THE BLOG

Why London Writers' Week's Theme This Year Is Digital Media

05/06/2017 15:28

Recently there's been a lot of talk about digital media. For example, BBC Three went online last year, there's Amazon Prime, Netflix etc.

But what does digital media really mean for the future of the arts?

When BBC Three moved online last year, David Sillito, BBC Arts and Media Correspondent said:

"This is quite clearly an experiment. Most people still largely watch traditional TV programmes on traditional TV channels.

The new BBC Three will offer up new programmes (around four hours a week of new content) on a website, the iPlayer and YouTube and then hope the audience will discover it amongst the deluge of video material that appears every day across the internet.

Up to this point, online video has been a side dish to the main channels - a chance to catch up or see something extra. Removing the promotional impact of a linear channel risks turning BBC Three into just another website.

However, it does release part of the BBC from the strait jacket of the traditional forms. Programmes can be whatever length the producers want.

Programmes can be turned around much more quickly. Programmes don't have to look or feel like programmes at all. Also, all the traditional programmes made by BBC Three will end up at some point on BBC One or BBC Two."

These and other similar developments are why this year's theme for London Writers' Week - which I am the Director of - is Digital Media.

Following on from last year's theme of Theatre, we hope this year's London Writers' Week will provide access to and showcase the best new ideas going on in new writing in digital media in the UK.

There's events with professionals including the BBC's new writing department BBC Writersroom on what's going on in terms of digital media at the BBC, the Royal Court Theatre on their work for theatre, which is being run in partnership with the leading theatre website WhatsOnStage, with Guardian theatre critic and new Associate Editor of The Stage Lyn Gardner, with Oscar and BAFTA nominated writer Olivia Hetreed, with former Head of Channel 4 Drama and Controller of BBC Drama Production John Yorke, who created Irish soap opera Red Rock which is shown on BBC One and Amazon Prime, with Australian Academy Award nominee and writer, director and producer David Evan Giles whose films include Paradise Road, Australia's biggest budget feature film of the 1990s which launched the career of Oscar winning actress Cate Blanchett, Under the Lighthouse Dancing (with Naomi Watts) and Waiting for the Turning of the Earth, which was nominated for Best Screenplay at the Australian Academy Awards.

So what is the future of digital media? - these are some of the questions we're going to be asking over the week:

1) Why has BBC Three gone online and how and why should we be watching the channel now?

2) What does Amazon Prime and Netflix mean for viewing and how does a show like Red Rock come to be on both the BBC and Amazon Prime?

3) How are theatre productions and writers using digital media like the Royal Court Theatre or writer Al Smith who has written for theatre, film, television, radio and digital media (credits include Harrogate at the Royal Court Theatre and winning Best Series at the 2017 BBC Audio Drama Awards)

4) How can writers get involved in digital media?

5) How can audiences can get involved and respond?

6) Is it a good thing when shows move online or not?

As a new area, we're excited to be providing access for writers and also for anyone interested in these shows and seeing behind the scenes of a show like Red Rock or behind the scenes of film, theatre, television or radio productions.

Digital Media is a new area and research has shown its possibilities are still unclear for both writers and audiences - we hope the week will provide an opportunity to address and explore the future for writers, audience members, teachers, the industry, and anyone with an interest in new writing and shows.

London Writers' Week will take place from the 4th - 9th July 2017 and tickets can be booked here: www.londonwritersweek.com

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