From Views to VR: Careers in Digital Storytelling

Date: Aug 16, 2016

The ever-expanding digital landscape has created more opportunities for writers than ever before. YouTube has grown into a platform for filmmakers, comedians, and brands to air self-produced webisodes and web series. The video game industry has embraced and incorporated more narrative and cinematic elements to games. And virtual and augmented reality is the next frontier waiting to be conquered and scripted.

This panel addresses the various paths to a career in storytelling within the digital space. From writing webisodes to VR simulations, our panelists share their experiences creating content for new and emerging mediums and what lessons they’ve learned in often unchartered territory.

Moderator:

Richie Solomon – Richie has developed projects for companies such as Fox Searchlight Pictures, 20th Century Fox Television, MTV Networks, Electronic Arts, Zynga, Harvey Entertainment, and GSD&M. He was a supervising producer and writer for the online video game series Daily Rage!, which ran for over 150 episodes. He was also a writer and designer for such other video games as BINGO Blitz, Zynga Elite Slots, Scratchers Casino, and The Godfather: Gangland. Richie received three Emmy® nominations for his work on the interactive series Stranger Adventures. He is a member of AIAS, ATAS, PGA, and WGA.

Panelists:

Dean Orion – Dean has long blended his narrative talents with emerging technologies to develop unique forms of entertainment. Currently he is Executive Creative Director at Spaces Inc., a virtual and mixed reality company that conceives, designs and builds fully dimensional VR and MxR experiences.   Prior to joining Spaces, Dean was Head of Creative Writing at DreamWorks Animation, where he led a variety of creative efforts, including the conceptual design of an interactive Kung Fu Panda restaurant. Prior to that, he spent six years working as a senior creative producer at Walt Disney Imagineering, successfully developing numerous innovative installations for Disney’s parks and cruise ships. Dean has also written for TV (The Invisible Man on Syfy, Jackie Chan Adventures on Cartoon Network), console video games (Van Helsing and Mission Impossible) and written, designed, voice directed and/or produced many other games and interactive products.

John Zuur Platten – John is currently a creative director at Niantic Labs, developer of Ingress and Pokémon GO, and a creative consultant on a reboot of his Fear Effect property for Square Enix Collective. His work as Visual Effects Producer in the early days of video games led to a relationship with Sega, where John designed, produced and wrote the highly successful Sega CD, Tomcat Alley. John would go on to write and produce Johnny Mnemonic for Sony Imagesoft and create Fear Effect for Eidos, which was named the Playstation action game of the year by IGN. The film Venom, released by Dimension, was based on an original property he co-created with Flint Dille. John has written and designed over 60 projects for every major publisher and studio, including: HAWx2, Apache Air Assault, Ghostbusters, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, The Chronicles of RiddickEscape from Butcher Bay and Wheelman.

Anne Toole – Anne is a writer for TV, games, web series, VR, comics, and short fiction. Her credits include THE WITCHER, a dark fantasy game which earned her a Writers Guild nomination, and THE LIZZIE BENNET DIARIES, a web series that won an Emmy. Anne has spoken extensively on storytelling across platforms at such conferences as South by Southwest, Comic-Con International, GDC Europe, and GDC Online, as well as in presentations at MIT, Harvard, and Cannes. She currently serves as the Vice Chair of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA). A citizen of the EU as well as the US, Anne holds a degree in Archaeology from Harvard.

Evette Vargas – Named by the New York Times as an “Artist to Watch,” Evette Vargas is an award-winning writer, director, producer, multiplatform and Virtual Reality creator. Vargas’ work includes series for Amazon Prime, MTV, Bravo, DirectTV; as well as branded entertainment, apps and games for FAST & FURIOUS, LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy and Madonna. Vargas executive produced, wrote and directed her digital series DARK PROPHET, starring Henry Rollins, which was nominated for two Emmys, premiered at Sundance and available on Amazon Prime. The Virtual Reality series will premier on the Sony Playstation VR. Vargas recently sold her one-hour series, MUSES, to TNT/Super Deluxe. Vargas is a member of the Writers Guild of America, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, the Producers Guild of America and the Alliance of Women Directors. Vargas earned her BFA in Directing and Film/TV Production from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Vargas graduated from UCLA with an MFA in Screenwriting with a concentration in Television Showrunning. Vargas was born in the Bronx and learned to tell stories at the dinner table with her family where the imagination ruled.

Micah Wright – Micah is a writer, designer, and director who started his career in television animation where he wrote, storyboarded, directed, and composed songs for shows like The Angry Beavers, Hey Arnold!, and Constant Payne.  Micah has written and designed on over 50 video games including hit games in the Transformers, Ratchet & Clank, Destroy All Humans, and Looney Tunes franchises, and wrote the zombies mode of the hit video game Call of Duty: Black Ops II.  Micah has written six graphic novels, several films, including his live-action writing/directing debut, the comedic horror thriller They’re Watching. Hired in 2014 by Samsung to help guide the creation of the Virtual Reality experience TheBluVR, Micah was an instant convert to the platform and began directing live action material for VR.  He recently won two Proto awards for TheBluVR, and in Spring of 2016, Micah taught the first live action Virtual Reality filmmaking course in the entire world at Emerson College LA.  Micah is a member of the Writer’s Guild of America, where he serves as the elected Chair of the Video game Writers Caucus and as the Vice Chair of the American Indian Writers Committee… and he’s standing right behind you! RUN!

Doors open at 7pm. Event starts at 7:30pm.

All events advertised on our “Events” page are open to anyone who wants to buy a ticket – not just WGA members!

Proceeds benefit the Foundation’s library and archive and other outreach programs.

 




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