The Story 2013

The Story 2013 happened on Friday, February 22nd, and was held, as usual, at The Conway Hall, London.

There was a custom-made bag of ‘witches brew’ with the speakers list printed on it for all attendees, made by the lovely people at The Ministry Of Stories. Here is a list of the speakers from the day:

Economist and author Diane Coyle runs the consultancy Enlightenment Economics. She is Vice Chair of the BBC Trust, a member of the Migration Advisory Committee, was a member of the Browne Review of higher education funding, and was on the Competition Commission for eight years. She has worked on competition policy, network markets, the economics of new technologies and globalisation, including extensive work on the impacts of mobile telephony in developing countries. Diane is the author of several bestselling books including The Economics of Enough, The Soulful Science  and What’s The Use of Economics?, a collection of essays about teaching economics, out in September 2012.

Rob Manuel is the co-founder of B3ta, one of the funniest and longest-running communities online. Before social media gurus invented cliches like ‘meme culture’, Rob and the community at B3ta were actually doing it, making bizarre, hilarious and crude jokes out of the flotsam and jetsam of the internet. I asked Rob to talk at The Story because I love B3ta, but since asking him he’s written about cliched attitudes to ‘the bottom half of the internet’ and what this says about attitudes to class in online culture, so I’ve asked him to talk about this as well. Its a really fascinating and important subject.

Alecky Blythe is a playwright and screenwriter who won a Time Out Award for her first play, Come Out Eli, and was selected as one of Screen International’s Stars of Tomorrow in 2007. Alecky’s London Road won Best Musical at the Critics’ Circle Awards and was revived in 2012 at the National Theatre in the Olivier after its sellout in the Cottesloe in 2011. She was also involved in Headlong Theatre’s production of Decade, and wrote and co-directed The Riots ; In their Words, a drama documentary for BBC2. Her most recent play, Where Have I Been All My Life? was produced at the New Vic Theatre in April 2012.  In 2003, Alecky set up Recorded Delivery  (Verbatim Theatre Company). The term ‘recorded delivery’ has now become synonymous with the verbatim technique she employs.

Laura Dockrill is the author and illustrator of Mistakes In The BackgroundUgly Shy Girl and Echoes, and has recently signed a three book deal for Darcy Burdock, a new ‘tween’ series of books with Random House Children’s division- the first of the series comes out in Jan 2013. Laura also resurrects her words on the stage performing poetry spanning festivals to bookshops; including London Literary Festival, Big Chill, E4 Udderbelly, Latitude and Domino festival in Brussels. She has performed her work on CBeebies ‘The Rhyme Rocket’, Newsnight, BBC Breakfast, Woman’s Hour, Adventures in Verse, Afternoon Reading, The Verb, and each of the BBC’s respective radio channels 1-6. She recently joined the advisory panel of our good friends at The Ministry Of Stories, and is currently creating a series of bespoke artwork pieces and writing both a piece of work for a new BBC radio show and a sitcom.

Fiona Romeo is Head of Design & Digital Media at the National Maritime Museum and Royal Observatory, where she’s particularly interested in creating distributed experiences that play against the context of a museum’s historic site and unique collections. Highlights include participatory projects such as Astronomy Photographer of the Year, Solar Stormwatch and Old Weather; the Museum’s new social space, the Compass Lounge; and digital art commission, High Arctic. Previously, Fiona produced content and experiences for brands like the BBC, Disney, and the Science Museum.

Alex Balfour joined the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) as Head of New Media in 2006. At LOCOG he built a team from scratch that delivered 77 digital channels including, two mobile apps, ticketing, volunteering, education, online shop, mobile apps and social media presences to a worldwide audience of over 150m, including 15m app downloads and 112m unique website users during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
He has had a long and distinguished career in new media, including editing GE’97, the UK’s first general election website, making the first consumer Internet telephone call to a traditional telephone, and being part of the team that produced the Guardian newspaper’s first significant websites. In he was a founder of CricInfo, in its day the world’s largest single-sport website with an audience of 20m fans as early as 2000, and became Chairman before the business was sold to ESPN in 2005.

Molly Crabapple is a New York artist. She has created subversive, Victorian inspired art for The New York Times, Red Bull, the Royal Society of Arts, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, Marvel Comics, and The Groucho Club, as well as Occupy Wall Street. Molly has been called ‘Equal parts Hieronymus Bosch, William S. Burroughs and Cirque du Soleil.’ by the Guardian, and ‘A brilliant and principled artist’ by BoingBoing. She is the co-creator, with Laurie Penny, of Discordia: Six Nights in Crisis Athens, about life in Greece under the Eurozone crisis, and has created illustrated journalism for CNN and Vice.

