This is my first year at TIFF’s Kids International Film Fest.

I am so happy that I got to go. There is always so much to see and do.

When we arrived, my parents checked in at the front desk to see if there was any space for me to go to the free (but ticketed) workshop on how to draw Sesame Street Characters with people from Sesame Workshop (the non-profit educational organization behind Sesame Street) as they have an exhibit there this year.

Luckily, there were 3 left and I got one!

Next we headed upstairs and started with the Creative Puppet Lab offered by etsy. My mum asked how long they have had an office in Toronto and they said for about 8 months, so they are just starting to do things in the community. I was so happy to hear that. I spend hours looking at their website!

Then when we were finished making puppets, we headed over to another area where they had a video camera, lights, white backdrop and some costume accessories. I was a bit camera shy, but snagged a black boa and used my sock puppets to make a 7 second clip that they broke down into a bunch of frames, printed, cut and stapled into a flip book of me and my puppets! 

So cool!

I was a little late for my character drawing class, but had a lot of fun doing it. I started with cookie monster, but didn’t get a chance to finish colouring him and brought it all home.

We had tickets for my dad and I to see a film called Antboy. It was a Danish film with English subtitles. I’ve never seen a movie with subtitles before. I really liked it though. It was about 12-year-old who was bitten by an ant and developed superpowers!

Then I finished up with some button making before we left. 

I was feeling a bit hungry, so we stopped into  for a vegetarian dinner before heading to my parents friend’s house for the evening. I really like to go there because they have cats and in the summer I get to have a swim in their pool. 

Digital Hopes and Dreams

My interest in digital media and consequently, this program happened in a rather roundabout way. However, my curiosity about this field is driven by my love of storytelling. I wish to explore the unique manner in which interactive digital media projects are transforming narrative paradigms and use this ability to create educational interactive and immersive pieces in museum environments. I would also like to investigate the integration of multimedia elements into performances such as theatre and dance.

My educational background is in theatre, education, cultural studies and media production, with a concentration in video. In my undergraduate studies, I became proficient in a variety of production software (Final Cut Pro, ProTools, Adobe Creative Suite, Flash) and equipment. My video professor was a filmmaker who produced work focused on social justice issues. She engaged us in critical and analytic discussion about the disruptive potential of video work and encouraged us to integrate these approaches into our own work. During my senior year, she introduced my class to interactive web-based and transmedia documentaries.

This subject peaked my interest and I began to research the subject outside of class time. This led me to take an interactive new media art class where I was taught a variety of skills including basic web language (HTML, XHTML, CSS) along with some more live performance-based software (Max/MSP, ChucK, miniAudicle, Audacity).

In the fall of 2012, I co-coordinated a conference on the integration of digital media and projection in performance (eg. dance, opera and theatre) During the event I was exposed to a huge variety of approaches to this subject, but the underlying theme of speeches, workshops and discussions was what really peaked my interest: How do companies and artists integrate these diverse technologies into our works so that they are integral to the narrative and dramaturological process? In other words, how do we evolve the digital elements so that they serve more than just an aesthetic purpose to the work? As someone with a background in theatre and performance, this idea fascinated me. The integration of media into live performance is not a new idea, but that nature of the technology is so fluid and ever-changing that these professionals are struggling to create rules and standards around the use of these elements. Every project is completely unique - much of the software is bespoke, the hardware is Jerry-rigged and the set-up is improvised. These people are literally making up the rules as they go and constantly problem solving, trouble-shooting and adapting.

The prospect of such an constantly evolving environment that included two of my passions, theatre and digital media, is super exciting to me. After the conference, I began to research many of the companies and individuals that had attended and spoken. A few of my favourites included: Moment Factory, a Montreal based digital projection agency; Playground Studios, Toronto-based couple Ben Chaisson and Beth Kates who are the leaders in theatre projection and Ars Electronica, the landmark Vienna-based arts, technology and science organization. 

In the spring of 2013 I worked as an educational facilitator at the digiPlaySpace interactive art exhibit at the Toronto International Film Festival. In this position I lead school groups on tours of the exhibit that engaged and informed them about the works they were viewing. This exhibit opened my eyes to the incredible interactive media works being created. It also reminded me of the way in which digital media can engage people in a multi-sensory, non-linear way that if used correctly could benefit those who have trouble learning in more traditional, lecture-style environment.

Overall, my main goal for this program would be to become not only digitally literate, but digitally fluent – meaning that I can communicate any idea I have as effectively through digital media as I can through traditional ones. I believe that digitally literacy is as important a skill to have as traditional literacy. While I currently lack the artistic vision or technological finesse to create interactive installations, I think this program will give me the skills to be able to communicate my vision to other workers in the field so as to make a project come to life. I can’t wait to discover what this year has to offer!

Watch on zazumyers.tumblr.com

THE FOX AND THE CHICKADEE

A film by Evan DeRushie

Designer - 3D Sets: Winston Hacking

Designer - 2D Sets: Zazu Myers

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