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Social Media Storytelling for Filmmakers
Photo by Pia Arthur.

Social Media Storytelling for Filmmakers

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Josh is cofounder and CEO of Gowalla. Prior to Gowalla, he was co-founder and CEO of Blinksale, an online invoicing service, as well as Firewheel Design, an award-winning digital and mobile design consultancy.  An avid skier and snowboarder, he lives in Austin, TX with his wife and two young daughters where he enjoys live music and breakfast tacos.

I believe there is a different path. A path to The Unknown World of the social web. This is a place where we venture off in unexpected directions. It's risky and unpredictable. The rewards are often hidden and difficult to find. There is not a Groupon for it.

Several years ago my father took a writing class with the aim to become a fiction author. As I've always known dad to be the creative type with a penchant to swap hobbies on a whim, this new interest didn't catch me entirely off guard. Soon our phonecalls were filled with updates from his class and debates on what his pen name should be. Mark Williams isn't exactly the most unique name in the world, and he was already imagining his fictitious name gracing the cover of the next New York Times Bestseller.

Like many of dad's hobbies, the novel never fully materialized, but for about a year we enjoyed our semi-weekly discussions about character development, storytelling and The Hero's Journey - a concept I was familiar with but never fully understood.

Today's social web is filled with similar patterns, though they're often far less fulfilling. Increasingly, we're trading the rich narratives of our lives for the cheap thrills of buzzword-laden social media saccharine.

The social validation I experience when someone comments on my latest photo album or retweets a random rambling fulfills a certain need for affirmation in this world. We've all experienced it. The social web is engineered to exploit this. Every brand on the web scrambling to find an angle that allows them to rinse and repeat their messaging, woven through the patterns of these stories as they're shared in real time.

I'm not anti-marketing. But the growing industry aiming to monetize our lives by tightening the story patterns of our lives makes my skin crall just a bit. There is a fine line between social media loyalty programs and game mechanics manufactured to make us slaves to marketing.

The Hero's Journey calls this place The Known World.

It's the brands you follow on Twitter, the coffeeshop you check into daily, and the daily deal emails that clog your inbox every morning.

I believe there is a different path. A path to The Unknown World of the social web. This is a place where we venture off in unexpected directions. It's risky and unpredictable. The rewards are often hidden and difficult to find. There is not a Groupon for it.

As storytellers on the web, in film or through music, we have an amazing opportunity to take the world on a creative journey that embraces the complex narratives of our lives. Let us rise to that challenge.