).
What the heck, the event was free. If I felt overly intimidated, I could pretend to be lost and exit gracefully. Thankfully a writer friend, Marianna, also decided to go along. Based on my earlier estimation of gender balance, this would increase the female component by a massive 100 percent. United we stand and all that.
The reality was completely different. There was an eclectic mix of writers, illustrators, film makers and game developers all with one shared attribute. Passion for what they do.
Of the many excellent speakers, two in particular caught my interest.
The first was Greg Broadmore, an artist, writer and designer at the visual effects studio Weta Workshop in NZ and creator of Dr Grordbort. His passion is for retro sci-fi illustrations. In particular he loves to draw laser guns, space monsters and dinosaurs (with a few explosions thrown in for fun). When he talks about his work, the passion is palpable. He is a delight to listen to and I couldn’t wait to buy his hard-cover comic book, even though I’m not in to the Flash Gordon hero thing. The illustrations are gorgeous. The text is satirical and funny.
The second was Mike Jones of Portal Entertainment, a writer and creative producer who works across media. What grabbed me was his fresh approach to the business of writing. According to Mike, we must identify ourselves as ‘writers’ first, not as novelists or screenwriters or playwrights. Then, instead of creating work that is ‘character driven’ or ‘plot driven’, we create the storyworld. The storyworld is like a pressure-cooker of oppositional forces, a hot-house capable of generating different experiences and storylines. Within the storyworld you define active and meaningful roles for your audience. You have the power and flexibility to choose the best platform for each storyline. In this way adaptation comes before, not after, the work is created. Mike is also a strong advocate for the ‘writers room’ or collaboration between writers and other creatives to develop ideas and explore possibilities.
Thank you to QUT and Brisbane Writers Festival for this thought-provoking and uplifting event.