The Tribeca Film Institute's Ingrid Kopp on the rise of interactive film and the thrilling future of independent film
As part of our new summer US project States of Independence we've invited our favourite 30 American curators, magazines, creatives and institutions to takeover Dazed for a day.
Tribeca – the film festival founded by Robert De Niro, among others – are parting the tide to make way for previously unheard voices in cinema through their film festival and Tribeca Film Institute. Today, they provide some insight into the future of film, expand on how they support artists year-round, and select some new talent to keep an eye on.
Since beginning her career in the Documentaries department at Channel 4, Ingrid Kopp has gone from success to success and, since moving to New York 10 years ago, she has worked for numerous independent production companies and was Editor-in-chief of Shooting People – a network for independent filmmakers.
Now, as the Director of Digital Initiatives for the Tribeca Film Institute, she overseas the TFI New Media Fund and curates the Institute’s digital and interactive programs. Her most recent development is Tribeca Hacks: a series of hackathons which brings together content creators and creative technologists who must create a product on a time-scale, with the aim to increase understanding of interactive storytelling.
We spoke to Ingrid to find out what really goes on at the famous Tribeca and what she’s looking for from future filmmakers.
MOVING WITH THE TIMES
"At the Tribeca Film Institute, we support filmmakers across documentaries, fiction and new media with grants, mentorship and professional development. We also have an incredible education program in schools and after-school programs to inspire kids and nurture the next generation of film talent. I’m responsible for the Digital Initiatives department where I run the TFI New Media Fund, so my focus is on supporting artists that are experimenting with new forms of storytelling from interactive web docs to apps to virtual reality. I also curate Storyscapes for the Tribeca Film Festival where we show interactive work. CLOUDS won this year – a project about creative code, using creative code.
We’ve just selected a new round of projects we’ve funded through the TFI New Media Fund that will be announced at the end of July. We’ve also funded The Goggles, who made one of my favorite web docs ever, Welcome to Pine Point. They are working on a new project about the Arctic called Chasing The Sun that I’m very excited about."
"The biggest hurdles to overcome are: lots of films, lots of competition, hard to get noticed. One of the things I am particularly interested in is completely new forms of storytelling but that comes with its own set of problems. For example there is currently very little funding, the industry infrastructure is not really there yet, distribution is difficult, there is no critical press dedicated to this work, the boundaries are blurred between industries which causes confusion (but also leads to incredible creativity and opportunity). For example there is an increasing blur between the worlds of film, journalism, games, creative code and digital art in the space that I am working in. Even the words we use get tricky – I increasingly refer to the people we fund as creators rather than filmmakers because they work in so many different mediums.
It’s hard to know where the boundaries are, but like I said, I think this is both a hurdle and a huge opportunity for new forms and creators to emerge."
DON'T GO FOR BROKE
"Be brave, take risks but be strategic. Figure out how you’re going to support yourself and pay your bills. I see challenges rather than problems. Aspiring filmmakers should go into this with eyes wide open and, if necessary, figure out other ways to support themselves while creating their films or interactive projects. I was listening to an interview with the writer George Saunders where he talked about how having a salaried technical writing job actually allowed him to be more brave with his creative writing. He was very honest about the reality of his situation and still made incredible work. I believe strongly that arts and culture are an essential part of all our lives and should be supported as much as possible. It’s why I do what I do. But I also believe that artists and filmmakers need to be increasingly strategic to get their work made (first hurdle) and then seen (second and sometimes the most profound hurdle).
My advice to a young filmmaker looking to break into the business is: be brave, take risks but be strategic. Figure out how you’re going to support yourself and pay your bills. All that prosaic stuff needs to be paid attention to because your films and your art may not be the way you make a living. This doesn’t mean that you can’t make films but it might mean that you have to make films while doing other things."
"I have no idea what the film distribution model will be in the future, I don’t do predictions. It makes fools out of everyone. But I really profoundly hope that good, brave, difficult, weird, niche work continues to get made and supported and find an audience. No matter what platform it is on.
I’m loathe to predict anything but I do think that storytelling will continue to expand beyond the traditional screen in very interesting ways. I’ve seen some projects on Oculus Rift that make me very excited about the potential for telling really layered and nuanced stories in VR. I think there are interesting things happening in the convergence of film and games and would love to see how indie games develop with more narrative elements. There will be some personalized storytelling experiences that will disturb us all I’m sure (being tracked online as you watch the film for example). I’m really excited to be working in this space as all of these new forms emerge. We do story hackathons through Tribeca Hacks to explore some of these possibilities and I can’t wait to see what comes out of them over the next few years. One thing I really hope to see is more women working in this space, both on the story side but especially on the tech side.
Also more global creative teams – these new kinds of work (often on mobile) mean that we can really start to reach out to talent all over the world. I want to start funding work from places that don’t normally get included in this conversation. It will make the work richer and the conversation better."
"I'm excited about so many filmmakers. Elaine McMillion who made Hollow is really talented. I can’t wait to see what she does next. Nonny de la Pena – she calls herself an immersive journalist and is doing really interesting work in VR. Oscar Raby – I was so excited by Assent (on Oculus Rift). Hank Willis Thomas – he's the artist behind Question Bridge. Lance Weiler (Lyka’s Adventure) always has something interesting in the works. Also, The Daniels really inspire me – so much inspiration to be found in music videos still. Oh, and Chris Milk, Aaron Koblin and Jonathan Harris."