StoryFutures Academy brought together some of the UK’s most established media names, including the BFI and the BBC alongside companies at the cutting edge of the 3D internet including Niantic, Nexus Studios and ISO Design to deliver a once-in-a-lifetime chance for not only the 50 creatives, but also to change the face and future of the UK’s creative industries.
StoryTrails saw 17 creatives making augmented reality trails across city centres, 15 creatives building immersive installations which will map the emotional geography of a location, 9 creatives developing VR experiences, and 9 creatives taking on a professional placement in one of the StoryTrails partner organisations.
The practitioners had unprecedented access to archive material from the BFI, national and regional film archives across the UK as well as the BBC, with a remit to reimagine screen heritage for the future of the UK’s screen based industries.
A team of 50 creative media practitioners were recruited and trained by StoryFutures Academy to tell the stories of 15 communities through state-of-the-art immersive technologies in new and surprising ways.
Their varied roles included creating augmented reality trails across city centres, building immersive installations which mapped the emotional geography of a location, or taking on a professional placement in one of the StoryFutures partner organisations.
All roles involved working as part of a project with unprecedented access to archive material from the BFI, national and regional film archives across the UK as well as the BBC, with a remit to reimagine our screen heritage for the future. Full training in immersive technology was been provided alongside access to state of the art equipment, production support and production credits for their work.
Imaan has always been interested in telling stories and sharing tales from under-represented groups whilst capturing untold stories and is excited to gain hands-on experience with Virtual Reality, 3D scanning and Augmented Reality technology. Recent works include producing a short documentary called Evocation, which was made solely using still images, with a combination of the use of audiovisual archival footage and factual-based storytelling.
“I love the urban community of Sheffield as the city's youth are making great progress in innovation which inspired me to unearth more diverse stories about how the diaspora contributed to Sheffield's rich history and economy.”
“My favourite library book is titled ‘We Are Writers’. This book has a special part in my collection as it offered every child in every school an opportunity to be a published creative writer, I was published as a new author in 2014.”
George was born in Newport and began his audio journey at the local community radio station. His experience includes the award winning podcast ‘Power Corrupts’. With over 2.5 million downloads and listeners in more than 100 countries, it has been described as “intelligently written, [has] masterful storytelling, and a wide variety of stories (…) that are well researched and presented.”
“I love my hometown and its rich heritage. From being a part of the chartist movement, to its illustrious sporting history; there’s a rich tapestry of hidden history waiting to be explored and turned into gripping stories.”
“My favourite library book is ‘The Hobbit’ by J R R Tolkein. It’s a magical book that takes you to another place. I re-read it at least every few years and love it every time.”
Owen has spent the past ten years as a digital storyteller in the social care sector, and was recently chosen from Channel 4’s 4Screenwriting scheme. His short film OVERS was broadcast on BBC Two Wales. He is most proud of working with foster children on a co-production, teaching them how to structure stories, use filming equipment, and helping them to create videos that are now used in the care system.
“Swansea is a city of constant motion, growing and changing, drawing people in from across the world. With a rich history and a deep sense of community, Swansea has so much to share.”
“Nothing beats curling up on a library beanbag with a Roald Dahl tale, and my favourite was ‘Danny the Champion of the World’. No magic, no creatures, just a father and son on an adventure.”
Whilst completing an MA in Immersive Storytelling, Patricia obtained an internship on ‘The Big Fix Up’ (an AR Wallace & Gromit story) by the consortium Fictioneers in partnership with Aardman. She is currently developing an AR music-heritage app experience about the Windrush journey in London – a story that is close to home for her. As a proud Londoner she is excited to illuminate lesser known historical stories.
“After I left school, I took an evening class in TV Production at Morley College, in the Lambeth site. This helped me get my foot in the door and I landed a job as a runner in Soho's post production industry.”
“''It Is I, Seagull'' Valentina Tereshkova, First Woman in Space by Mitchell R. Sharpe is my favourite book. The book is pretty rare, my copy originated from a US library.”
Lucy moved to Bristol in 2008 for her undergraduate degree and immediately fell in love with the city. She is interested in hidden histories and untold stories that focus on testimony. She is currently working on long-form writing, photography and film exploring the experiences of Ugandan Asian refugees who were exiled to the UK 50 years ago. Other works include producing films and writing for NGOs including Save the Children and Comic Relief.
“I love how Bristol is a strongly creative city, from its numerous festivals and arts events to street art and its legendary music scene.”
“I learnt to read from Tintin books, which I would check out of the library. They planted seeds of curiosity about the world and the past, inspiring a love of travel and potentially also my career in journalism!”
Emma studied Performing Arts at Lincoln College. When training at drama school she worked on ‘Home’ by Nadia Fall which is set in a hostel in East London. Emma has also workshopped Hibo Wardere’s book ‘Cut’, centered around experiences of being a refugee in the uk.
“The thing I love most about Lincoln is its architecture. It’s rich history has been preserved so beautifully.”
“My favourite book is ‘Under Milkwood’ By Dylan Thomas - I studied the piece at Lincoln College. It's a love letter to a town that on the surface might seem ordinary but to someone who's from there it's magical.”
Joe is an award-winning film & TV director and screenwriter. His past projects have been commissioned and/or broadcast by BFI Network, NI Screen, BBC, TG4 and RTE 2. His short films have also been screened at various international film festivals; including BAFTA and Academy Award accredited film festivals. In 2019 he completed work on a project called ‘The Night is Black and the Day is White’, a film about caring for and loving a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
“The thing I love most about Omagh is the kindness, warmth and resilience of the people who live there.”
“‘Unreasonable Behaviour’ (by Don McCullin) is my favourite book because I became completely immersed in the story whilst reading it. One of the photographs in the book inspired me to write and direct a short film called Vultures (2015).”
