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Stellar Network: an R&D lab for storytelling

Director of storytelling R&D lab Stellar Network, Sam Howey Nunn, explains why the time is right to bring together story experts and makers from very different fields – and how you can join in.

Our need to tell stories has existed since the dawn of humanity, and since the earliest drawings on the walls of caves we’ve had a neat succession of ever more sophisticated story forms. Yet with the digital influx todays tools are becoming increasingly difficult to categorise. The silos dictate that we delineate between publishing, theatre, television, film, online and games, but we find ourselves being able to deliver content to audiences across a variety of these platforms in ways that defy those categories. While language in describing the emergence of a more gestalt form of storytelling may be in its infancy, there is no denying that the toolbox at the disposal of creative talents is already huge and growing ever more amorphous.

The different models for individual sectors, from business plans to audiences to language, will of course continue to prevail, so the ways in which core teams set up and finance their projects will have specific flavours – the sector specific tools they know well – perhaps with a little cross-platform and innovative thinking thrown in for seasoning.

The scene is waiting for what Google’s Eric Schmidt called the ‘return of the polymath’, that person or team who can harness all those tools equally and bring the breakout project that sweeps everything along behind it into a new economic reality. So how can that reality be ushered in?

I would argue that to create those polymaths with the full toolbox at their disposal, we need to think innovatively about how projects are set up … and by whom.

What the story innovation ecology needs right now is some truly sector-neutral incubation labs/research and development resources/financed development time – whatever you might call it (there, that language problem again!) The most interesting and creatively pioneering projects might well come out of those spaces where no particular medium or artform is embraced, and the teams built from a range of different sectors on day one.

Stellar Network is a research and development lab for new forms of storytelling, set up to bring rising talents from theatre, film, television, game design and creative technologies together. The aim is to mix those writers, directors, producers, game designers and creative technologists into some kick-ass teams; to train them, to get them building quick-fire prototype stories and experiences, and then to partner them with some awesomely forward-looking organisations in order to test run their story innovation chops. Stellar hopes to break down the barriers between the different creative sectors, giving them a shared language and the means to deliver narrative making full use of the tool box at their disposal.

Our need to tell stories will be with us forever, and the tools we use to tell these stories will be forever changing.

Stellar Network is launching the new Story Innovation Programme on 16th September to run until 19th December 2013. It’s run over a series of dates for three months, is free for participants, and has David Varela and Adrian Hon as expert tutors. This programme is a different proposition from straight training programmes – sending people away with a full notebook that they’re likely never to look at again, along with some half-remembered ideas. Designed and run in partnership with Roehampton University, this research and practice-led programme is designed to nurture independent thought and spark original approaches to innovative story forms.

There are a limited number of places on the programme, apply here:
The deadline for applications is Midnight, 28th July 2013.

Contact [email protected] for more information.



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