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World Building Live: The Corner

19.02.2018 - Lewis Akenji, Megan Elliott, Grace Lee, Alex McDowell, moderated by Juan DiazB

World Building is an iterative and collaborative narrative practice, first developed by production designer Alex McDowell for Minority Report and Fight Club, in which the deep understanding of a world precedes the telling of a story. A group of interdisciplinary experts, Talents and the audience engage in a handson, live World Building session to holistically visualise and comprehend the stories that will literally emerge on street corners in future cities. Considering the political climate, migratory dynamics, environmental conditions and lifestyle, the group investigates this particular space of conjunction, intersection and change of direction in order to develop alternate future narratives for films and beyond.


Lewis Akenji

photo of Lewis Akenji
Lewis Akenji is Director for Sustainable Consumption and Production at the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies. He leads the sustainable and future lifestyles team as well as projects on resources and global governance. He has consulted with UN agencies, the Asian and African Development Banks and the European Commission. He has a background in Sustainable Resource Management (Munich), Environmental Diplomacy (Geneva) and Consumer Economics (Helsinki).

Megan Elliott

photo of Megan Elliott
Megan Elliott is the founding director of the Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts, an interdisciplinary programme that addresses the relationship between technology, creativity and entrepreneurship. She is the co-founder of X Media Lab, an internationally acclaimed think tank and creative workshop which she took to 14 countries and 22 cities around the world. Previously, she was the Executive Director of the Australian Writers’ Guild.

Grace Lee

photo of Grace Lee
Grace Lee is an award-winning filmmaker based in Los Angeles. Her directing credits include the Peabody-winning documentary AMERICAN REVOLUTIONARY: THE EVOLUTION OF GRACE LEE BOGGS, the Emmy-nominated MAKERS: WOMEN IN POLITICS and the feature film JANEANE FROM DES MOINES which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. She is a former Sundance Institute Fellow and one of the co-founders of the Asian American Documentary Network (A-Doc).

Alex McDowell

photo of Alex McDowell
Alex McDowell RDI is a narrative designer working at the intersection of design, technology and storytelling. He is the founder and creative director of Experimental Design; a Professor of Practice at the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts; and Director of the USC World Building Institute. He has 30 years’ experience as a production designer and has worked with David Fincher, Steven Spielberg, Terry Gilliam, and Anthony Minghella, among others.

Moderated by

Juan DiazB

photo of Juan DiazB

Juan DiazB is a director, writer and narrative designer. He is the European Director of the World Building Institute, a research unit at the University of Southern California focusing on the future of narrative media. He is also the founder and creative director of Kosmology, a creative studio that develops multi-platform projects including TORPOR, a reflection on lifestyle and environmental degradation, and the award-winning music, dance, film and transmedia project WE ARE THE HEAT.