In 2021 Duncan directed and self-shot a six part TV series for BBC Scotland called ‘Scary Adult Things’ where he travelled Scotland investigating issues that affected younger people. He has also made a number of documentary short films over the past few years such as ‘Taking Stock’, ‘Directed by Tweedie’ and ‘Isabella’ which have screened at film festivals internationally and have won a selection of awards such as the BAFTA Scotland Award for Best Short Film in 2016.
“Growing up I visited and stayed in Dundee regularly as my Grandparents lived there. Dundee has been a second home to me. My favourite thing to do was go to the old Olympia swimming pool and ride the cannonball flume that launched you out the side of the wall.”
“My favourite book is 'The Documentary Makers' by David A Goldsmith. I read it whilst I was at Edinburgh College of Art, it had interviews with 15 other documentary filmmakers which I found useful and inspiring.”
Gemma recently created a film for the Sheffield visit of ‘Walk with Amal’, working with community groups across the city as they prepared to welcome giant puppet Amal. As the first City of Sanctuary, Gemma finds it really important to celebrate Sheffield’s welcoming attitude and how it has become home for people from all over the world.
“I love the sense of humour in Sheffield and how warm people are - you are never too far away from a smile or a laugh. It’s a resilient city: people don’t take themselves too seriously and we look out for each other.”
“I vividly remember reading To Kill a Mockingbird at school. The book’s themes had a big impact on me - that everyone should have the right to freedom, to live without prejudice and to be themselves.”
Sile is a freelancer at BBC Radio Sheffield as a journalist, collecting stories from people in the community, editing them and presenting them in different shows. She is most proud of her ‘Tale of Two Homes’ short film commissioned by Migration matters festival. The film looks at belonging among the children of migrant parents and people who have two cultures, one they inherited from their parents and the other they got living in England.
“I love the people and the diverse communities that live here, each person has a unique story to why they came to live in Sheffield and why they choose to stay here, whether it is the peak district, the music and art scene, the universities or family.”
“‘The seat of the soul’ by Gary Zukav is my favourite book because of the confidence it gave me to follow my dreams and my passions”
Michelle has mentored theatre makers in developing digital practises and using mobile technology in their own work. Recent projects include ‘Manimals’, an autobiographically-inspired one-woman show about loneliness, dating and the struggle to connect in the digital age. Manimals was her first solo show, and it launched her career as a multimedia performance artist.
“Lewisham is the most diverse place I've ever lived, and has a sense of community that cuts across class and race. Coming from small-town in Canada, I love the energy of the place and how people look out for each other, despite living in such a big city.”
“I devoured To Kill a Mockingbird when I was 13; I've since read it half a dozen times. It's brilliant storytelling, and it got me thinking about issues that were bigger than myself. It's how I started developing a social conscience.”
Adam is a game creator. His most recent project was ‘News Flash’, created alongside Sutton Library, the game introduces 8-12 year olds to the concept of misinformation. Prior to that, he worked with the Wellcome Museum teaching 11-14 year olds to make games about their experiences. Previous Community Development work also includes telling stories of Social Entrepreneurs.
“I love the mix of old and new, the way that the city is layered on-top of itself.”
“‘The Hobbit’ was my favourite book. I remember a teacher describing the book in class and raced to find it in the library!”
Kenya was an Audio editor for ‘A Brief History of Stuff’ by The Science Museum Group and Storythings. They also the founder of a social enterprise called ‘Understanding Each Other’ which helped bring awareness to mental health through clothing and meetups.
“My family history in Slough because it's important to know your roots! My grandad came to Slough from St Vincent and The Grenadines during the windrush era and my grandma came over from Finland as an Aupair.”
“My favourite book is ‘To Kill A Mockingbird because it was the first book that helped me understand inequality.”
Born and bred in Dumfries, DJ McDowall has been recruited to make an augmented reality story trail around their home town. They have worked to help the community ever since graduating Art College, and founded the first LGBTQ+ youth group in Dumfries in the mid 1990’s.
“Dumfries is bursting with untapped potential, obscure and incredibly inspiring stories. It's people and places and spaces are bursting with history, passion, and a creative flair for making grassroots change happen; for themselves, by themselves!”
“My favourite book is ‘The Carrick Gallovidian’. It brought to life the history of Dumfries & Galloway, and with it a sense of identity, pride and sense of belonging for me that I hadn't previously connected with.”
Tessa has been working in the exhibition and showcase of VR for the last 4 years, with organisations such as Limina Immersive and Sheffield Doc fest. She has also produced a number of VR experiences with Jane Gauntlett, The OthVRs and for her own PhD research which have toured the UK and internationally. She is excited to work on StoryTrails as it is appealing to a diverse audience across the country.
Nathan has sailed on board a replica viking ship during a 6 week voyage from Denmark to Dublin, making a documentary and website for the BBC. Most recently he has been making films for the online channel History Hit. He also created a film for National Geographic about World War 2 which involved the use of immersive technologies including 3D scanning and photogrammetry.
Just before the pandemic started Grace did an artist residency at a fine art university in Surat, India. Her personal project, ‘Belongings’, explored the ancestral stories of the local community by inviting people to share their family heirlooms with; these objects became a vehicle for stories. The final work was made into a book and exhibited in India in February 2020 and soon in the UK. She has also worked on a community photography project for the Greater London Authority where young people celebrated their youth workers by taking portraits of them.
“The warmth and humour of the people in Wolverhampton is legendary!”
“‘Murder on the Orient Express’ by Agatha Christie is my favourite book. I followed in my grandfather's footsteps with my love of murder mysteries”
Jessie is excited to explore narrative and interactive storytelling within the VR format. Her previous works include a feature film ‘Looted’, which she is most proud of due to its large ambition. Jessie has also worked on an AR prototype ‘’Echoes of Crystal Palace’
Naresh has spent the last 3 years or so as part of the steering group for the project 81 acts of Exuberant Defiance. It is a community led arts project to honour and commemorate the 40th anniversary of the 1981 Brixton Uprising. He has curated and produced the 60 seconds stories project for ACE funded CPP network. The project was a collection of 1 minute films made by community arts organisations telling their own stories in their own words.
