Fifty of the next generation of UK creative talent have been recruited by StoryFutures Academy to help develop and deliver StoryTrails, a unique immersive storytelling experience for audiences in 15 town and cities across the UK as part of UNBOXED, the ground-breaking UK-wide celebration of creativity in 2022.
The team of emerging creatives – a talented and dynamic cohort representative of the UK population –brings together diversity and innovation to chart a new course for the future of storytelling. Utilising state-of-the-art immersive technologies, StoryTrails will bring untold and intriguing stories from the past to life, connecting audiences with stories inspired by a real sense of place through the magic of the 3D internet.
Catalysed as a response to David Olusoga’s 2020 MacTaggart lecture at Edinburgh Television Festival on diversity in the creative industries, StoryFutures Academy has brought together some of the UK’s most established cultural organisations, including the BFI and the BBC alongside companies at the cutting edge of the 3D internet including Niantic, Nexus Studios and ISO Design to deliver a once-in-a-lifetime chance for the 50 creatives. And having recruited the diverse and representative cohort from all over the UK, StoryTrails is also working to change the face and future of the UK’s creative industries. More information about the creatives can be found at Story-Trails.com/our-team
StoryTrails will use augmented and virtual reality (VR) to reanimate public spaces in new and surprising ways in 15 locations across the UK this summer. The newly recruited creatives will be fulfilling a range of central roles in the delivery of this project from co-producer to designer, to writer and they will span the length and breadth of the UK, with creatives from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales joining up with creatives from across England.
StoryTrails is led by StoryFutures Academy, UK’s National Centre for Immersive Storytelling run by Royal Holloway, University of London and the National Film and Television School (NFTS).
Professor David Olusoga, broadcaster and film-maker and Executive Producer of StoryTrails, said: “In 2020 I gave the MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh Television Festival in which I explored the diversity and inclusion failures within television and the creative industries. Two years later, I am thrilled to be working with StoryFutures Academy to help bring about change in those industries.
“StoryTrails will help to shape the future of the creative industries and pioneer creative storytelling in the 3D internet. This moment, when emerging technologies are finding their form is the same moment the UK’s next generation of creative practitioners are emerging. StoryTrails represents a direct engagement with changing the face of the industry to reflect the diversity of talent across the UK and to use that talent to make the UK a world leader in immersive storytelling.
“As the UK’s largest immersive storytelling project, StoryTrails will be mapping a course for this amazing set of new technologies that engrains diversity at its heart.”
Professor James Bennett, Director of StoryFutures and StoryTrails, and Co-Director of the Centre for History of Television Culture and Production, said: “As the National Centre for Immersive Storytelling, StoryFutures Academy wants to ensure that the UK’s creative industries are not only the best trained in the use of new game-changing technologies but that the future workforce properly represents the diversity of the UK.
“We want to empower and enable diverse talent to become leaders in this new area of national innovation and culture and StoryTrails will offer these 5o creatives the chance to make their mark.”
The project will see 17 creatives making augmented reality story trails across city centres, 15 building immersive installations which will map the emotional geography of a location, nine developing VR experiences and nine taking on a professional placement in one of the StoryTrails partner organisations.
The practitioners will have unprecedented access to material from the BFI National Archive, regional film and television archives across the UK as well as the BBC, with a remit to reimagine screen heritage for the future of the UK’s screen-based industries.
Martin Green CBE, Chief Creative Officer UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK, commented: “StoryTrails is a wonderful project being developed for UNBOXED, which uses cutting edge immersive technologies to tell new stories about people and places across the UK. It’s brilliant that StoryFutures Academy are also recruiting and training 50 creatives from diverse backgrounds to help shape it and expand their skills in immersive technology. In doing so, they are playing a vital role in building a dynamic future workforce for the creative industries in the UK.”
StoryTrails is one of 10 major creative projects commissioned as part of UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK, which is taking place across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales in 2022. The UK’s most ambitious showcase of creative collaboration includes free large-scale events, installations and globally accessible digital experiences, and an extensive learning programme, which aims to reach millions of schoolchildren.
UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK is funded and supported by the four governments of the UK and is commissioned and delivered in partnership with Belfast City Council, Creative Wales and EventScotland.
StoryTrails runs from 1 July – 18 September 2022 and it will culminate in a new film presented by David Olusoga which will screen in cinemas across the UK and be made available to audiences on BBC iPlayer.