Tech and Film Collide at FilmGate Interactive 2015

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As FilmGate Interactive prepares to launch at O Cinema Wynwood, executive director Diliana Alexander explained exactly what the event will be bringing for Miami's cinema buffs.

"I would say that it's a hybrid between a festival and a conference," she explains, "because it has a such a heavy teaching component." After pausing a second she laughs. "That doesn't sound like too much fun."

See also: Meet the Men Behind the Provocative Short Film Dolphin Lover

But it definitely looks like fun; the festival is dedicated to showing off storytellers, involving the audience with weird projects and new technology, and getting people to make their own art.

The festival, which is now in its third year, was founded in order to explore the ever-shifting world of filmmaking. "I decided to explore the different new technologies and how they're affecting storytelling," Alexander says. "And every year it's something completely different, every year there's a game-changer; 3-D printing, virtual reality, drones."

"A big part of it is that we thought with audiences now, and technology being so democratic, everybody is creating content," she continues. "If everybody's creating content, that means the audience expects to be a co-creator, so we wanted to solely highlight projects that have an immersive component where the audience becomes involved. Now it might be a novelty, in ten years it'll be the way it's done."

One of the events on Wednesday takes a look at what the future could potentially hold for us through short films. Futurestates, the ITVS-produced series, speculates on what America will look like in 10, 15, or even 20 years. It's presented as both an immersive online video experience and an in-theater event.

Sci-fi predictions aside, FilmGate is working on changing the future as well. "A lot of these creators seem to be very idealistic in changing the world, so there's a huge undercurrent of social awareness," Alexander explains.

The Learn+Do+Share lab at FilmGate Interactive is one such effort. Robert Colom, the coordinator of the Learn+Do+Share, says the event places high school teens in a workshop scenario where they'll prototype, design, and storyboard their wish for the future.

"I think it's fascinating that we're kind of bringing high school students together with different mentors and professionals in the community to talk about the past, the present, and future of this situation," Colom begins, "and that situation is climate change; specifically, rising sea-levels and how that's going to affect the cityscape of Miami for the next twenty-thirty years."

It's all about presenting tangible and practical ideas to the world that might actually make a difference. And part of providing tangible ideas for the future is new technology. That's what the tech playground -- where FilmGate Interactive will be exhibiting different technologies from both major companies and startups -- comes in. "It's new technology, we have creatives coming in, and you can use it all," says Jose Jacho, Indie Film Club Miami's founder.

"And the best part to me is that inside the tech playground, you have these people exhibiting and you can ask them anything. They'll tell you how to hack it, they'll tell you how to use it. It's gone so far beyond 'here's my product, buy it'. It's more of 'hey look this is what we found out other people are using it for' and then, of course, you have the audience coming in and saying 'this is what we found online - can we really trick your gear out that way?' That conversation is what's happening now."

On Friday at the Freehand Miami is {The And} Game, an interactive documentary experience that places couples face to face at a small table. Cameras will record their every reaction as they read and answer questions about their relationship. They're looking for couples from a variety of orientations and backgrounds (straight, queer, polyamorous) to represent Miami in the documentary experience, especially those with interesting stories. You can email cassandra@film-gate.org if you're interested in participating.

On Friday morning, there will be an immersive workshop with transmedia professional and co-founder of StoryCode, Mike Knowlton. But what the FilmGate Interactive crew is most excited about it the chance to focus on creating a truly expansive local community of talented filmmakers.

FilmGate run until February 8. For tickets, along with a full list of events, visit film-gate.org.

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