“I love Lambeth’s independent and rebellious spirit”
"There are so many books that I love. I think I have a different favourite one every day! The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy is without doubt one of my all-time favourites. It's a beautiful and heart-breaking story full of real people told so intricately and powerfully."
Over the past 2 years, Mohamad has produced 5 podcast series. Ranging on topics of youth and advocacy, arts and racism, disabilities and community development. One of the most exciting projects he has recently worked on includes a socially produced documentary that highlights the multidisciplinary science’s that overlap and tell the story of hominoids on earth.
“The people that make up this place are never boring and the potential I've seen here is phenomenal.”
“My favourite book changed each month but The Hobbit was a magical read I never forgot.”
Eva has worked on a transatlantic collaboration with Art2Action Theatre company creating an experimental performance feature film, ‘Eleven Reflections’, directed by Andrea Assaf. The film has gone on to win Best Experimental Feature film at the Silk Road Film Awards in Cannes, and Award of Recognition at IndiFest Film Awards, CA. She is proud to have worked on the Staging Places exhibition, with the British Society of Theatre Design as the AV Designer, for the installation. The project successfully celebrated the diversity in performance design.
Lucinda has worked as a freelance audio, print and online journalist in West Africa from September 2017 – November 2021. In 2021, she spent a week in the Liberian rainforest reporting on hunters who supply the growing transnational trade of pangolin scales, to understand their living conditions and motivations for participating in this illegal activity.
“I love the countryside surrounding Swindon. It's stunning, even on a bleak winter's day, and full of history with its white horses and ancient barrows.”
“My favourite book is Sahara by Michael Palin. The photos and descriptions of Palin’s encounters never fail to take me back to my own adventures travelling around Senegal, Mali, Mauritania and Morocco as a student and the fun, freedom and learnings that accompanied them”
Lara wrote, directed and designed a multi-sensory MR experience that examined the intersection between migration, personal histories, archive and the internet through the digitization, artificial generation and simulation of passed-down protection rituals. She is most proud of her work on ‘NazarVR’. Lara is excited to work on the StoryTrails project for the chance to work with experts in state of the art tech and be part of a collective of 50 emerging artists.
Nina is a composer, audio producer and sound artist working on socially engaged projects such as the ground-breaking dream(ing) field lab. She’s produced award winning audio features for BBC Radio and international networks and has scored music across genres – for dramas, documentaries for film and performance, including the BBC series Tommies, and Outsiders, and the award-winning US podcast The Heist. Her critically acclaimed ‘composed features’ which marry soundscape, field recording and electroacoustic composition with personal testimony and scored instrumentation were the subject of her practice research PhD awarded in 2017.
“I love that Lewisham is home to a full rainbow of humanity, and it has the best green spaces. It's enlivening but you can always find pockets of peace.”
“The books that mean the most to me are often hard to reach, maybe out of print, hopefully taking me to the serenity of the reading rooms of the British Library to read them.”
Marcus enjoys the pursuit of a creative life and career. He has recently made his film directorial debut and has also been producing and presenting audio content for BBC Radio 4, AHRC, The British Library and more. He is excited to be part of the StoryTrails project to learn and create with a talented and experienced team of creatives.
“I love the independent and do-it-yourself mindset of Bristol”
"My favourite book is 1984 by George Orwell. It changed how I perceive the world and Orwell's command of the English Language is perhaps the best I've experienced.”
Sian launched an exhibition at New Art Gallery Walsall, ‘We Are Illuminated’, where she created a body of work in collaboration with people from the area, exploring the neon leisure life, the fairs, carnivals, Walsall illuminations, and cinemas, gathering stories and using artefacts from the museum collections. She is currently working on a project which is exploring the relationship of Oscar Rejlander, a Victorian photographer, dubbed ‘the father of art photography’, to Wolverhampton, where he had a studio for several years.
“I love the people! They’re the friendliest and funniest. Wolverhampton welcomes great people who stay and call this place their home.”
“‘Rebecca’ by Daphne Du Maurier had a big impact on me when I was about 11 or 12 I think. I remember not being able to put it down and being both thrilled and terrified in equal measure.”
Jay completed his first documentary feature, ‘DONNA’ in 2021. It is about an elderly transgender performer in San Francisco, and her reconnection with her siblings. He is currently teaching documentary film at Media Academy Cymru, and enjoys working with young people in this role. He is also a mentor with Ffilm Cymru, guiding documentary makers who are developing their first short film. He is most proud of the film ‘OVERSHARE’ which he made with influencers Rose and Rosie, where they travelled around the UK hearing stories from the LGBTQ community. The film really resonated with young people who may be coming to terms with their sexuality.
“I love Swansea's cultural history - the poetry, music and writing that is still infused in the city today. Also, the coastline around Swansea is totally stunning!”
“My favourite book is ‘A heartbreaking work of Staggering Genius’ by Dave Eggers”
Swindon born Will is documentary filmmaker and director at the production company MELT THE FLY, he has directed and edited critically acclaimed films; his debut film has become a bit of a cult classic in Scotland, ‘Sink or Skim’ which was aired on BBC Scotland & BBC One, the short doc ‘Harmonic Spectrum’, was awarded the Scottish BAFTA for Best Short Film and this year Will released his first feature length documentary, ‘Long Live My Happy Head’ on BBC. Will is thrilled by this new venture into VR/AU storytelling with StoryTrails and intrigued as to what new grounds interactive documentaries can explore. He’s also expanding his freelance network so get in touch if you have any director, editor and VR narrative opportunities!
“Felix Guattari’s ‘The Three Ecologies’ is an essential book that has stuck with me. It discusses how ecology should not be limited solely to the natural world but also incorporate human relations and our subjective ideologies alongside the environment.”
