What Is Immersive Storytelling? – Margaret Kerrison

Film Courage: How do you define story?

Margaret Kerrison, Immersive Storyteller, Narrative Director and Writer: A story transports me to a different place, to a different world, to a world and a life and meeting new characters that immerse me in an entirely new experience. I think about some of the early storytellers in my life like my grandmother who was an oral storyteller and she would tell us stories when we were kids about her life and how she met her husband, stories of our youth when we were children. I like to think of story as there are stories that are nostalgic with a beginning, middle and an end but when I think about stories in general, they’re a great format, no matter what kind of medium it is, a place to be transported into a world and characters that you might not know. It’s a way for you to walk in someone else’s shoes, to have empathy for another character and to see someone else’s life through their eyes. I think that’s extremely important for us as human beings and living in the society that we live in today to be able to hear other people’s stories through their own voices, through their unique perspectives, to really appreciate, understand, empathize with how they see the world. That’s a roundabout answer but story transports you.

Film Courage: What is immersive storytelling?

Margaret: Immersive storytelling, there’s many various definitions for this, but in my mind it’s using tools and techniques to immerse a guest, a participant, an audience member into an immersive world where they use all of their senses in order to immerse themselves in a particular world or story. When I think about immersive storytelling some of the most successful ones out there, they are the ones that really think about, not just the visual or the audio storytelling, but in what you touch and taste and feel and have that interaction between perhaps different people or different elements or objects that maybe you can pick up, that you can explore and discover and to feel like you’re immersed in a world or an environment that you may not necessarily be familiar with but you have that suspension of disbelief to allow the storyteller, the creator to take you there, to really immerse you in that place to play, to have permission to engage and immerse yourself in something that you wouldn’t normally in your regular lives. To be immersed in that story and feeling like you’re a part of it, feeling that you’re an important part of it is extremely important, that you’re not just a spectator, that you are an engaged, active participant in that story. There are different kinds of immersive storytelling, ones where you do come into a space and it’s extremely visual and there’s music and all of that but you walk around like you’re perhaps a ghost or you don’t have any effect to the environment…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).

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Born in Indonesia and raised in Singapore, Margaret Kerrison received her Master of Fine Arts degree in Screenwriting from the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts. Her career spans television, film, digital media, games, brand storytelling, location-based entertainment, and immersive experiences. She has worked as a Story Lead, Story Consultant, and Writer for multiple projects around the world, including Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Star Wars: Launch Bay, Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, Avengers Campus, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, National Geographic HQ, and the NASA Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex’s Journey to Mars: Explorers Wanted. She was the writer for five projects that won Themed Entertainment Association (THEA) Awards. She has appeared in the Disney+ series Behind the Attraction, the Freeform television special Star Wars: Galaxy‘s Edge – Adventure Awaits, and the online educational program Imagineering in a Box. She was a Disney Imagineer from 2014-2021. She is currently a Sr. Experiential Creative Lead at Airbnb. Immersive Storytelling for Real and Imagined Worlds – A Writer’s Guide is her first book.






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