Interactive Documentary Production and Societal Impact: The Case of Field Trip


Over the last two decades, storytellers have engaged in an effervescent period of experimentation and innovation in storytelling. In the realm of documentary, makers have adopted, combined and developed web technologies to reveal complex and multi-perspective stories. This doctoral dissertation explores how independent authors, designers and coders coalesce to make and circulate interactive documentary (i-doc). The thesis is based on a research-creation approach which includes an empirical case study of Field Trip (2019)—a 92-minute i-doc produced by a small team in Berlin, which includes the author. It is further informed by i-docs produced in the last decade in Canada and Germany, and builds upon two peer reviewed journal articles published in 2018 and 2020, and a book chapter to be published in 2021. The thesis concentrates on i-doc making from a production studies perspective. It surfaces the common characteristics of interactive documentary and uses the analytic framework of media innovations (Dogruel, 2014) to contextualise the practice. The conceptual focus lies on the notion of impact of i-doc storytelling, which the thesis seeks to critically deconstruct, problematise, and discuss. Impact is a widely used term in digital storytelling practice and theory. It means different things to different stakeholders in the storytelling sector, thereby leading to an expectation gap. Using multi-method research, including analytic autoethnography (Anderson, 2006) and constructivist grounded theory (Charmaz, 1995), the dissertation identifies a number of types of impact. The findings point to the importance of balancing impact expectations related to the story, with those related to the production process. This is particularly relevant, the study finds, for securing a sustainable innovation culture in the digital storytelling sector. By articulating a societal impact framework, the dissertation contributes to a better understanding of the cultural value of contemporary interactive storytelling practice.
Preferred Citation
Dubois, Frédéric: Interactive Documentary Production and Societal Impact: The Case of Field Trip. Potsdam: Filmuniversität Babelsberg KONRAD WOLF 2021. DOI:
 author = {Dubois, Frédéric},
 title = {Interactive Documentary Production and Societal Impact: The Case of Field Trip},
 year = 2021,
 doi = "\url{}",
 address = {Potsdam},
 publisher = {Filmuniversität Babelsberg KONRAD WOLF},
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