Story City

I’ve just wrapped up my recent project, working as a writer for Story City– an interactive choose-your-own adventure story app.

Story City was started by the wonderful Emily Craven as a way of celebrating the cities we live and play in through digital locative storytelling. The stories you’ll find on the app are like old school Give Yourself Goosebumps/Choose Your Own Adventure branching narratives. However, instead of simply flipping to a numbered page to make your next move, you physically walk to various locations in metropolitan and suburban areas of Brisbane to unlock the next scene. We incorporated artworks, architecture, landmarks and landscapes into our stories to create an immersive and reader-driven story experience.

I chose to set my story, ‘The Curse of the Bramble Spirit’, in my home suburb of Sandgate. As Sandgate is a coastal suburb with a lot of rich history and heritage architecture, it felt only natural for me to write a ghost story, focusing on a mysterious ghost ship sailing around Bramble Bay.

This project was a huge challenge, but so rewarding. One of my writing weaknesses has always been structuring and planning, but you simply can’t write a branching narrative without a lot of forethought. So I learnt the value in sketching and re-sketching dozens of story maps. The other great thing about working on Story City was collaborating with other creatives. As well as two fellow writers, I also got to work with local artist Clare Neal and musician/sound designer Schae to make these stories multi-sensory.

If you’re looking for something fun to do, or a way to see Brisbane and its suburbs through different eyes, download the Story City app and start adventuring! All the stories are family-friendly, but they’re definitely not just for kids. And if you make it to Sandgate and catch sight of the Bramble Spirit, let me know how your journey goes!

clare

(Art by Clare Neal)

Because It’s The Season…

I just finished watching this panel-style interview by The Hollywood Reporter with screenwriters Judd Apatow, Mark Boal, David Magee, Chris Terrio, Michael Haneke, and John Krasinski. Most of these writers are either nominated for Academy Awards themselves or wrote the screenplays for award-nominated films. All of them have some terrific insight to give into the writing process, researching, ethical boundaries when adapting real-life people or events for the screen, and creative influences.

It’s a bit of an awkward interview, given the diversity of the writers and their subject matter, and the abrupt attitude of the moderator, but I found it interesting all the same. I have very minimal formal screenwriting training, but it’s something I’ve been considering lately, seeing as I’m one of those dime-a-dozen people who loves writing and film.

Something I found super interesting was that when the writers are asked, towards the end of the interview, what profession they’d like to have outside of the arts, most of them agreed they’d love to have a rhythmic practical job–like washing dishes, building things, captaining a small ferry–that had a tangible process and result.  I completely agree with this.  I walk past builders working on half-constructed houses almost every morning and feel a weird pang of envy sometimes.  In essence, it’s all creative, really.  Just in very different ways.

As a footnote, Judd Apatow is so great and knows how to completely slice through pretensions, and I’ve decided I love David Magee–he wrote the screenplays for Life of Pi (incredible) and Finding Neverland and has a very jolly face.

If you’re interested in writing, film, creativity, listening to articulate people talk about their passions, or just want to sound really knowledgeable and informed around your friends when the Oscars finally air etc., dedicate 58 minutes of your life to this!

And just in case you were wondering, my favourites for Best Picture so far are Life of Pi and Django Unchained, but I’ve loved all of the nominated films I’ve seen (except for Amour, which I love-hated because it was so stunningly sad and true).