Mozilla and The Factory Explore Web-Native Filmmaking

Did you know that it wasn’t until thirty years after the invention of television that the first sitcom was produced? That it was twenty years after the invention of the motion-picture camera that someone produced something that we could identify as a movie? It can take decades for new media technologies to find their “voice”: an accepted format for storytelling with the medium.

This spring and summer The Factory embarked on an adventure with a few exciting new partners. The Bay Area Video Coalition collaborated with the Mozilla Foundation and ZeroDivide to explore the possibilities of web-native filmmaking: to help the internet find its own storytelling voice. They asked the question, “What would a story made FOR the internet look and sound like? And how would it be told?” After all, the internet is not a television or a movie-theater: it is its own entirely unique creation and a story told on the internet should take advantage of the immersion, immediacy, and non-linearity that the web can offer viewers.

Twelve youth in The Factory beta-tested Mozilla’s “Popcorn Maker”, a kind of web-native filmmaking software devised in Mozilla’s Web Made Movies innovation lab, by integrating the software into the program’s summer-based Community Filmmaking Partnerships (“CFPs”– short films that The Factory makes for/about East Bay non-profits). In doing so, The Factory filmmakers got a taste of cutting edge storytelling technologies, while Mozilla got the best kind of beta testers for their software: limber-minded, net-savvy teenagers.

These are the four web-native videos that The Factory produced in partnership with Mozilla, ZeroDivide, and our Community Filmmaking Partners. (Tip: make sure you have the most recent version of Firefox, Chrome, or Opera as your browser when exploring these projects):


City Slicker Farms has spent the last ten years working to promote access to fresh produce and prevent violence by "boosting community" in West Oakland through a series of communal urban gardens and weekly farm stands. City Slickers also offers residents a "Backyard Garden" program in which the organization helps homeowners set up gardens in their backyard and then provides them with seedlings and regular follow-up visits. Zoë and Jasmine, the Factory filmmakers working with City Slickers, wanted to create a project that brought visibility the organization and shared important information about their efforts, but they also wanted to make something that reinforced the City Slicker commitment to bringing people together and creating a sense of shared community.

They devised a web-native video that utilized both Google Maps and YouTube. As their documentary plays, each mention of a different farm site that City Slicker Farms has created results in a Google map pin drop. These pins are clickable, linking to a short YouTube video portrait of the location. Furthermore, they built in an option for viewers to drop their own pins where their home gardens are located and share videos or still images of their progress. WATCH NOW >

History in These StreetsHISTORY IN THESE STREETS

The Black Panther Legacy Tour of West Oakland is a four-hour door-to-door history lesson, conducted by former Black Panther Chief of Staff, and co-founder of the Huey P. Newton Foundation, David Hilliard. The tour stops at crucial locations in the Black Panthers' history and highlights the role that the political party played in fighting for basic civil rights of the African-American community in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Patrick, Nick and Brian, the Factory filmmakers collaborating with the Huey P. Newton Foundation, were moved by the tour and were disappointed by the lack of recognition the City of Oakland has accorded sites of such historical significance. They decided to create a virtual walking tour to raise visibility of the Black Panthers and their importance to the West Oakland community, and to provide an opportunity for individuals outside of Oakland to learn the history. WATCH NOW>


Inspire USA is an organization that uses media technology to share first-person stories from teenagers who struggled with, and overcame, mental health issues like depression and suicidal impulses. They distribute these stories to other teenagers so young people can benefit from the experiences of others in similar situations and so they can be made aware of the resources and support that are available to them.

Lauren, Fifer and Raymundo, the Factory filmmakers collaborating with Inspire USA, wanted to develop an interface that conveys some of the crucial statistics around teen mental health issues – making evident how common they are – but they also wanted the interface to be interactive and embedded with stories of how other youth have pulled themselves up and become happier. They envisioned a webpage with stick figures representing teens with mental health issues, with each figure being clickable and linking to an uplifting video or written story. Participants would also have an opportunity to post their own stories, which would then be uploaded to the webpage via Tumblr. WATCH NOW >


Creative Growth artists studio in Oakland is the first art gallery in the country created specifically for artists with disabilities. Creative Growth primarily serves adults, but over the summer they offer a program specifically for teenaged artists.

Stephanie, Matt and Julian, the Factory filmmakers working with Creative Growth, wanted to create a project that shares the experience of the “safe space” that the organization fosters through positive reinforcement and a spirit of inclusion. They devised a web-native documentary that is preceded by a short questionnaire that prompts the viewer to share their ideas of what art is, who inspires them, etc. After completing the short survey, the documentary begins: it uses interviews with the Creative Growth staff to share the broad tenets of the organization’s philosophy but then much of the “b-roll” is created through an automated Flickr image keyword search using the viewer’s answers in the survey. The documentary is endlessly variable, tailored to the tastes of the viewer, and in line with the inclusive and open-minded philosophy of Creative Growth. WATCH NOW >