The immersive-storytelling community lost a visionary figure earlier this month with the sudden passing of Brian Clark. The 46-year-old head of GMD Studios, a New York–based experience design firm, was a catalyst for the Film Society of Lincoln Center expanding its Convergence Program for interactive content and a key figure in shaping the discussion about “participatory storytelling.” In honor of our friend, and with the support of Brian’s family, the Film Society is proud to announce the Brian Clark Fund. Brian was many things to many people, but the one word that seems to come up most consistently across the immersive-storytelling community is “mentor.” All contributions will go towards Convergence, and will help to establish a mentorship program in Brian’s name to provide guidance to emerging artists and creators.
Convergence Programmer Matt Bolish recalls Brian Clark’s contributions to the foundation of the program:
In the fall of 2011, the Film Society took a chance. The powers that be, either in a fit of kindness or a bid to get me off their backs, bought into the idea that we should do something to explore how technology was reshaping the media landscape. Media, and the way audiences consume it, is and will always be a thing in flux and one word in particular dominated the conversation: “Transmedia.”
“Before we get started,” said my colleague Eugene Hernandez, “we need to talk to Brian.” He was talking about Brian Clark, a co-founder of Indiewire and a storyteller in his own right.
I was familiar with Brian’s work with alternate-reality games—epic lightning-in-a-bottle experiences that blurred the line between digital and physical worlds, like “The Art of the Heist” and “Eldritch Errors,” but I still expected this meeting to be like all the others we’d lined up in preparation for the rollout of our nascent transmedia program.
I was wrong.
The meeting was anything but normal. Our conversation careened from film history to philosophy to business strategy. We talked about world-building and dissected already tired buzzwords, and over drinks we changed the course of our developing program. It’s impossible to overstate how important Brian was during that first year of Convergence (“Beyond the Screen”); he gave generously of his time and his Rolodex—for if Brian Clark had a superpower it was that he seemed to know everyone.
In the years that followed, Brian was a staple at our events both as a leading participant and an engaged audience member. His passion for a well-told story was inspiring and his eagerness to discuss the state of the art laid the groundwork for some memorable evenings in our Film Center on West 65th Street. Every summer we made a point to talk about the New York Film Festival and what was on deck for the latest edition of Convergence. I went into these meetings certain I had it all in place only to leave with a handful of “must-have” events and a list of people I just had to meet.
Born December 5, 1968 in Ames, IA, Brian Clark studied in Missouri and launched his company in Florida before settling in New York. He passed away in NYC surrounded by family and friends on July 2 after a brief battle with cancer. Like many people blessed to be part of his orbit, I was stunned and deeply saddened. That night years ago I’d been lucky enough to find an ally and something of a kindred spirit… a mentor. With his help and guidance, we set something into motion that I’d like to think has, and will continue to have, a profound effect on audiences and artists alike.
The impact Brian has had on our work here at the Film Society of Lincoln Center cannot be overlooked and will not be forgotten as Convergence continues to evolve. A service for Brian is being held this weekend in Lee’s Summit, MO, and his friends and colleagues are planning a memorial service in New York City for later this summer.
Thank you, Brian, for your guidance, your generosity, and your time.
Make a contribution to the Brian Clark Fund here.