Five Insights on Hacking Films from the Software Developers Who’ve Done It

By Adnaan Wasey
Posted on August 17, 2012

Originally published on the POV Blog

Somewhat fresh off their own Hackathon, POV’s Adnaan Wasey offers filmmakers, developers, and designers some of the advice POV was given for reinventing the documentary for web.

 

Before the POV Hackathon got underway, mentors and veteran engineers shared with the teams some advice born of experience. Here’s what they were told… 

Understand why there are barriers to communication between filmmakers and developers. Each group’s ambitions inherently put them at odds. While filmmakers and creators are thinking about how they can bring novelty and uniqueness to their content, developers are thinking about rule sets and doing all they can to limit exceptions. Each group must understand that these contrasting philosophies could be at the root of a conflict.

Aim for a “minimum viable product.”Teams should set goals around the absolute minimum set of features that serves to show off their intents. The goals must be achievable in a short time frame because without a working prototype it will be difficult to learn how the product will actually be used. 

Never forget your audience. How will users discover the product you are making? As one mentor noted, “Serendipity is not a use case,” meaning users need to be able to intuit how to interact with the product (once they’ve found it).

Choose user experience over technology. Software engineers should focus on the user experience and the subtleties of the interaction, not personal convictions when it comes to software development. The user doesn’t know or care how the product was made — they just want it to work and they want to be treated to an exceptional experience, even if the code is inelegant and can never be re-used for a future project. 

Don’t let great be the enemy of good. As a team, you can easily get sidetracked by a feature that is less important or even outside of agreed-upon goals. After all, a great product that isn’t finished isn’t a product at all.

 
POV Hackathon participants at POV's offices in Brooklyn, NY.

Click here to view the prototypes created at POV Hackathon »

Topics

From our blog

  1. In Remembrance of Bill Siegel

    December 11, 2018

    It is with sadness that we say goodbye to filmmaker and educator Bill Siegel. Bill first became a part of the ITVS family with his award-winning film The Weather Underground, which he co-directed with Sam Green. It tells the story of former University of Chicago students who showed their outrage at the Vietnam War and racism in America by waging a low-level

  2. ITVS Achieves Milestone 100th Sundance Film Festival Selection

    December 3, 2018

    Last week the Sundance Institute announced the showcase of independent feature films selected for the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. We are thrilled to share that four of the selections drawn from a record-breaking 14,259 submissions are ITVS co-productions. It's a milestone moment for ITVS. The 2019 festival entries mark 100 ITVS co-productions

  3. National Issues, Local Impact: How Indie Lens Pop-Up, Filmmakers, and PBS Stations Gather Communities

    October 17, 2018

    Fueling films that spark conversations, and connecting with local audiences, is at the heart of our mission to bring impactful independent documentaries to public media. Indie Lens Pop-Up is the tool in which ITVS filmmakers, PBS member stations, and other local partners connect and engage with their communities. These events translate your film’s