Ben Boucquelet is a writer, artist and animator. He is the creator of The Amazing World of Gumball, an incredibly inventive, funny and subversive show from Cartoon Network. His career in animation includes working with the UK’s most innovative animation studio – Studio AKA – where he met Mic Graves, the co-creator of Gumball. If you haven’t seen any episodes of Gumball yet, then get to Youtube now and make your day instantly better. Gumball is one of those shows that transcends its target audience, with the kind of comic writing and lunatic visual invention that you rarely see in any adult comedy. I’m a *huge* fan (although not as much as my daughters) so I’m really pleased Ben is joining us for The Story next year.

Mikey Please is an extraordinarily talented film-maker, working with stop-motion papercraft animation. In 2010 he completed a Masters in Direction for Animation at London’s Royal College of Art, and his thesis film, The Eagleman Stag, is currently shortlisted for an Academy Award. In 2011 it premiered at Sundance Film Festival and in 2011 it won the BAFTA for best Animated Short and numerous other accolades, including awards from SXSW, Seattle, LA and Chicago International Film festivals, the AFI as well as showing at over 400 festivals and public screenings. In early 2012, he was awarded a 3-month fellowship in Tokyo by the Japanese Center for Cultural Affairs. During this time, he developed the script for a new short film, Marilyn Myller which is currently in production with Mikey’s commercial representatives Hornet Inc in New York and Blink Ink in London. His first feature film, Zero Greg, is currently in development with Film Four and Warp Films.

Rebecca O’Brien began her film life working at the Edinburgh Film Festival, before starting her film production career on early Channel Four films and dramas, including “My Beautiful Laundrette” (as Location Manager) and the Michael Rosen inspired multi-cultural kids’ series “Everybody Here”. Her producing debut was “Friendship’s Death” written and directed by Peter Wollen and starring Tilda Swinton and Bill Paterson. Her first film with Ken Loach was “Hidden Agenda” and since then they have made twelve feature films together and many other documentary and short projects. In 2002 they formed Sixteen Films. Apart from the Loach/Laverty films, Rebecca also produced the “Bean” movie for Working Title, “Princesa” for Parallax Pictures and has executive produced for Camilla Bray, Ian Knox and Henrique Goldman. Rebecca has been working with Ken Loach on The Spirit of 45, a documentary project about the spirit of unity in Britain in the post-war era, and how this led to the creation of institutions like the NHS. Its a remarkable project, and I’m really looking forward to Rebecca talking about working with Ken on the interviews and research, and how this differed from their more narrative film-making projects.

In 2005 musician Edwyn Collins collapsed unexpectedly suffering a devastating stroke. Left unable to walk or speak, any hope of recovery seemed distant. Last year and against all odds he released the album ‘Losing Sleep’ to huge critical acclaim. In Your Voice, In Your Heart is the story of Edwyn’s journey back. Blurring the line between fiction and documentary we explore the world of Edwyn’s subconscious – a place inhabited by fragmented ideas and forgotten memories. Each story Edwyn tells is another piece of a shattered identity we gradually see re-emerging in front of us. I’m really, really pleased that Edwyn will be at The Story with Ed Lovelace, one half of director duo D.A.R.Y.L who are the creative geniuses behind the film. They’ll be showing clips from the film, and talking about the process of making a film about memory, identity and love.

Alice Bell is an academic and writer interested in the social side of science. She is currently a research fellow at the Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex and before that, was a lecturer in the Science Communication Group at Imperial. She has a column in the UK edition of Popular Science magazine and have written for a range of websites and print-publications including the Guardian, Times Higher Education Magazine and Research Fortnight. She is climate change editor at the New Left Project and co-run the Brain Train podcast. I’m fascinated by the role narrative plays in how we understand science, both as individuals and as a society, so I’m really looking forward to hearing Alice talk at The Story. I’m hoping she’ll talk about her research on how science is represented in childrens’ literature, but frankly, everything she does is fascinating.

And finally, the  host was be Mary Hamilton. Those of you who are The Story regulars will know Mary from her brilliant talk at The Story 2011, where she talked about Zombie LARPS, nerf guns, and Story Machines. She has recently been working at The Guardian, and is incredibly smart about everything from gaming and journalism to culture and society.