Alison has worked with a group of young women on an investigative drama documentary for radio about issues surrounding FGM. They were invited to the house of commons and worked with the victims and law enforcement to ensure justice was served. They ran very lively community meetings and worked with the victims to bring their findings to life. The piece ‘Why?’ was featured on BBC radio 4 Woman’s Hour. More recently, Alison has worked as a sound designer on an AAA narrative game for Microsoft’s XBox and as lead SFX designer on an audio drama for Audible.
Lucy has been working as a Creative Technologist with artist and producer Sophie Rogers on an Arts Council England-funded project. Together they are creating an arts game using Unreal Engine on interspecies and deep-time. They took the in-development project to Site Gallery’s young people’s program, Society of Explorers with creative computing educator Jazmin Morris. She is most proud of her first virtual reality project, ‘Just-In-Time’, as this helped her develop skills in user experience and interaction. She toured this R&D project around London art events and showcased the project as a resident with Gazell.io Digital Art House.
Simon is looking forward to transitioning his skills to working in a new medium and with new audiences through the StoryTrails project. His previous works include; ‘Unknown Forest’, an interactive outdoor journey piece for family audiences created with The North Wall Theatre and 101 Outdoor Arts; ‘AI’, an exploration of whether artificial intelligence can write a play for the Young Vic Theatre, and ‘Macbeth’, a Chichester Festival Theatres production with John Simm and Dervla Kirwan.He is most proud of his work on ‘The Metamorphosis’, a project that was choreographed by Arthur Pita for The Royal Opera House, The Joyce, New York and filmed for Sky Arts with Ed Watson as Gregor Samsa.
Karol has been in Bradford since 2005. He is an experienced photographer, drone videographer and artist. He is most proud of his photography and videography work which includes his exhibition ‘Back to the Studios’, a promotional video for South Pennines Park, and his photography work for BD25 city of culture BID. He is excited to show all the wonderful stories, rich history and represent Bradford’s diverse communities through StoryTrails.
“Bradford has so much diversity, food, people, communities and is a great location!”
“My favourite book is ‘Small Gods’ by Terry Pratchett”
Neil has worked at the intersection of art and technology for the past 10 years, working with Orchestras and in Museums as well as part time teaching. He has recently made an immersive spatial audio play that will be adapted for VR headsets at the moment. Neil believes people respond better to stories with passion and is excited to be involved with StoryTrails to explore untold stories.
“If you were to ask me the place I loved most in Dundee, I used to say the Reading Rooms - it really was a special club - RIP.”
“When I was a student, I used to check out arthouse and independent film DVDs from the library - the expensive ones! I think sometimes people forget that Libraries lend so much more than books.”
Digital Content Coordinator, ISO Design
Pallavi is excited to work collaboratively building worlds and spotlighting untold biographical stories in a creative and imaginative way. She has experience as a VR artist and in world building. She is most proud of collaborating on short stop-motion animation film “Miss Todd” (2013). Growing up, Pallavi loved the novelty of having a folder in the library, filled with large photos, drawings and facts of different animals that could be added to over time.
Researcher, Uplands TV
Lucia has worked in cinema and TV for many years, including several projects that were either designed for specific communities or were the result of an innovative process of research. She is most proud of her work on “Wildfire” (2020) directed by Cathy Brady which used a unique process of working with scientific research, psychology, testimonies from individuals and actors workshopping to help the development of the film. Her favourite book is “Fellini’s Faces”, a book of photographs of people that inspired the great Italian filmmaker on the streets of the city.
Production Assistant, Produce UK
Letty is working as a Production Assistant for Produce UK as part of StoryTrails. She has experience as a freelance social media coordinator, a festival marketing intern, as well as being an English tutor. She is most proud of her work on ÉCU- The European Independent Film Festival 2020 which was a four-day festival that streamed in the height of lockdown. She is excited to learn more about the StoryTrails locations, the hidden stories, and communities using new immersive technologies.
Digital Designer, Nexus Studios
Rachael is the Digital Designer for Nexus Studios as part of StoryTrails. She has experience designing websites and incorporating branding into user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing interfaces. She is most proud of her work on a hand-drawn animation called ‘Birthday Cake’. She is excited to work on StoryTrails alongside industry professionals on a project that focuses so heavily on conveying stories of cultural significance through the new and exciting mediums of AR and VR.
Script Editor, StoryFutures Academy
Sara is a recipient of the Edinburgh TV Festival’s ‘Ones to Watch’ award. She comes from the world of factual television where she writes and assistant produces for major broadcasters. Most recently, she expanded her story skills to include writing and story consulting for animation & XR. A geographer and footballer by training, her interests lie with playful and innovative media that help audiences understand the world and our place in it.
3D Designer, ISO Design
Since 2020, Jay has freelanced as a 3D animator, creating 3D worlds and assets for music and fashion clients such as Warner Music, Parlophone, MTV and the LN-CC. He is most proud of his work at The Glasgow School of Art’s 2020 Virtual Degree Show, which featured the work of 135 graduating students and was situated in a 3D reproduction of the Stow College. He is interested in the processes of interactive, non-linear storytelling, particularly with immersive technologies, which is why he’s excited to be part of the StoryTrails team.
Aylin has experience creating augmented reality (AR) Apps for a luxury jewellery brand. She is most proud of a project created during her BA which consisted of a virtual reality (VR) environment whereby she taught herself how to use Unity. Her project was showcased and tested as an exhibition at the Oval space. She is excited to be working on a VR project for StoryTrails as she has a deep appreciation for nostalgia where she can implement archive footage.
Marketing Placement, BFI (British Film Institute)
Nóra is the Marketing Lead at the BFI (British Film Institute) as part of StoryTrails. She has previously worked for an international sales company, The Match Factory as a distribution manager and for an independent distribution company, Cinefil Co. as a PR and marketing assistant. In 2019, she was selected as one of the young industry professionals to the Thessaloniki-Locarno Industry Academy International. She holds master’s degrees in Art and Design Management and Contemporary Film Culture.
