Uses This

Interview

What do people use to get stuff done?

Carrie Cutforth-Young

Carrie Cutforth-Young

Professional storyteller, producer, community builder

Who are you, and what do you do?

I tell stories across multiple media that are larger than the individual media components (video, text, performance, and so on). I develop audiences for other people's properties using social media and marketing but with fiction. Some call this transmedia storytelling.

I am also very active in community building for transmedia and web series in Toronto, across Canada and internationally.

What hardware do you use?

Hardware is a hard term with complex definite edges. As a transmedia storyteller, I deal with the constant tension of binaries between analogue and digital technologies, the meatspace and "cyberspace" (ahaha - what a word!), the corporeal and the cerebral.

That being said: I use some sucky tools - a crappy Samsung laptop to do much of my work. All my media type friends make fun of my lack of Mac 'appliances'. I did recently win an iPad mini and it's quickly become My New Best Friend. So now I'm much less resistant to getting a Mac in the future for my main work (sooner than later).

For video I use a Rebel T3i which I adore. Nothing looks bad filming on it. For sound, I like the Zoom recorder since I only mostly need to capture a bit of dialogue.

In addition, I like to tell stories using old technologies in unexpected ways in particular: that blending of digital superimposed on analogue being a fave of mine. I've told stories with old Kodak slide projectors (on rocking chairs for a performative piece), stories that include underwear, stories on polaroid film, and so on. I use all the normal artist tools for painting, sculpting, bookbinding, and so on... are these hardware technologies? I guess you could ask Foucault about that.

And what software?

Software is a soft term with fuzzy edges.

I use a lot of image manipulation software. Photoshop of course, but recently discovered that GIMP can do some things really well that Photoshop cannot. With my iPad, I've fallen in love with an app called Procreate that allows me to digitally paint the way I draw – a software I've been waiting for with this kind of responsiveness for years. Of course as a writer: I use Microsoft Word quite a bit. Dictionaries and thesauruses (thesaurusi???).

I prefer to hire someone to edit video than do it myself. Occasionally I have to code, and I hate it and am very bad at it but can duct tape a bit of bad code together when needed. I tend to use Wordpress a lot, which I resent but it's one of those things you can't avoid in this line of work. Don't get me started on spreadsheets.

Much of audience dev takes place on social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. I'm getting tired of having to figure out the latest popular platform and beginning to feel like an old fogey about it. At the same time, Facebook Pages's days as being a viable audience dev platform for indie productions are almost all but over as far as I'm concerned.

I've tried implementing every group organizational/project management software in existence with little success. People prefer clunky email and Facebook messaging over anything that is remotely efficient, I have found.

Not to be overlooked is one's internal programming. Since many of the stories I'm a part of or am the creator of rely on creating audience participatory spectacles for live events, often I have to think of myself as a Ringmaster in these situations. Performative storytelling in a theatrical aspect - ARGs and immersive theatrical experiences - calls for a particular skill at facilitating audience engagement. This requires a lot of push/pull skills: charisma, knowing when to be bombastic, a leader, but also when to be passive and let the "audience" jump into the foray and fill the gaps in play. It's not really acting at all... more like grifting with informed consent. So my skillset and brains is a sort of software I employ. My brain is soft anyways.

What would be your dream setup?

I'm always looking on the horizon for the next way to tell stories in ways that others haven't considered, particularly as new technologies emerge. Right now I'm most interested not even in AR technologies and how they will inform storytelling with an overlay of digital on lenses, but how even our environmental surfaces will be overlaid with sensors as a dusting of digital snowflakes. How will storytelling look then when there is no longer the divide between digital and analogue environments, and our reality is now a constant overlay of fictionalized and manipulating elements? And how will stories live and proliferate in reserved and dedicated 'disconnected' spaces?

So dream setup? A holodeck-type office I guess. A teleporter would be nice too.

I also have a dream setting up a transmedia residency in which all my favourite people around the world would be invited to stay for six weeks and do whatever the fuck they wanted because the rarest commodity all of us have is time. No application process, just come and do or not do and I would get to hang out watching them do or not do it.

Of course I suffer from the Curse of the Indie Creator in which just because I can do a bit of everything being the polymath I am, doesn't mean I SHOULD be doing everything, and burnout is always a threat. Ideally, I'd like to clone myself and become an unstoppable army of creativity – but that is probably a few years off yet. As always, I'm forced to be more and more the executive producer on things just in order to tell the kinds of stories I'd like to tell, but that presents the problem that I no longer have time for the actual storytelling fun of it.

Previously: / Next up: