Before Modern Family‘s “Connection Lost” episode there was a little known short film produced by Geoffresh Inc. that experiemented with storytelling as told through Mac back in 2012.
That’s right, yours truly did it first.
What was it about Wednesday night’s episode that captured everyone’s attention? Was it that we could all relate to the chaos going on for the characters? Or was it that we could relate to the technology? For us here at Geoffresh Inc., watching the episode on our large Thunderbolt Mac display felt very meta, watching a story told on a screen within the same screen we use in our everyday life. We’re seeing the Facetime window open up and are getting excited as if we just spotted a best friend guest starring.
Co-creator and executive producer Steve Levitan said “Connections Lost” was filmed entirely using iPhones and other Apple devices. This isn’t the first time that an iPhone was used to film video, but it is one of the first times real digital interaction over Facetime was captured.
What’s the future of storytelling now that Modern Family broke some ground for this new digital storytelling device? I think we should come to expect more video mediums following Modern Family’s example, seamlessly integrating desktop, tablet, and phone screens as if they are our own. What is clever about this storytelling device is how it blurs the lines, breaking the fourth-wall that separates the audience from the story.
Some skeptics see the Modern Family episode as a great example of native advertising, which is a form of product placement that integrates the product into the story in a way that seems natural and relevant to the setting. The truth of the matter is that the idea for the episode came naturally from one of the co-creators who is a fan of Apple products. The episode was not paid for by Apple, it was not a partnership deal for their brand to get a spot, but when they found out about the episode, Apple gifted the show some free Apple gear to show their appreciation and to help tell the story with the latest Apple products.
The future of storytelling in all industries is headed in the digital direction, but is still dependent on audience. Storytelling is one of our oldest artforms, and no matter how it changes in form or technique, audience interest or engagement will always be the force that keeps it alive and stimulates its evolution.
This article originally appeared in Geoffresh Inc.
Facetime with Love was a short film produced during my graduate school studies, as part of a larger project called Love Is In the Letter.