Cat is a partner in a media production company in Malaysia and has produced video content around LGBT rights issues. As a spoken word educator, she produced 2 animated short films with words and artwork generated from poetry workshops with teenagers. She co-founded the first Pride Parade in Omagh. Her father is a local historian and tour guide which is one of the main reasons Cat is excited to work on StoryTrails – to bring the stories of Omagh to a new audience and allow locals to see their home from an inspirational angle.
“I love the Nestled in the Sperrin Mountains, the scenery is almost as spectacular as the people.”
“I remember reading all the Jean Ure books in Omagh Library as a teenager. The book that stayed with me the most was Plague 99 about some teenage survivors of a global pandemic remaking a new world. 20 years later it seems so relevant”
During her MA at Goldsmiths, Kezi worked with ReAct Youth Theatre, an after-school youth theatre for young people in Southwark and inclusive of young refugees, migrants aged 12-18 from different cultural and national backgrounds. She has previously worked on ‘TAMWORTH AR EXPLORER’, a large-scale app-based AR tour of Tamworth Castle in which visitors follow the spirit of the castle and unlock the hidden stories with a complimentary remote education platform.
“You can't match the Blackpool attitude - friendly, generous and not afraid to call a spade a spade.”
“‘Northern Lights’ is my favourite book. It was the first time I remember reading a book where there was a main female character who wasn't nice, and where there wasn't a happy ending.”
Hafsah is part of the Creativity Council at Bradford Producing Hub – a volunteer role which helps allocate funding for live art projects in Bradford. Her first three short films are set in Bradford. Hafsah has been a resident artist at Open Eye Gallery working on a socially engaged photography project with prisoners throughout lockdown. She has also been training teachers and filmmakers in Nepal and Hong Kong. Hafsah has set up a film school called Working Class Film School where she delivers filmmaking projects for young people aged 7-12 years of age. This initiative is what she is most proud of.
“Bradford is a place that my parents chose to make home when they were young and this is what I love most about my home city.”
“I remember The Autobiography of Malcolm X having a profound effect on me”
Jay has lived in slough for 42 years. He actively delivers VR workshops in schools, businesses, libraries, museums and the care sector engaging with over 19,000 participants throughout the UK. He also volunteers and supports Slough libraries by delivering the BBC VR UK Libraries Tour. He is excited to find and share stories that highlight the people and locations around Slough as part of StoryTrails.
“Slough is full of friendly people and is a great place to work!”
“‘Around The World in 80 Days’ is my favourite book, with travel, adventure with a great mix of characters”
Script Editor, StoryFutures Academy
Catherine is the Script Editor for StoryFutures Academy. She has experience as a Development Executive at an independent TV production company. She has secured commissions for Discovery Network, Channel 4, and BBC in a wide range of genres from factual entertainment to current affairs. Her favourite book is ‘Alias Grace’ as it was the first book she read by the ‘fierce and witty Margaret Atwood’.
3D Generalist, Nexus Studios
Sergio is a 3D Generalist at Nexus Studios, as part of StoryTrails. With a background in Fine Arts and Visual Effects, Sergio has worked on VR integration on Twitch for a University in Stockholm. He is extremely proud of his dissertation in which he created a video game from scratch using 2D sketches and other various techniques. He is excited to be involved in StoryTrails as he believes it is an open project that will allow artists to freely express their creativity whilst exploring new technologies such as VR and AR.
Joseph has a background in Art and Design. He has taught at Blackpool School of Arts since 2017. His creative work includes making, curating, writing and teaching. He has recently shown work with the Partnership (a group of artists with and without learning disabilities) at Blackpool’s Grundy Art Gallery and also at Manchester Contemporary. Joseph enjoys making collages with the leftovers of his students’ work, these pieces signify the crossover between these two roles that he performs as well as his time in Blackpool. He is looking forward to tell the hidden histories of LGBTQ+ people in Blackpool through his involvement on StoryTrails.
“Having worked as an artist and lecturer in Blackpool for the last five years, what I love most about the town is how it manages to surprise you”
“Edmund de Waal's 'The Hare With the Amber Eyes' was my favourite library book. I love how reflecting on the journey of a small collection of objects, he was able to tell an emotional and complicated family history.”
During his time at university, Leo started a musical theatre company ‘Leo&Hyde’. He is interested in the storytelling possibilities of augmented reality and is intrigued to see how these technologies can be applied to musical theatre. He has recently worked on The VR Museum of Plastic on the back of a StoryFutures VR placement, and began working with Cooperative Innovations as a writer and creative producer. This placement provided inspirational insights into what VR museums could look like.
“I get the sense that Blackpool’s golden age is in its future and not in its past.”
“My favourite book is ‘Dawn of the New Everything’ by Jason Lanier. It has a surprisingly rich, mystical view of what virtual reality could open up for humankind.”
Programme Manager, StoryTrails
Madeline has a diverse background in festival production, programming, and screen heritage, from curating independent cinema seasons for Perth International Arts Festival in Western Australia to directing FOCAL International’s outreach programme, including the world’s largest archive awards. Passionate about the creative potential and public value of screen heritage, she has run a national training programme for aspiring archivists and worked as an archive research and strategic consultant.
Professor of Digital Culture at Royal Holloway, University of London. He is Director of StoryFutures, an Arts & Humanities Research Council funded Creative Cluster R&D partnership, and also the Co-Director of the National Centre for Immersive Storytelling: StoryFutures Academy, funded by UKRI. The two projects bring together cutting-edge R&D and training initiatives to develop compelling new forms of story experiences for immersive and a wide array of next-generation technologies.
Mobile AR Producer, StoryTrails
Tom comes from the world of audio, having made podcasts and radio programmes for BBC Sounds and BBC Radio 4 and then working independently. He’s chased cyclists racing 4,000km across Europe on a near non-stop bikepacking adventure, created a chatbot using machine learning to see if it could host a ‘late night love’ radio phone-in and he’s made immersive audio walking tours telling stories of Queer Bristol and the city’s graffiti and street-art culture.
