The BFI is partnering with StoryFutures Academy on StoryTrails, a unique immersive storytelling experience in which untold stories from the past are brought to life through the magic of the 3D internet. Augmented and virtual reality will be used to reanimate public spaces in towns and cities across the UK, allowing audiences to time-travel to experience untold local histories where they happened. 

StoryTrails is one of 10 projects commissioned for UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK, a groundbreaking UK-wide celebration of creativity in 2022 that will bring people together and reach millions through free, large-scale immersive installations and globally accessible digital experiences in the UK’s most ambitious showcase of creative collaboration.

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StoryTrails is looking for the next generation of UK creative talent. Applications are now open to recruit a team of 50 emerging creative media practitioners, who will receive training and access to state-of-the-art immersive technologies to tell the stories of 15 communities through in new and surprising ways. Successful applicants will receive funding to join a team of high profile creative partners and take part in a mission to bring to life untold stories across the UK. They will collect and curate stories and hidden histories in one of 15 locations across the UK: Blackpool, Bristol, Bradford, Dundee (Scotland), Dumfries (Scotland), Lambeth (London), Lewisham (London), Lincoln, Newport (Wales), Omagh (Northern Ireland), Sheffield, Slough, Swansea (Wales), Swindon and Wolverhampton.

Opportunities include creating augmented reality trails across city centres, building immersive installations that will map the emotional geography of a location, or taking on a professional placement in one of the StoryFutures partner organisations. All roles will involve working as part of a project with unprecedented access to archive material from the BFI, national and regional film archives across the UK, as well as the BBC, with a remit to reimagine our screen heritage for the future. Full training in immersive technology will be provided alongside access to state of the art equipment, production support and production credits for their work.

“Archive film provides unique windows into our past, and when explored at a local level, can be profoundly moving – not only inviting viewers to consider their history, but also their present and future,” says Ben Luxford, Head of UK Audiences at the BFI. “Opening up the rich and diverse screen heritage held in the BFI National Archive and UK regional archives to our most talented creatives, coupled with cutting-edge immersive technology, promises to create truly innovative stories and experiences, which will not only celebrate the people and places of our past, but also push the boundaries of how audiences engage with the moving image.”

StoryTrails will create an innovative approach to storytelling that appeals to a range of audiences in Britain and globally, creating one of the world’s largest immersive storytelling projects. It will change the way we can tell stories about ourselves, putting the promise of the 3D internet into the hands of people where they live and make the virtual and the augmented a magical reality for audiences everywhere.

StoryTrails is also delivered in partnership with broadcaster and filmmaker David Olusoga, the BBC, Uplands Television and leading immersive specialists ISO Design and Nexus Studios. It will be brought to life in The Reading Agency’s national network of libraries and by event- making specialists ProduceUK.

For further details on StoryTrails visit story-trails.com and via Facebook and Instagram @StoryTrailsProject and Twitter @StoryFuturesA