From Story to Storyworld: A Conversation with Futurestates’ Karim Ahmad

Futurestates.tv
by Futurestates / ITVS

“I’ve figured it out. I can open the door, but they have to walk through it.”

Thus starts the innovative, interactive experience that is Futurestates.tv, the online platform for the final season of ITVS’s “Futurestates.” The cryptic message invites the audience to explore a selection of short films and related videos that offer a glimpse of what technology could become in the future – and what such advancements might mean for us as a society.

“Futurestates” is a series of independent short films from established and rising talents in the filmmaking industry that examine today’s most pressing social issues through the lens of future possibilities. The first four seasons consisted of stand-alone episodes. For the fifth and final season, the show’s creators at ITVS decided to do something different: for this season, each film is interwoven into a cohesive online storyworld.

Earlier this month I had the privilege of meeting with “Futurestates” producer Karim Ahmad, Senior Digital Content Strategist at ITVS, to talk about the origins of the series and the evolution of Futurestates.tv. From reflection on the power of science fiction to advice on building interactive, user-sensitive storyworlds, what follows are just a few of the valuable insights that Futurestates.tv can offer independent media makers.

Science Fiction For Social-Issue Storytelling

The concept of “Futurestates” emerged from a desire to explore social issues in an edgier, more sensational format than your typical broadcast documentary. “There’s still a big audience for which watching social-issue documentaries feels like taking medicine,” Ahmad said. “A narrative like science fiction doesn’t feel like that.“

Science fiction is deeply rooted in social-issue storytelling, said Ahmad: “Sci-Fi in all of its incarnations has a long history and tendency of using surreal, supernatural, and fantastical story elements to exaggerate what already exists in society.” In fact, one of the early inspirations for “Futurestates” was “The Twilight Zone.” … Continue reading

This article continues on the Center for Media & Social Impact website, where it was originally posted. Read the full interview there or jump to the section you find most interesting:

Science Fiction For Social-Issue Storytelling

Fiction: The Newcomer on the New Media Block

Collaboration on the Digital Frontier

Creating Cross-Platform Storyworlds

Why Interactivity?

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