Womenize! – Inspiring Stories is our weekly series featuring inspirational women from games and tech. For this edition in cooperation with Institut Français, we talked to Camille Duvelleroy, independent Writer & Director of interactive stories. Camille gives us insights into her work in transmedia storytelling. Read more about Camille in this interview:
Hi Camille! You’ve been working on numerous projects, films, ideas and interactive programs over the years. Is there one that’s been standing out as a personal highlight?

My last production, the “Patience Mon Amour” series (“Patience, My Love”) is the one that counts most for me for several reasons. First of all, the actual pitch. In summary: Alice and Gabrielle wish to have a family, and therefore start the “commando” process of an assisted procreation in Spain. Nothing is gonna go according to plan.

“Patience Mon Amour” is a series of 31 episodes, broadcasted on the Arte TV Instagram account over 6 weeks. 1 episode a day at noon, sharp. It will also be shown at the “Série Night” of film, theatre and cinema, on 29th November at 8pm CET.

This project is so important for me, because it’s fiction, my first fiction actually to be honest. I started by doing a lot of documentaries or animation related projects but I was yet to become the author of one of these projects. With this series, I was the author, the scenarist and the director. The other thing with this series is that I have been able to carry on my exploration of one of my obsessions: telling stories through a smartphone. And actually another obsession: stories made for social networks.

I’m indeed looking for formats, interactions, broadcast channels which actually meet that audience where, in my view, they spend most of their time: on their smartphones, most of the time, alone.

This is a production made in a vertical format (vertical video frame + integration of sms/chat sequences during the story telling) which questions the classic grammatical audiovisual production and that is something that I really enjoy doing.

Last but not least, it was important for me to share the truth around an assisted procreation process for a lesbian couple in France, both from an intimacy point of view and the impact it has on the day-to-day life of a couple.

When creating the narrative structure for the show “Addicts” on Arte, how did you get started?

“Addicts” was is my first ever production and it’s over 10 years old now. The transmedia context was radically different back then (but who knows, we may actually come back to it). 10 years ago, we were exploring a lot of interactive storytelling options on the web, stories across multiple channels, from several point of views, on several formats.

“Addicts” was a web fiction broadcasted during 5 weeks, with 5 episodes (5 points of views of the same day) per day. Each character had a digital identity. What I mean by that is that we created fake social network accounts (on Facebook, Meetic and blogs) and we were clearly flirting with the frontier where fiction enters the real online world.

I started with the actual characters of the series, to come up with what they would be digitally. Then, little by little, we have had to build the various interfaces so that internet users could play with all the content we created: make sure videos were related to the content that we’d put on social networks, find clues, explore websites with hidden clues to other parts of the narration. It took us a while to come up with this interface. The next step was about putting some kind of chronology behind the publications and anticipate, as much as possible, the internet user’s capacity to go faster than us… So we had to create dead-ends in our narration, false trails, and drive them carefully towards the actual revelation. It was a beautiful challenge and a lot of headaches I reckon…

Which skill sets would you consider essential for someone who wants to pursue a career in the area of transmedia storytelling?

The first thing that comes to my mind is that I love the feeling of standing at crossroads. In other words, I love to feel potentiality. I navigate between audiovisual, video gaming, immersive theatre, web technologies; I love documentaries just as much as I love fiction. It seems to me that it’s super important not to put yourself in a frame. (People would say box but I prefer “frame”.)

Then, I always make my mind clear from the beginning on the things I won’t negotiate on. I call this my MVP (Minimum Viable Project): I identify three or four things which are, in my view, the foundations of the experience. These pillars structure my entire work. It’s important to adapt and listen to the constraints but it’s equally as important to draw a line in the sand, put a limit so you don’t lose your artistic vision.

Then it’s also about trying, failing, prototyping, with whatever means you have at first and then, little by little, with more technical means, more technical support. Accept failure, start all over again, re-do something a zillion times, rewrite. It’s fundamental to confront your work to the public regularly, at various different steps of the project. I think it’s a real challenge to build a true trans media masterpiece, a masterpiece where every channel, every story has its autonomy while linked to all the other stories at the same time. Therefore, you have got to humble yourself all the time, sometimes even get rid of ideas or channels if they are not strong enough for your narration. You have got to make choices.

Finally, I think you need to be driven. You must want it. It means challenging yourself with a difficult and lengthy financial budget for example. It means assembling, gathering and managing multiple teams at the same time. It means wanting not to know where you are going.  (I could have said “accepting not to know where you are going” but it’s not about accepting. It’s another kind of energy. The energy of desire. A driven force.)

Thank you for your time, Camille!

Camille’s links: Personal WebsiteInstagramArte @ Instagram
Photo Credit: Cécile Mella

Womenize! – Inspiring Stories Feature by Sophie Brügmann