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Tribeca Film Hackathon: Code As A New Language For Content Creators

The Tribeca Film Institute wants filmmakers to learn to code—and they’re holding a series of free nationwide hackathons to bring HTML5 to the media masses.

The Tribeca Film Institute, best known for its annual film festival, wants to teach filmmakers how to code. Starting on December 8, Tribeca is launching the Tribeca Hacks, a nationwide series of hackathons designed to get content creators with varying levels of coding experience to quickly wireframe, collaborate on, and create original interactive projects. Tuition for participants is free; the program is subsidized by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Ford Foundation.

Tribeca’s first hackathon will take place in Cambridge, MA on December 8 in collaboration with Zeega, a multimedia storytelling platform startup, and the MIT Open Documentary Lab. Participants are working on projects that include a multimedia journalism project from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, gun running in South Sudan, and a "project on mad scientists depicting the battle between Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison."

"For the first event in Cambridge we were keen to find filmmakers and creative artists who were excited about exploring the possibilities of interactive, web-based storytelling. We reached out to a small group of traditional filmmakers who wanted to try new approaches, as well as people who were already well-versed in the potential for interactive storytelling," the Tribeca Film Institute’s Ingrid Kopp told Co.Create.

Approximately 100 content creators applied to the Boston-area event and 20 were selected. Applicants were selected to ensure a mix of established filmmakers and creative types with prior interactive storytelling experience. Participants include seasoned coders and filmmakers with minimal programming experience. Future events will take place in other cities over the next year; Tribeca is planning five other sessions in cities with similar technology/creative demographic mixes.

At the workshop, participants will be given a crash course in HTML5 and the Zeega platform. Once the training portion is over, participants will then create prototypes of their interactive stories on the spot, using previously acquired video, audio, and still images. Once the session concludes, participants will then be able to explore each other’s projects.

Zeega, which has been keeping a relatively low profile, has had a knack for impressing corporate and institutional partners. Last year, the Massachusetts-based startup received a $420,000 grant from the Knight Foundation to develop its platform. The platform combines Tumblr or Storify-style narrative construction with multimedia capabilities to create something close to interactive movies, which can then be shared via built-in social media functions. A sample Zeega can be found here. The company plans to offer its platform for free, with a profit model driven by fees for extra storage or advanced functionality.

[Image: Flickr users Vistavision, and Piers Cawley]

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  • Charles Manfre

    It's good to see learn to code movements in all these different verticals. Journalists, doctors, now film makers. Being able to write code isn't necessary for survival, but it's a valuable skill and a lot better to have it than to not have it.