Film Gate 2017: New Technologies, New Trends

          Film Gate Interactive Media Festival celebrated its fourth annual conference this past week at the University of Miami with a line-up full of industry innovators. The festival has served as fertile ground for discussion and exploration of all things film, with a keen interest in technological trends in the field of filmmaking and how these in turn influence commercial products like interactive media and virtual reality. This year it had a lot to say on how filmmaking trends are changing today’s most wide-spread form of storytelling: marketing and advertising. The festival opened on Saturday with a networking brunch where attendees had a chance to meet with the various speakers and check out the hands-on workshops sponsored by names like Sony and Red Digital Cinema.

          The lectures on Saturday morning were a study of creative techniques for practical purposes. Mike Knowlton from Campfire and Nelly Gocheva from T-Brand Studio, discussed how modern consumers have grown accustomed to traditional advertising, and so they are now offering alternative methods that infuse brand-awareness with world-building and interesting, immersive commercial campaigns. Knowlton calls his approach “content branding” and prioritizes the embrace of genre and designs that invite participation. A key factor in maintaining consumer engagement in our interactive world, he says, is to always give the users agency. As an example, he spoke about how his team made HBO’s Westworld stand in Comic-Con an active simulation of the show’s concept rather than a corner for the show’s publicity. Gocheva, meanwhile, advocated for more depth in marketing endeavors, for what she called “Native Advertising”, a concept whose main objective is to fill the gap between ads and publishing. This approach has resulted in consumers being interested in a brand because they know more about what the brand is “doing” rather than what it’s “selling”.

           Both Knowlton and Gocheva cited the rise of these creative campaigns as a response to social media, virtual reality and other technological factors that are upsetting our current marketing status quo. David Birnbaum from Immersion takes this observation a step further in his lecture about haptics. Haptics, he defines, is any form of interaction involving touch. But this is a traditional definition, and he chooses to look over it to reach a more poignant one, where haptics means “any form of interaction involving your body”. This provides for him a jumping off point to talk about how our smartphones are constantly increasing the number of haptic sensations they can offer, as a way of being more user-friendly. From the “clicks” the virtual keyboard makes when you tap it, to the camera shutter sound effect, to the different vibrations for alarms, texts and emails, the haptic experience of a product is crucial to its success.

           Although the lectures on Sunday varied through other topics, the top keywords in Film Gate 2017 were still “world-building”, “crafting/designing” and “reality”, which isn’t that big of a coincidence when most of the lecturers’ have a background in the film industry. What’s interesting about this, however, is how these words are coming up more and more in a commercial, practical setting, how these calculated efforts used normally to produce fiction are now being used by creative entrepreneurs to re-shape reality.

Article by Carlos Paolini.

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Carlos Paolini is a senior at FIU, pursuing a Bachelors degree in English Literature, a Minor in Sociology and the Certificate for Film Studies.

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