“Unknown Spring” was built entirely from the ground up by Price and his collaborator Visakh Menon. The project became an immersive html5 website featuring photographs, audio recordings, full-motion video and Price’s written descriptions of his work and impressions as he spent many months and many return trips with the people around the fishing village of Yuriage.
Indiewire recently e-mailed with Price about the project, the definition of convergence and the evolution of independent non-fiction storytelling.
Why do you think The New York Film Festival needs a “Convergence” section (if, indeed, you think it does)?
“I think that every film festival should have a convergence section because there are so many innovative and new things happening out there right now.
I’m very interested in the new pathways that are evolving in telling stories online and should be wholeheartedly supported and explored. NYFF provides a space for such exploration. At this point, immersive storytelling is in its infancy, not really regarded as an art form the way cinema is. By having events such as convergence and because NYFF is such a well established festival it lends credibility to these exciting new forms of storytelling, something that I know will continue to grow. The momentum is unstoppable. What’s going on in immersive storytelling is analogous to the truly independent American cinema of the 70s (or any of the other “New Waves”) where there was a lot of freedom and excitement to try new things. Art in general should always be searching for the new and undefined—immersive storytelling is providing that spark right now.”
Why were you inspired to create a non-linear storytelling experience rather than a linear one?
“My project is all about voice and will be both an immersive website and feature length film. I call my web project a nonlinear stream of consciousness. From the very beginning I envisioned many voices that told various pieces of one story, the story of a beloved land that is slipping away. While the film will explore these topics I can greatly expand upon themes and give much more individuality to each character (and the place they live) on the web. Online, my characters’ voices will cross and converge in a combination that is always fresh and new due to the way I will be able to freely cycle their stories into an ever evolving whole. It’s truly the first time that, as a storyteller, I’m able to do this and have the online segments seamlessly compliment my filmmaking. To that end there is no competition between new and old, both forms (essentially rooted in cinema) should just inspire and challenge each other to be the best they can be.”
Do you think the time will come when we no longer make a distinction between traditional narrative linear storytelling and non-linear immersive storytelling? Will it just be known as storytelling?
“From my point of view, it doesn’t really matter what tools are used to tell a story, it just matters what tools the artist is inspired by. Not long ago there was a meaningless debate between film and digital and before that between photography and painting. Such distinctions are meaningless to me. The criteria for telling a good story will be always the same, no different than if you were making shadow puppets around a campfire or drawing on cave walls: the story has to be compelling and moving, in the end it’s stories told by heart and acute instinct that matter, not what platform they appear on. As non-linear storytelling grows there will be artists who really will innovate with it and break new ground and I think it will firmly come into its own, a very exciting prospect which venues like NYFF help facilitate. Good immersive storytelling will move and inspire people the same way all art forms move people. In the end, it should just be known as storytelling.”