Tribeca Film Festival 2013

Tribeca Film Festival 2013

Journey as we follow Josh Scherr and his adventure with his Tribeca Film Festival panel.

May 24, 2013

A few weeks back, I was given the opportunity to represent Naughty Dog on a panel at the Tribeca Film Festival.  The panel, entitled “New Standards, New Aesthetics,” aimed to discuss new creative formats and tools available to storytellers, including 3D, 4k digital cameras, and… video games?  Yeah, it might seem unusual to include video games at a film festival, but the TFF in recent years has provided avenues for interactive titles to be showcased to an audience that might not be as familiar with the medium.  Josh Topolsky – EIC of The Verge and the panel moderator – wanted to include us because he felt Naughty Dog’s titles bridge the gap between games and film.

Plus, it meant a trip to New York City with my family, so why not?

The panel was held at 92Y Tribeca, a cool community space used for theater, film, and other public events.  What’s nice about these panels is that they’re free to the general public, so anyone can attend without paying big bucks for a festival pass.  The room held about 150 people and was filled to capacity.

Before the panel started, I met Josh T. and the other panel members back stage to go over some of the questions beforehand.  We were a fairly eclectic bunch – a cinematographer, a digital post expert, a marketing president from Sony, and a video game developer.  I think I learned more about the latest digital filmmaking tech from them in 30 minutes backstage than I had reading dozens of articles.  That’s one of the great things about festivals like these: a chance to speak directly with the people doing actual work with the new technology.  It was fun chatting with them about storytelling and cinematic technique in games, as it was all completely new to them.

Here’s more information on the other panelists:

Christina Voros: http://christinavoros.com/

Michael Cioni: http://www.lightiron.com/about/management/michael-cioni

Alec Shapiro: https://blog.sony.com/leadership/alec-shapiro/

The panel itself went really well, save for some bizarre audio issues; the hour flew by and we certainly could’ve kept going.  You can watch the panel in its entirety here:

As often happens with these things, I didn’t get to half the things I wanted to talk about, but I had a chance to talk with Alexa Ray Corriea from Polygon afterwards.  You can read her write-up here: Polygon - The Last of Us Tribeca Film Festival 2013

I have to say the highlight of the panel happened backstage, five minutes after we finished.  The next panel that afternoon was between David Denby and A.O. Scott, the film critics for the New Yorker and the New York Times, respectively.  I’ve read their work for years and getting a chance to talk to them was both a little intimidating and surreal.  Denby was especially interested in the idea of interactive games, although he was a little skeptical about giving control to the player.  He actually seized me by the shoulders and said “when I see a film, I want to be controlled and manipulated by the director!”  As I explained to him, we have a lot of control over the player in our games – the trick is we try to be subtle about it.  The puppets only get angry when they find out about the strings. 

The rest of my time in NYC was spent running around with my family, and I’ll spare you those details, but I do want to make another recommendation to those visiting the city: if you get a chance, I highly suggest you see Sleep No More, which I’d wanted to see for the better part of a year.  For lack of a better way to describe it, it’s an immersive, fully interactive Macbeth, staged in a massive multi-room warehouse designed to resemble a hotel from the 1940s.  Those of you interested in interactive narrative, game design, or just innovative theater should definitely seek it out.