Chosen from a pool of 30 applications, the filmmakers of six outstanding documentary projects teamed up with web developers to create a prototype, or “minimum viable product”, of a web documentary experience. DOX was invited to the Mozilla offices in Toronto for a closer look at this exciting process of developing a common vocabulary between documentary filmmakers and the web community:
“Our idea is to help consumers of the web become creators of the web,” Brett Gaylor, director of Mozilla Popcorn, says. Hot Hacks is part of Mozilla’s Living Docs project, an evolution of Popcorn, which started with the idea of linking events that happen in a video’s timeline to other elements of the web. Discovering that a large swathe of Popcorn’s user base comprised documentary filmmakers, Mozilla invited them to collaborate with web developers and to produce, within a short time period, ‘a proof of concept for what an interactive piece could be’.
Web documentaries make it easier and more entertaining to access various types of data on an issue. Documentary filmmakers are increasingly using the power of the web to create communities and encourage activism on the issues present in their work. For example, the prototype of The Message, on climate change, features an HTML5 Popcorn-powered debate using development footage to fuel and sustain discussion on the subject. The highly collaborative Union Docs project, Living Los Sures, also uses technologies like Zeega and Popcorn to create an online public space for the ever-changing populations of the Brooklyn neighborhood that it depicts over the course of 30 years.
Director Alison Rose works with the project Following Wise Men, a story about four elderly astronomers on a 50th reunion road trip, uses the power of the web to allow greater flexibility with the scientific content inherent in the project. Their prototype takes the web’s wider audiences on a fun journey by letting us explore the sky above us using Google Sky.