As a Cameroonian-born, New Orleans-schooled, MFA graduate of Columbia University, Fri has worked in film, theatre, publishing, live events and experience design. She now leads business development for the entertainment firm Mycotoo, whose immersive events include the wildly successful Blade Runner 2049 Experience at the 2017 Comic-Con in San Diego and HBO's SXSWestworld. Fri also leads creative direction for Bollywood Parks Dubai and other theme parks around the world.
Sean Stewart is one of the world’s most influential digital storytellers and the co-creator of the genre of Alternate Reality Games. Sean served as the lead writer on the seminal ARGs I Love Bees, and Nine Inch Nail's Year Zero. Sean has written twelve novels, along with the world’s first transmedia novel, the international best-seller Cathy’s Book. He won a Primetime Emmy Award for the transmedia comedy Dirty Work, and designed and wrote the interactive story game Sherlock Holmes: The Art of Detection. Sean previously served as the Creative Director of Xbox Studios, and founded four companies devoted to new kinds of storytelling.
Ida C. Benedetto is an experience designer who sparks new insight through adventure and play. Major projects include the Night Heron Speakeasy and Starbuck’s National Anti-Bias Training. She has researched the design of transformative social experiences by comparing sex parties, funerals, and wilderness trips. Her work has been featured in Businessweek, The New York Times, Fast Company, NPR, and The New Yorker. She is currently a senior designer at SYPartners in New York City.
With over a decade of experience at Walt Disney Imagineering, Asa Kalama now oversees the development of interactive experiences and one of the signature attractions for the recently announced Star Wars Land. With a mandate to develop new tools, technologies and techniques, he had the unique opportunity to contribute his talents to the Park and Resorts, Consumer Products, Interactive and Media Networks business segments. Asa also oversaw Advanced Development’s Narrative Experience Portfolio that focused on interactive storytelling and role-play.
Scott Trowbridge is a global creative leader overseeing the strategic concept development and integration of the Star Wars franchise. He focuses on integration of Star Wars content across all lines of business at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, including merchandise, food & beverage, marketing, and operations. Scott previously led Walt Disney Imagineering Research & Development in finding opportunities to combine various media and technologies in order to tell new stories and create innovative entertainment experiences.
Mikhael Tara Garver has been a leader in immersive and experiential storytelling for the past 18 years. She has created work for brands, agencies, non-profits, and individuals that have taken audiences through underground tunnels, disused spaces, rock clubs, marches, shopping centers, and more. Mikhael was a director on Sleep No More at American Repertory Theater, created The Experiment for the Institute of Contemporary Art, and was Managing Artistic Director of New York City’s Woodshed Collective (KPOP, Empire Travel Agency).
Johanna Koljonen is a writer, broadcaster, and participation designer consulting on experience design with museums, the public sector, and media companies. She is an authority on designing for safety and trust in participation, and lectures on analog experience design, Nordic Larp, and changes in the media landscape. She co-founded the Alibis for Interaction Master Class and the Nordic Larp Talks and is the editor of the Nostradamus Project. In 2011, she received the Swedish Grand Journalism Award in the Innovator of the Year category.
Using her filmmaking background, Tanya dove into 360 storytelling through directing and producing 360 video content. In 2018, Etienne, a sci-fi 360 short she directed was part of NEXT the innovation hub at the Marché du Film de Cannes. In 2017, she co-wrote a 10 episode series for Mexico's Televisa Foundation called Technolochicas, with the goal of raising awareness among young Latinas and their families about opportunities and careers in technology. Tanya is also a professional puppeteer and in 2018 she directed a large scale fire puppet show.
Samantha Gorman specializes in writing for interactive media across genres including expanded cinema, games, and virtual reality. Virtual, Virtual Reality draws from her seven years of experience in developing Virtual Reality at Brown University’s CAVE VR studio. In addition to running Tender Claws, Samantha is a Ph.D. research fellow in Media Arts and Practice at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts.
Jenni Magee-Cook is an Emmy-winning producer in animated and live-action film. As Head of Production at Dreamscape Immersive, Jenni produced their debut free-roaming VR experience Alien Zoo. She is continuing to work several upcoming productions in Dreamscape's 2018 slate.
