Bordwell On The Challenge Of Transmedia Storytelling

David Bordwell had a great post on his blog pointing out both the historical precedents for transmedia storytelling and the problems inherent in it. You should definitely read the whole thing, but this gives you a nice taste:

At this point someone usually says that interactive storytelling allows the filmmaker to surrender some control to the viewer, who is empowered to choose her own adventure. This notion is worth a long blog entry in itself, so I’ll simply assert without proof: Storytelling is crucially all about control. It sometimes obliges the viewer to take adventures she could not imagine. Storytelling is artistic tyranny, and not always benevolent.

Another drawback to shifting a story among platforms: art works gain strength by having firm boundaries. A movie’s opening deserves to be treated as a distinct portal, a privileged point of access, a punctual moment at which we can take a breath and plunge into the story world. Likewise, the closing ought to be palpable, even if it’s a diminuendo or an unresolved chord. The special thrill of beginning and ending can be vitiated if we come to see the first shots as just continuations of the webisode, and closing images as something to be stitched to more stuff unfolding online. There’s a reason that pictures have frames.

Leaving Some Things Unexplained

When did American movies start trying to clarify absolutely everything? What is our national obsession with trying to provide a psychological explanation for all characters' behavior? If you ask me, I think we have gone overboard. Way overboard. Time to leave that practice behind.

It's refreshing to see a few films recently start to abandon this practice. Miyazaki's PONYO did not try to explain the magic (at least in the version released Stateside). Neil Blomkamp's DISTRICT 9 did not try to explain why the aliens landed here or how people learned their language.
It is fun for the viewer to come up with their own explanations, to discuss these possibilities with their friends. We certainly don't know everything about our world and leaving some gaps in the narrative feels truer as a result.
David Bordwell touched upon the need for spaces in his great essay "Now Leaving From Platform 1" where he explores the hopes of expanding the narrative (and yes, okay, I am referenced therein). Our storytellers really need to take it to heart. It's curious that both of these examples come from abroad.
You can even see Bronkamp employing this strategy in the short film that launched his feature: "ALIVE IN JOBERG".