The OpenDocLab team is pleased to welcome Arnau Gifreu Castells as an OpenDocLab visiting research affiliate. A Professor of Communication Studies at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) and the Universitat de Vic (UVIC), Arnau is also a member of the i-Docs group. The Director of the UVIC_Lab, the Digital Content Laboratory at UVIC, he has also held research lecturer positions at Harvard University (Harvard Metalab) and York University (Future Cinema Lab).

Arnau is in the process of interviewing a number of practitioners, scholars, and students of interactive documentary about the state of the field. He will be posting select clips on the OpenDocLab website. Below you’ll find Part 2 of an interview with i-docs expert Mandy Rose.

In this series we focus on the theoretical part of the study of interactive documentary. We will conduct video interviews with the main experts in the field based on six key questions: (1) the definition, how would they define the interactive documentary; (2) the evolution of the form, whether they believe that the interactive documentary is a natural evolution of the linear documentary; (3) the change in the logics and dynamics, if they believe there is a change in the logics of production, distribution and exhibition; (4) the role of the author, if they believe that the role of the author is threatened; (5) the business model; and (6) their views on the production, research and events organized by countries that are active in this field, placing special emphasis on Canada and France.

Our fourth interviewee is Mandy Rose @CollabDocs, Associate Professor and Director of the Digital Cultures Research Centre  (DCRC), University of the West of England. She researches the intersection between documentary and networked culture. Mandy has led ground-breaking participatory and interactive projects for the BBC including Video Nation (94-2000), and Capture Wales (2001-2007). Her research is reflected on the CollabDocs blog & @CollabDocs. She is a contributing Editor to the i-Docs website. In this video interview Mandy answers the following questions:

1.Do you believe there is a change in the logics of production, distribution and exhibition?

2.Do you consider the role of the author threatened in this specific form?

According to Rose, the logics of production, distribution and exhibition have totally changed since the arrival of the digitalisation process. With enough time, resources and technical know-how one person can produce a documentary outside the commissioning process, whereas in the last century only a big company could produce a documentary. Rose believes that the crowdfunding model acts as a kind of democratisation of commissioning as well as the appearance of interactive authoring platforms.


The role of the author is not threatened in any way; the clarity of purpose, story and design are even more crucial than in a linear piece, which has a given shape. Authorship is complex in this environment: the architecture and design of an interactive project, for instance, is a form of authorship. There are different layers of authorship. We are trying to find a new name for authorship. She favours the term “co-creation”, which could describe some of these relationships.

Arnau Gifreu Castells (PhD)
Research Affiliate, MIT Open Documentary Lab