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Where the Transmedia Girls Are

Women—and their powerful projects—were front and center at the recent StoryWorld Conference + Expo in San Francisco.

The StoryWorld Conference + Expo has had a lot of press in the film, technology and gaming communities lately. This first-of-its-kind event was not only well attended, but it also brought together artists, writers and design architects from across platforms to meet, learn and engage with each other for three days.

As an attendee of the conference, I was energized by the new projects and ideas coming out from all sides of the transmedia world. Most of all, I was astounded by another note-worthy phenomenon: the considerable number of women as presenters and audience members.

Film, technology and gaming, three of the core industries in transmedia storytelling, have historically been male-dominated arenas, and many of the women mentioned below have come from these backgrounds as well as from advertising, marketing, publishing and education. These women are true trailblazers in the transmedia storytelling space, and their projects and writings have influenced new creators as well as those already well established in the space. They are mentors, speakers and producers with extensive experience who have received accolades in their fields.

At the top of my list of amazing women from Storyworld is Alison Norrington, founder of storycentralDIGITAL, author, PhD candidate, and oh yeah, did I forget to mention, she’s the Conference Chair. Alison has an extensive background in developing transmedia strategy for publishers, broadcasters and authors. She has presented at TEDx Transmedia (see below), and she runs various workshops and boot camps in London and New York.

Power to the Pixel is a London-based company founded by CEO Liz Rosenthal and COO Tishna Molla, and it was created to help filmmakers design and build cross-media projects. Power to the Pixel is home to The Pixel Lab, a yearly Cross-Media Workshop designed to train cross-media professionals in the skills they need to build multiplatform projects. Liz presented on Day 1 on the opening panel, From Stories to Storyworlds, along with Zak Kadison from Blacklight; Jean-Francois Rodriguez, Head of Gaming and Transmedia at Orange in France; and David Tochterman, head of Digital Media at Innovative Arts.

On the final day of Storyworld, Jan Libby, a creator and designer with ad agencies and media companies for brands including Levi's and Scion, along with Brian Clark, organized an #occupytransmedia protest where attendees could voice their real (or imaginary) concerns about the present and future of the transmedia space.

StoryWorld: Where the Transmedia Girls Are
Photo credit: Jen Begeal

Anyone who reads about transmedia storytelling will know Andrea Phillips. Her blog Deus Ex Machinatio discusses current projects, trends and topics circulating in the transmedia sphere. Aside from being a transmedia author (she has a book set to be published in 2012), Andrea is also a game designer and excellent public speaker. At the conference, Andrea spoke on a panel addressing the issues of funding for transmedia projects, along with another important woman to know, Ana Serrano, founder and director of the CFC Media Lab, the world-renowned and award-winning institute for interactive storytelling.

Representing the women from Down Under, Christy Dena moderated a panel on pervasive gaming and engaging with your audience. Christy specializes in the design and production of transmedia projects, having worked with Tim Kring, The Company P, and Nokia on Conspiracy for Good and ABC’s global alternate reality drama Project Bluebird. Christy runs the Transmedia Victoria meetup group and has given keynotes and speeches at Power to the Pixel, TEDx Transmedia (see below), and DIY Days.

During the Story Architecture – Crafting Transmedia Design panel, Karine Halpern and Siobhan Flynn gave an engaging presentation on how to use different strategies and processes when building your own transmedia storyworld. Karine is a digital consultant with a background in the international film and TV markets, while Siobhan is consultant on digital stories & strategies who has advised over 70 projects for the CFC Media Lab.

The In Production Showcase was an event that occurred both Monday and Tuesday during our lunch breaks. These five-minute pitches allowed independent transmedia storytellers to present their current works in progress.

Two projects in development that really stood out were both produced by women. Haley Moore’s Genuine Quackery was more of a showcase of props and R&D that she does for other transmedia projects than an actual transmedia project. However, her work is so much fun to look at, it is worth sharing, plus she gave all of us in attendance these awesome little metal bottles of Experia memory water.

Karen Wehner’s The Time Tribe is a transmedia adventure game aimed at children ages 8 through 13. The experience is designed to incorporate real and virtual world activities while teaching archeology and history to the players. Wehner, who has a PhD in anthropology, wants to bring the thrilling world of research and exploration to a whole new generation of young explorers.

A few other women I had the pleasure of meeting and seeing present at Storyworld were Nina Lassam from WattpadBlerime Topalli, founder of Brand Band, digital strategist and writer Esther Lim, and lawyer-turned-transmedia-producer Anita Ondine.

There were too many women attendees and speakers to list them all, but this sampling is a good first step to help you find out where the transmedia girls are.


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