Kylie has worked as a freelance producer for television and feature film companies in Outreach and Post Production roles with a particular focus on Impact Producing for companies including Keo Films in the UK and Madman Entertainment in Australia. As a producer, Kylie brings skills from a successful career as a diplomat in South Korea for the Australian Trade Commission and work in the Education and IT start-up sectors.
Digital Media and Content Coordinator, StoryFutures/StoryTrails
Jack is the Communications Assistant for StoryFutures. After graduating from Royal Holloway, University of London with a First Class (Hons) BA in Digital Media Culture and Technology, he joined the StoryFutures team to manage social media and digital platforms for StoryTrails.
Sylvie is an audio and podcast producer. She is notably one half of an independent sisterhood that brought Coiled Podcast – a docuseries exploring afro hair, to your podcasting platforms. Diversity and inclusion stay at the heart of Sylvie’s core values, with her previous experiences reflecting this. Her passion lies in unapologetically amplifying the voices and stories of underrepresented communities.
Executive Producer, StoryFutures
Claire’s groundbreaking collaborations with public service, commercial and cultural partners have transported and inspired audiences worldwide via AR, VR, films, installations, web, and mobile. Recent productions include ‘Run Forever’, a large-scale video installation and tv ad campaign for Hyundai Motorstudio Busan, and ‘Super You’, a body-tracking AR app for Universal Everything. Claire is a regular industry speaker around technology and immersive storytelling.
Talent & Inclusion Manager, StoryTrails
Rebecca comes from a hybrid documentary and digital / immersive background. She has produced factual projects for Channel 4 and BBC, and built up sizable communities of content creators across YouTube. Most recently she was an Executive Producer on the Oculus VR project Goliath: Playing with Reality with Anagram, which is a true life narrative and interactive CGI experience about mental health, connection and online gaming communities. Rebecca is passionate about promoting creativity and collaboration across diverse individuals and between those with editorial and technological mindsets.
Professor of Screenwriting at Royal Holloway, University of London and Co-Investigator, StoryFutures & Head of Writers Room, StoryFutures Academy
On the StoryTrails project he was involved in initial ideation, helped co-design the training programme for 50 creatives, and is now managing the History Hub team of academic advisors for the project. He recently co-wrote The Filmmakers House directed by Marc Isaacs and is co-author of Robert De Niro at Work from Screenplay to Screen Performance the first academic book looking at Robert De Niro’s practice based on his archive at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin.
Doctoral Researcher in Procedural Audio, StoryFutures
Rich is a Doctoral Researcher in implementing procedural and spatial audio in virtual environments within the Electronic Engineering dept. His particular focus is on assistive technology for the blind and visually impaired, creating a ‘visual-auditory sensory substitution device’ to aid spatial awareness and navigation.
Gabriela is an award-winning audio producer who’s made work for clients including the BBC, Audible, The Guardian, The Science Museum and the London Podcast Festival.
Her work has covered mental health, culture, sport, politics, entertainment, heritage and identity. She’s produced chart-topping podcasts and radio documentaries, as well as immersive audio for museums and exhibitions.
Head of Immersive, StoryFutures Academy
Fiona has worked at the nexus of innovation, technology, and the creative industries for over 25 years. She founded Immerse UK, the UK’s immersive technology network in 2017 and is currently Chair of Eirmersive, the voice of the immersive sector in Ireland. Working primarily in government-funded innovation programmes, Fiona is highly experienced in leveraging potential to support business, programme, and organisational innovation & growth.
Executive Producer, StoryFutures Academy
Amanda Murphy is a BAFTA award-winning Executive Producer for StoryFutures Academy. She’s produced a range of content from digital shorts including the BAFTA-winning Missed Call and digital collections such as Adapt, to large-scale TV productions like the first Big Brother & SuperNanny. She’s excited about the future of storytelling in new immersive media.
Helen Scarlet O’Neill
Mobile AR Producer, StoryTrails
Helen is an immersive participatory and site-responsive specialist with 20 Secret Cinema productions under her belt and has led special projects for the National Trust and The National Archives, reimagining how we engage with history and culture. She ran west London’s site-specific commissioning Festival InTRANSIT for seven years, commissioning over 100 new pieces of innovative work in the public realm.
PR & Media Manager, StoryTrails
Sara is a communications professional with 20 years of experience working in the arts and cultural sectors across a range of art forms including theatre, visual arts, dance, opera, classical music, event cinema, exhibitions, and festivals. She has worked at a number of high-profile arts institutions including 9 years in the press office of the Royal Opera House where she worked on numerous festivals including the London 2012 Festival (part of the Cultural Olympiad) and many education and community engagement projects.
Professor Will Saunders
Creative Lead StoryTrails, Chief Creative Officer, StoryFutures & StoryFutures Academy
An independent media consultant, and executive producer. He is the Chief Creative Officer for the StoryFutures Gateway Cluster and the UK’s National Centre for Immersive storytelling StoryFutures Academy. In collaboration with BBC R&D, he led and launched the BBC’s home for new ideas BBC Taster where new technologies, formats, and talent are tested by audiences at scale. He was also Creative Director, Digital BBC Studios managing digital production for the UK’s leading production company and co-authored the 2018 DCMS Culture is Digital Report. Before disappearing down a digital wormhole Will was an experienced TV & Radio Producer. He has made award-winning shows with; Flight of The Conchords, Lee Mack, Mel & Sue, and Graham Norton. His favourite library books were Asterix & Obelix and the adventures of Tintin, from Langport library in Somerset.
Senior Technician, StoryFutures
Neil is a Senior Technician at StoryFutures. His previous roles were in video production, including post-production, graphics, and interactivity and his MA is in screenwriting. He has recently moved into the field of XR and game design, specialising in Unreal Engine 4.
Head of Operations, StoryTrails
Sarah Smyth is the Head of Operations for StoryTrails and Head of Delivery for StoryFutures Academy: The National Centre for Immersive Storytelling. Before joining the National Film and Television School, Sarah worked as a Production Manager with independent production companies, in factual programming.
