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 3 of an interview with Mike Robbins.

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 next interviewee is Mike Robbins. Mike studied visual arts at York University, and has picked up the technical side of his trade while working at Helios Design for the past 13 years. He is responsible for staying on top of the latest and greatest digital technologies and translating them into engaging online experiences. In this video interview Mike answers the last two questions:

Which could be a possible business model behind the interactive documentary?

According to Mike there are two ways to produce: you can produce trying to get the funds for your project, which is complicated, and you need time to do it successfully; or you can produce without funding because the tools already exist, so the next big thing is to learn processes and mechanisms to do that.

Which are active countries in relation to the production of interactive documentaries?

In the case of Canada and France, it’s a synergy that arises from very strong and active agencies in the two countries, and to this interesting basis we have to add a very extensive network of partners. He says that European institutions need to push this format harder so it’s not only in Canada where things happen.

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