New modes, true stories and the unique world of the web

By Rosie Lavan

In the next in our series of interviews with prize sponsors of The Pixel Market 2012, Power to the Pixel speaks to Brett Gaylor, Director of Mozilla Popcorn. Brett explains why Mozilla is backing the new Mozilla Pixel Market Prize for Non-Fiction, and how non-fiction storytellers can recognise and maximise digital opportunities on the web with web-native documentaries.

Power to the Pixel: What is the significance for Mozilla of partnering with Power to the Pixel?

Brett Gaylor: PttP has been a pioneer in helping “the people formerly known as filmmakers” seize the creative opportunities of their new digital reality. By partnering with PttP, we hope to bring the innovative spirit of the Mozilla community into their communities of practice.

PttP: What qualities will you be looking for in awarding the Mozilla Pixel Market Prize for Non-fiction?

BG: Essentially, we want to encourage “web-native documentary”.  We want to see innovative examples of filmmaking that could only exist on the web. We want to work with filmmakers to move beyond “TV in a webpage” and find new modes of documentary storytelling that take advantage of the unique affordances of the web.

PttP: What can a cross-media approach to non-fiction achieve that, say, more traditional journalism or documentary approaches cannot?

BG: The best feature of the web is that it is a dynamic and ever-changing place – the web you see today will be different tomorrow, because the web is built by all of its users. So documentary can now react to the viewers who are watching, or ask a question, or be reflective of current events.  By weaving in elements of the web, creators can make their work more poignant to viewers, more accurately depict current events, and more conversational in tone.

PttP: What do you think is the significance for producers of The Pixel Market, and the competition for prizes?

BG: The Mozilla Non-Fiction prize will offer an opportunity to take part in one of our hack days, which are a part of the Living Docs initiative. These hack days will pair non-fiction storytellers with creative web developers, and give them 72 hours to hack together a working prototype based on their vision of a web-native documentary. This gives doc makers an extremely valuable opportunity to get their hands dirty in software development and produce a functioning prototype they can share with funders, collaborators, and their new audience.

The Mozilla Pixel Market Prize for Non-Fiction also includes return airfare to San Francisco + accommodation.