The Corner’s Hollywood Moment

This post is by MQ2 grantee Jenny Asarnow:

I was honored to present at the AFI Digifest last Thursday.

A few things signalled right away that this was not going to be like the low key public radio conferences I’d been to in the past. I got off the bus on Hollywood Boulevard stepped over the star studded sidewalk and walked into the Mann Chinese Theater.

The theater was covered in red velvet. It struck me that I was going to speak there. I was going to explain how I created The Corner to hundreds of people in cushioned seats. We were going to see Inye Wokoma’s photographs for The Corner on a gigantic movie screen! We were going to hear The Corner’s audio on movie theater speakers! Yes. I was excited.

As far as I know I was the only public radio producer at the AFI Digifest. Most of the crowd seemed to be TV (public and commercial), movie, game and digital media producers, strategizers and monetizers. It was a whole new world for me, and it was fascinating.

Sixteen projects presented their work. Some highlights for me – the Interview Project on, which is a collection of intimate interviews with ordinary people around the country. They’re going to start letting viewers submit their own videos and vote on their favorites.

There was an application from a group called ScrollMotion that looks exactly like a flip book, except it’s on the iPhone. There was a smart phone for farmers in West Africa that gives them up-to-date prices for the produce they sell, so they don’t get ripped off by middlemen. I learned what Augmented Reality is and heard how a special effects sequence of the world collapsing in the movie 2012 was made (it involved a group of 100 people and a very long time).

I was proud that the Corner and MQ2 was included in this group of innovators. I showed a video Katina made highlighting what all of the MQ2 projects are doing to push public media in new directions. Then I explained how we built a public art installation and hacked together an interactive Skype phone system to invite neighbors to participate in telling the story of 23rd and Union. It was definitely my biggest public speaking engagement yet, but I wasn’t too terrified. Only my hand shook.

There is a huge and constantly changing media world out there. The main thing I took away from the conference is there is an ever-expanding set of tools that we can use to tell and share stories, and I hope those of us in public media will keep trying new ones.