Archive Producer, StoryTrails
Rebecca has worked as an archive researcher/producer for the last 20 years on numerous documentary TV shows and feature films for the BBC and independent production companies. Some of her highlights have been working on the BBC VE Day and VJ Day 75th anniversary events, which showcased archive footage in different exciting ways, such as incorporating it with graphics and projecting it onto historic landmarks.
Head of Digital Production, Nexus Studios
Colin Davis leads the XR, AI and interactive production teams at Nexus Studios in the London office. He has overseen major integrated productions for The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Carnival Corporation, Bose, Coca-Cola, LAX International Airport, Microsoft, FX Networks, Dove, Hershey, and Target. Colin has won a variety of awards including an Emmy for Dexter (along with two other nominations), the Cannes Grand Prix and Gold Lion and the One Show Gold Pencil for the work for the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
Senior Interactive Producer, Nexus Studios
David is an award-winning immersive media producer and director working across VR, AR, and mixed-reality. His diverse portfolio includes a BAFTA-winning dive on the Great Barrier Reef with Sir David Attenborough. His work has been exhibited to audiences around the world, including at the Natural History Museum in London, COP21 Climate Conference, Glastonbury Festival, and President Obama’s White House.
Creative Director, Nexus Studios
As Creative Director at Nexus Interactive Arts, Kim-Leigh specialises in directing interactive volumetric capture experiences, as well as interactive narrative design for emerging tech. Kim-Leigh’s background is in XR, interactive TV, emerging technology interaction design, and interactive storytelling. Kim-Leigh brings ideas of embodied interaction and speculative design to the world of television production and product design. Prior to joining Nexus Studios she worked at Sky VR Studios, the BBC, Amazon and Apple. Kim-Leigh studied Design Interactions at the Royal College of Art and has won a BAFTA, Emmy & D&AD for interactive TV work, and three VR pieces that Kim-Leigh directed were recently shown at the Venice Film Festival (2017, 2018 & 2019).
Head of Marketing and Communications, The Reading Agency
Hayley Butler is Head of Marketing and Communications at The Reading Agency, a charity that uses the proven power of reading to tackle life’s big challenges and impacts over 1.9 million people a year nationwide. Hayley leads the Communications team to develop significant partnerships, engage audiences and deliver creative campaigns that amplify the great work being achieved across the organisation. Her career has been dedicated to creating opportunities for those who need it most, enabling access to arts, culture, and education whilst supporting mental health and wellbeing.
Library Liaison Manager, Libraries Connected
Simon is behind the book blog and Youtube channel Savidge Reads. He founded the Green Carnation Prize, has been a talent scout for Orion Publishing, and is a judge for the Guardians’ Not the Booker, Fiction Uncovered, and the Costa Book Awards. He has written for the Bookseller, Waterstones, the Guardian and The Independent and hosted literary events at bookshops and festivals across the UK and in the USA.
Head of UK Audiences, British Film Institute (BFI)
Ben Luxford is Head of UK Audiences, responsible for a range of funds designed to bring great films to audiences across the UK. Ben worked in the UK Independent distribution sector for 10 years, releasing commercial, crossover, and specialised titles into the UK market for companies such as Optimum Releasing (now Studiocanal UK), Artificial Eye, and Koch Media.
Archive Projects Curator, British Film Institute (BFI)
Simon works with collections of the BFI National Archive, among the largest moving image archives in the world, more accessible through online programming for the BFI digital platforms, helping filmmakers incorporate archives into their work, and collaborating on broadcast commissions and special events. Simon’s specialisms include LGBTQ+ programming, and screen representations of other minority communities.
Project Administrator, StoryTrails
Laura is the StoryTrails Project Administrator. She is a project operations professional with a background working in the event and hospitality sector. As an Event Manager for a number of years, she has worked under several high-profile historic venues selling, organising and delivering events for corporate and private clients. She has also been involved in delivering public events including the Hampton Court Palace Music Festival and the BBC Good Food Show. Outside of work, Laura enjoys nothing more than getting on her bike and being outdoors as well as going for long hikes across the countryside!
Emma is the Administrator for StoryTrails. She has a Bachelors degree in Geography, with an interest in inclusion and accessibility in Arts and Heritage. Prior to joining the StoryFutures team, Emma worked with community focused organisations including The Culture Trust Luton.
Partner, ISO Design
Damien is a partner and co-founder of ISO Design, one of the UK’s leading digital innovation and design studios that specialises in large scale, immersive media projects, motion graphics and animation for television and film, and innovative interactive work for Museums and Galleries, Brand Experience and Visitor Centres and Broadcasters. Damien worked as a graphic designer and promos director in the music industry before forming ISO to work on television graphics, where they continue to work with clients such as the BBC and Channel 4.
Head of Research & Innovation, ISO Design
Verena joined ISO DESIGN through a Knowledge Transfer Partnership with the University of the West of Scotland, helping to introduce a research-led philosophy that can translate into tangible commercial returns and strategic change within the studio. Leading the company’s R&D unit isoLABS, Verena’s role focuses on new digital services, self-publishing, and IP development. Verena also has extensive experience in developing interactive installations for events, trade shows, and permanent exhibitions.
Historian, Broadcaster and Film-Maker
David Olusoga is a British-Nigerian historian, broadcaster and film-maker. His most recent TV series include Black and British: A Forgotten History (BBC 2), The World’s War (BBC 2), A House Through Time (BBC 2) and the BAFTA winning Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners (BBC 2). David is also the author of Black & British: A Forgotten History which was awarded both the Longman-History Today Trustees Award and the PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize. His other books include The World’s War, which won First World War Book of the Year in 2015, and The Kaiser’s Holocaust: Germany’s Forgotten Genocide and the Colonial Roots of Nazism. David was also a contributor to the Oxford Companion to Black British History and writes for The Guardian, The Observer and BBC History Magazine.
