Lots of crew faces with 'YOU?' over their eyes

Co-create stories with us!

By | Design, Narrative, Research | No Comments

We want you to sign up for our co-creation workshops, so you can help us make dangerously fun stories you’ll love. We’re pioneering a new technique in making theatre, film and virtual reality. We call it audience-centred storytelling, and it’s all about getting our audience in before a word is written, and testing our ideas with you. Ultimately, we want to create stories you’ll love, and the easiest way to do it is to ask! http://eepurl.com/lF2O9

The usual way to make a piece of art is to have an idea, and then use a huge amount of physical and emotional effort to make it. Then, once it’s finished, hope the world wants to see it. Most of the time, sadly, the world is a cruel butthead and does not want to see it. So we took the big fat brains of smarter people in the worlds of human-centred design, lean, agile and design thinking, smooshed their techniques together and created audience-centred storytelling.

We have an idea, and we take it to a diverse group of people who will ultimately be our audience. We show you our idea in its embryonic form, and seek your feedback. At the same time we find out what you, our audience wants, likes, needs from entertainment. We use that feedback to reiterate or redraft our idea in its simplest form. Rinse and repeat until we’ve developed a concept we know you like and will watch. We continue to advance the concept stage by stage with our audience until it’s released.

Why go to the ridiculous amount of effort making movies, theatre and virtual reality unless we know you wanna see ’em? So, let’s find out what you think is dangerously fun. Sign up to our list: we only ever use it to offer opportunities to co-create with us.

If you have any questions, ask Simon J Green via simon@thexgene.com or Messenger (voice messages welcome!)


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IMAGE: Astronaut embarking on journey

Audience-Centred Storytelling

By | Innovation, Narrative, Research | No Comments

Narrative concepts are often developed in a bubble. The writer comes up with an idea and away the team goes, often only asking at the very end, “Does anyone actually want to see this?”

IMAGE: a straight line with Idea, through production to "Will anyone want this?" Old Fashioned Linear Concept Dev
Industries like technology, software and product design approach what they do very differently.

IMAGE: a cycle showing an idea, tested against who might want it, what they like, leading to change and adapting. Iterative Concept Development

Audience-centred storytelling uses human-centred design principles (a mix of UX, Design Thinking and Lean methodologies) to bring the audience in from day one, before a single word is written, to test the idea of a creative team. The best creatives know that a brief, or some sort of constraint is needed. it’s against this constraint that creativity is used in order to overcome those limitations. Give someone a blank piece of paper and say, “Be creative” and everyone is in for a world of hurt.

Orson welles quote The Enemy of Art is the Absence of Limitations

The X Gene is pioneering what it calls Audience-Centred Storytelling, working with other pioneering geniuses like Kylie Eddy at Lean Filmmaking, meaningful strategic designers Huddle, and forward thinking distributors The Backlot Studios to prototype, test and reiterate the steps and processes that let us either take a concept and ensure it’s gonna connect with a valuable audience, or start with a valuable audience and get them to help us create a story they’ll love.

IMAGE: 8 upper case H letters arranged in a circle to form the Huddle logo

We Moved Into Huddle!

By | Narrative | No Comments

Hello friends, Romans, country-people: we moved! The X Gene is now based out of Huddle, Level 6 90 Williams Street, Melbourne. After doing some work with Huddle, and knowing their fine people for a few years, the awesome team discussed the need for video and digital communication in their work. Simon, at the same time, had been going through the stages of learning about human-centred design through their Huddle Academy that we suggest you check out to get better and more open about the future of how we work and think. The rad thing about these Huddlers is they really believe in taking the world head on; their knowing the adventurous experiments we’re doing and radical changes The X Gene and Simon want to make, they invited us to join them so that they could learn from us, we from them, and together mix all the colours to create rainbows.

One of the reasons we looked for a space is we’re now working so hard and so regularly on our long form narrative work in film, web and 360 video, we needed a place the various teams could meet together, put things on walls and be immersed in the projects. That’s what we’re doing here, bringing together these incredible technologists, creatives, communicators and innovators to what we like to think of as The Tipping Point. The goal of The X Gene is to change the screen industry into an open, international, financially sustainable powerhouse bringing compelling stories to niche audiences around the globe. This is the place to start that mission in earnest.

IMAGE: Desk setup at Huddle, with two monitors showing images from Pixar films
The longer story of how we got here starts with Paul Fairhead – Paul was the manager of Kindred Studios, our old digs. One of our collaborators and friends Ben McEwing had been in Huddle for a while, which is how we met their fab peeps, and when Paul asked if we’d heard of the place, we leapt forward with enthusiasm that it’s exactly where Paul would really shine. He got the job, we kept chatting and a couple years later, here we are.

It’s really beautiful seeing Paul, as general manager of Huddle, do what he was born to do. This company is global, they do incredible things with strategic human-design of servicee, products and business. They generally want to untangle the most complex problems of we people. Can’t wait to see what we cook up together.
IMAGE: Front of Huddle Scottish House, grand old columns and tan brick facade

Nail in the wall text written in texta

The Nail in the Wall

By | Narrative | No Comments

It’s that time of year: funding responses. At the end of last year and for all of 2016 so far, I’ve been submitting work to grants and funds. After nearly ten years of corporate and advertising work, I’m finally serious about growing The X Gene into a fully fledged narrative screen production company. We’ve done stuff before. Short films, TV productions, theatre and web. All of it was around the edges until now.

When I started out of film school, I thought it prudent to get good at my craft before I embarked on a feature film sized project. I also saw how ridiculously tight, competitive and limiting government funding is. So we started Green Rabbit and then I started The X Gene to do two things: get good at producing, and make connections with the private sector. Filmmaking is way more of a business than the other arts, and alternative sources of money, multiple revenue streams, are the life blood of business.

So with our feature film projects front and centre, I’ve been open to every possible revenue stream available to us. Australia Council, Film Victoria, Creative Victoria, Screen Australia, AMP Tomorrow Fund, Awesome Foundation, micro grants, oh my. Any possibility has been seized upon. I’ve also started pitching to potential private investors and brands, but right now I’m in the opening week of when all these established grants bodies email a yay or nay.

There’s a crazy number of articles on ArtsHub about how to deal with rejection, so I’m bracing myself for some rough thumps to the old ego, some fists in the hopes and dreams department. I just remember what Stephen King says in his book On Writing:

“By the time I was fourteen the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and went on writing.”

Who Is This Actor from ‘How To Talk Australians’?

By | Freelancer, Narrative | No Comments

We’re trying to track down the name of this actor from the web series How To Talk Australians. We can’t find a full credit list. We’d love to talk to her about a role in something we’re making. Actors of Australia, you are legion and networked! ASSEMBLE! If you know who the actor is, comment on the post, linked below.


Who is this actor

Finalists at Open Channel Pitching Contest

Outta Ammo, Animated Feature Finalist

By | Narrative | No Comments

We didn’t win, but got great feedback on Outta Ammo, our animated feature film based on BULLET: A Superhero Comedy. The Australian Directors Guild and a member of the NZ Film Commission connected with us, are helping out, and a producer from How To Speak Australians was a fan.