Posted on March 14, 2018

Young filmmakers at the fourth edition of Qumra, the annual industry event by the Doha Film Institute, gained a glimpse of the evolving trends in media, at the Qumra Talks, a specially curated series of discussions led by industry and media experts.

Reflecting the overarching narrative of Qumra, which focuses on building the storytelling skills of the new voices in cinema, the Qumra Talks on ‘Virtual Reality’ and ‘Content for a Fragmented Media Universe’ stressed the value of content and the fast-evolving nature of media platforms. In his Qumra Talks on ‘Content for a Fragmented Media Universe,’ presented in partnership with the Northwestern University in Qatar, Jon Kamen, CEO of Radical Media, underpinned the power of storytelling that should cut through the clutter by tailoring it for the respective media, be it print, television, radio or social.

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“Understand your audience, understand the production values of the medium you choose,” he advised young talents, who were taken through an impressive visual journey of Radical Media’s works, including a powerful video the company made for Qatar’s 2022 FIFA World Cup host nation bid. Kamen said that a “fragmented media universe” does not mean the need for generation of “short form content” but the multiplicity of media platforms that have now emerged, giving filmmakers, creative professionals and media practitioners the choice to create value. 

He discussed the evolution of communication, highlighting the need to embrace change, especially with the internet and smartphone revolution bringing along disruptive innovation in the media scene. He said that while the possibility of content has evolved – from print, radio and television to screened, experiential, mobile and social – one fundamental aspect remains valid: “Storytelling. It doesn’t matter which medium you use,” and reminded the audience that good storytelling starts with a clear vision and compelling written words.

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In his Qumra Talk on ‘Virtual Reality: Storytelling through Emerging Media’ presented in partnership with the British Council, transmedia artist Simon Wilkinson highlighted the emerging fields of virtual and augmented realities, and presented the exclusive first public viewing of his latest work, ‘The Third Day’. The key takeaway for young talents at Qumra was how, in the virtual reality era, storytelling will shift with the audience also plays a key role as a participant in the story, “so that they leave with their own version of the story”. With audiences becoming a fundamental part of storytelling, the possibilities expand as does the power of young talents to innovate on their content and medium.

Wilkinson detailed the shifts in cultural interactions of individuals – from being centred around television to how gaming is shifting the rules of the game. He said the emergence on playful media and other emerging trends call for the need to have “new story-telling considerations”. The fourth edition of Qumra concludes on Wednesday (March 14), having brought together 150 acclaimed filmmakers, industry professionals and experts to nurture 34 films – the Qumra Projects – by first and second-time filmmakers that are in various stages of development. The six-day event held at Souq Waqif and the Museum of Islamic Art featured Qumra Masterclasses, Qumra Talks and screenings in the Modern Masters and New Voices in Cinema segments.