Assistant Producer, StoryTrails
Nina is a producer and writer focused on telling female and feminist stories. She has Associate Produced two female-led feature films, Born of War (Lionsgate – 2015) and Close (Netflix – 2018) and is a member of Women in Film and TV UK. Most recently she worked as Director’s Assistant on Netflix Witcher: Blood Origin. Nina is fascinated by VR/AR technologies and how they might be used to tell untold and diverse stories.
Mike Smith has been executive producer on over a hundred hours of factual TV for BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Four, Channel Four and Sky One. Credits include: Simon Reeve’s award winning Sacred Rivers; Rageh Omaar’s The Ottomans (winner of the Voice of the Viewer and Listener Award for Best TV Series), Melvyn Bragg’s William Tyndale: The Most Dangerous Man in Tudor England; Bettany Hughes’ Genius of the Ancient World; Simon Sebag Montefiore’s four series in Rome, Vienna, Spain and Istanbul; The Silk Road with Sam Willis; Other commissions include Javone Prince’s The School That Got Teens Reading and Mark Gatiss’ Gay Britannia Monologues, The Art Lover’s Guide. Channel 4’s Jump London and Jump Britain and Big Art.
Series Producer, Twenty Twenty
Mary Crisp is the Series Producer at Twenty Twenty, who worked with David Olusoga on A House Through Time (BBC 2) as the Executive Producer. She was Producer/Director for Frank Skinner on Music (BBC 1), The Secret History of Our Streets (BBC 2), Who Do You Think You Are? and The 70s: Doomwatch (BBC 2); Series Producer/Director for My Hero (BBC 1); and Series Producer for Born On The Same Day (Channel 4). Mary has experience in a wide range of programmes including ob-docs, drama-doc and archive films, and was a series Producer of documentaries for BBC1, BBC2, C4, and various US broadcasters.
Chris Durlacher is an award-winning documentary maker. His docu-drama George Orwell – A Life In Pictures won a Grierson and an EMMY. One reviewer said, ‘It changed the rules for bio-pics’. Recent work includes Elizabeth I’s Secret Agents, which won an RTS award and was nominated for a BAFTA. He also made an episode in the multi-award winning BBC series The Secret History of Our Streets as well as documentary series about binmen and family businesses, and a docu-drama about a famous murder.
Creative Director, Produce UK
Lee Baker is a creative collaborator and consultant at Produce UK, designing, curating and researching for a plethora of experiential campaigns including brands such as Adidas, Wembley Park, King’s Cross development, and CitizenM. His wealth of experience from 25 years in the music industry, visual arts, theatre, and television fortifies Produce UK’s offering as an arts-led organisation.
Project Director, Produce UK
Lana is a freelance Project Director and has completed placemaking and event-making projects such as art installations, health and wellness festivals, rooftop parties, pop-up shops and much more for clients such as Hyundai, British Land, MUJI, Cartoon Network, Quintain (Wembley Park), Channel 5, Wray & Nephew, and Samsung. At Produce UK she leads many of their key projects, with her experience spaning tech, automotive and FMCG for clients such as Apple, Meta, Diageo and Lamborghini.
Founder and Creative Director, Produce UK
Standing at the helm of the company is practising artist and placemaking specialist Catherine Borowski, Founder and Creative Director of Produce UK. A graduate of art and sculpture at Nottingham Trent University, her artistic intuition and years of experience in the industry combine with a practical, results-driven attitude to make Catherine the perfect leader of Produce UK.
Training Producer, StoryTrails
Beatrice is the Training Producer for StoryTrails. With a first class degree in English Literature and Film Studies, she has a passion for gender equality and representation in the creative industry. Prior to joining the StoryFutures Academy team, Beatrice curated her own film festival, the ‘Women in Film Festival’, in London to celebrate intersectional female creatives and their work.
Tonderai’s background includes a BA (Hons) in Film, Video, and Interactive Arts. He has worked in immersive technology for over 7 years with extensive experience in application development for Oculus, HoloLens, Magic Leap, and other immersive headsets. His technical experience also includes Unity 3D, Maya, and other web tools.
Dr Andy Woods
Audience Insight, Senior Research Fellow, StoryFutures
Andy has a background in academia, industry and the start-up world. His focus is on the interplay between audience insight, software development, and new immersive measurement technologies. Andy can help deliver new solutions to audience insight, based on a mashup of cutting-edge technologies and developing new innovative psychological audience insight techniques.
Audience Insight Researcher, StoryFutures
Isabelle has an industry background in international consumer marketing and degrees in business and clinical psychology. She researches audience behaviours in immersive content to help develop innovative approaches to storytelling. When not thinking about the future of storytelling, she enjoys travelling and experiencing different cultures.
Dr Laryssa Whittaker
Audience Insight, Research Fellow, StoryFutures
Dr Laryssa Whittaker’s background is in ethnomusicology and her doctoral research focused on the experiences of young people participating in South African music-centred development programmes. As part of the StoryFutures team her ethnographic research helps her explore attitudes, values and patterns of engagement around immersive experiences to understand the industry’s future audiences.
Audience Insight, Research Fellow, StoryFutures
Maruša has a background in psychology, sociology, and anthropology which she has implemented in her (soon-to-be-completed) PhD in social change in youth engagement with music. As a mixed-methods researcher, she loves chatting to strangers about their experiences of immersive experiences as well as diving into statistical trends of new data. In her free time you are most likely to find her on a long walk in nature, in a dance studio, or obsessing over a new book (which is highly likely to be feminist fiction).
Audience Producer, StoryFutures
Michelle works with the Audience Insight Team facilitating our audience testing, focus groups and surveys in our host libraries. An experienced producer for creative agencies with a background in TV post-production and animation, she helps run StoryFutures’ user testing platform, TestXR.org where creatives can get feedback on their immersive storytelling projects while they are in development. Michelle is also a fine artist working with trails and maps – creating installations and exhibitions in public spaces such as Southwark and Hereford Cathedrals, and leading public engagement workshops and events across the UK.
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