Jae Hee Lee is the co-founder of Wildrence, a design studio that creates seamless interactive experiences through the combination of technology and touchable environments. In 2014, she also co-founded Public Matter; her work has been showcased and featured at the TED conference in Vancouver, New York Festival of Lights, Redbull, the Centre for Social Innovation. Jae is interested in how design can be used as a tool to impact the relationship between humans and space across multiple levels of scale, from the smallest detail to the whole picture. Using her successful experience as an interactive designer and background in architecture, she creates immersive worlds that inspire imagination and creative play.
Yvonne Chang is the co-founder of Wildrence, a design studio that creates seamless interactive experiences through the combination of technology and touchable environments. In 2014, she also co-founded Public Matter; her work has been showcased and featured at the TED conference in Vancouver, New York Festival of Lights, Redbull, the Centre for Social Innovation. Yvonne believes in awakening human interaction within a designed environment by leveraging the power of storytelling, sensory engagement, and a sense of adventure. By combining her professional training in architecture and an expert eye for tactile details, Yvonne is able to design and create these intimate and sensory driven experiences.
A former Disney Imagineer, Stephanie has been creating groundbreaking immersive projects for two decades. Her immersive work has been featured at Future of Storytelling, Tribeca Film Festival, and JauntVR. Stephanie has spoken on immersive topics at SIGGRAPH, IEEE, and the World Immersion Forum. She has collaborated with GoogleVR, Facebook/Oculus, NYU Future Realities Lab, led Yale’s Blended Reality research group and wrote the upcoming book The Storyplex: Immersive Narratives in the Age of Storytelling.
Haley is co-artistic director of Strange Bird Immersive, a Houston-based immersive theatre company devoted to delivering truth inside imaginary experiences. She co-created and performs in The Man From Beyond: Houdini Séance Escape Room, uniting an escape room with theatre. Haley is the also author of Immersology, a blog dedicated to the theory and practice of immersive theatre.
J. Cameron is the co-artistic director of Strange Bird Immersive, and created and built much of The Man From Beyond, from scenic design to interactive furniture to image recognition to the interactive synchronized light, sound, and video systems. He wrote the dialogue in the script as well as most of the 10,000 lines of computer code that run The Man From Beyond, and is a regular member of the cast.
Darren Lynn Bousman began his career directing commercials and music videos and rose to fame as the director of Saw II, Saw III, and Saw IV. After the Saw films, Darren went on to direct and produce Repo! The Genetic Opera, touring the film around North America in the vein of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. In 2016, Darren, alongside long-time collaborator Clint Sears, opened the immersive project The Tension Experience which lasted almost ten months and featured a multi-platform fractured narrative.
Clint Sears is the co-creator of The Tension Experience and responsible for the thousand plus pages behind the year long alternate reality game and three hour live immersive experience. Clint has a marketing and advertising background, but fell into his current writing career after he sold a concept for six figures in a development deal. Clint has also written for several features including the most recent, St. Agatha, which is currently receiving rave reviews on the festival circuit.
Gordon Bijelonic is the producer behind The Tension Experience. He co-produced his first film in 1997, Strays, co-starring, written, and directed by a young Vin Diesel. Bijelonic continued to nurture this relationship, working for Diesel's production company as a senior executive for 10 years, producing works such as Fast and the Furious, XXX, A Man Apart, and The Chronicles of Riddick. Gordon has produced over 40 films, and has been responsible for playing a key role in the collective structured financing of over 100 million production dollars.
Gemma is a British artist whose work has been at the forefront of immersive practice since 2000. She is a founder member of Shunt with whom she created shows for the National Theatre (including cult-hit Tropicana) and ran the iconic Shunt Lounge club. Her most recent large-scale production was Kingdom Come for the Royal Shakespeare Company. Smaller scale works made with Silvia Mercuriali, superimposing fictions onto real landscapes, have toured internationally.
Marc is a co-founder of the full-service agency Giant Spoon. This year, Giant Spoon became one of the first agencies to take home gold at the Cannes Lions show for the success of HBO’s Westworld experiential activation at SXSW. Marc created the framework for the agency’s approach to large-scale brand experiences that are setting new standards across the industry.
David has worked for over 30 years as a producer, director, writer and executive, including films as Scent of a Woman and Meet Joe Black; he has also written, produced and directed several plays. David was one of the original Creative Directors of Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi and was the Lead Creative Director for Bollywood Parks. David has directed the live haunt event Dark Harbor, and has written and directed major live marketing activations including Blade Runner 2049, Happytime Murders and Westworld.
We're delighted that a number of our luminary guests from last year's Summit will be returning as community liaisons. As attendees to the 2019 Summit, you'll have access to small-group conversations with accomplished creators such as: