Even freelances have to have holidays, and that’s my excuse for the lack of weeknotes lately. Back to work this week, and two highlights.
Wednesday was National Writing Day. I wrote 1800 words on my creative non-fiction work-in-progress. It was a coincidence.
Thursday was the inaugural Creative Industries Showcase at Oxford Brookes, organised by Oxfordshire LEP. Panel discussions were organised (they say ‘curated’, but come on) by Creative England (whose stand is the photo above), the Creative Industries Federation and Digital Catapult.
There was also an interview with Jason Kingsley from Oxford-based games company Rebellion and it was good to hear him talking about their new film studio in Didcot – just up the road from where I am. The size of the building made it ideal but also, interestingly, that it was already sound-proofed because it used to be a newspaper print works.
The theme of the day was the crossover between creativity and tech – whether in the context of the arts, entertainment, campaigns or ‘brands’.
Some examples were:
- The interactive TV film Bandersnatch
- Madonna on stage dancing with ‘holograms’ of herself
- The Lifesaver game that teaches about CPR
- Experiments in digital projects by the RSC
- Installations and special effects at the Glastonbury festival.
Buzzwords of the day were ‘immersive’ and ‘experiential’, and there was a lot of talk about ‘new realities’ – virtual (headsets), augmented (Pokemon Go), mixed – and location-based experiences.
But there was also a lot of talk about ‘storytelling’, and there seemed to be a consensus that creativity is the core of the process: tech provides the tools for creating or delivering content but the story or experience still comes first.
Other insights were:
- You don’t need to start out as an expert – curiosity goes a long way (Amelia Kallman, Inition)
- You can learn through partnerships and collaborations (Ann-Marie Verdin-Mulot, Value Retail)
- Project forwards to what’s likely to happen in the future, then find a way to do it (Jason Kingsley, Rebellion)
- Digital storytelling has been a very tech-heavy space but now it’s turning into a craft, with more possibilities for creative people (Steve Jelley, Hammerhead)
- The ability to think critically (eg about ethics) is more important than tech ability (Catherine Mallyon, RSC)
- Hard skills are not enough: we are whistling into the wind if we don’t protect the core arts (Larry Lynch, Brookes School of Arts)
In other news
While I was away I was still thinking about communications (because that’s what I do), and the Conservative leadership campaign provided a lot of food for thought, whatever your politics.
Rory Stewart provided a masterclass in ‘personal branding’ by exchanging spin and soundbites for mild eccentricity.
Boris Johnson continued to astound everyone by claiming to make model buses to relax. He appeared to be making it up as he went along, but according to Jeremy Vine he’s good at giving that impression. Then people started wondering whether he might be trying to game the Google algorithm so that people would forget about the Leave campaign bus. It slightly backfired: this is just one example of the model buses that appeared on Twitter that day.
And on the subject of social media images, it was a delight to see the Boris and Carrie photograph become a meme almost instantly.