We are NuNam. We are a creative duo (with a strong focus on filmmaking) working on an interactive webdocumentary called "The Golden Forest".
For this project we partner with:
Clint Beharry as our (interactive) designer.
Emmy Oost (Cassette for Timescapes) as producer.
"Short overview" of the project:
Each suicide is a personal tragedy that prematurely takes the life of an individual and has a continuing ripple effect, dramatically affecting the lives of families, friends and communities. Every year, more than 800, 000 people die by suicide – one person every 40 seconds. It is a public health issue that affects communities, provinces and entire countries.
Estimates say that after each suicide an average of ten to fifteen relatives stay behind. The process of grieving of immediate relatives (close family and friends) after a suicide is destructive, long and isolating. The process of grieving for indirect relatives (colleagues, neighbours and acquaintances) can be at least disruptive.
The Golden Forest shows how a documentary in an interactive context can be a socially innovative tool. In a far-reaching combination of storytelling and ‘user experience’, The Golden Forest aims both at a personal (process of coping) as a social impact (breaking taboos)
A documentary that heals
The Golden Forest tells the story of 6 persons bereaved by suicide in 6 different countries and cultures. How did they deal with the loss of their loved one? What obstacles did they have to conquer during their complicated process of grieving? How did their surroundings react to it? How did they succeed in becoming reconciled with reality and in giving meaning to their lives?
The six stories discuss key moments from their own process of grieving. The characters are selected in such a way that together they grasp all aspects of this process. These range from the last moments with the deceased, the why-question, the combination of feelings such as blame, fear, disbelief, relief, shame, suicide thoughts of themselves, and the reactions of the surroundings (stigma, discomfort…)
The process of grieving an sich is only a first layer and an access to discuss deeper topics. By means of the six stories, this documentary wants to uncover the more global socio-cultural, economic and geographical tendencies in connection to suicide, and reflect on them.
The interactive tool
The Golden Forest is not only documentary in character, it is, at the same time, by its interactive form, an ad hoc and anonymous tool. On their way through the world of The Golden Forest, users who go through a process of grieving themselves will be given not only information, but also help and practical tools to experience their process of grieving in a constructive way.
The need for a tool
Scientific research shows how important help and talk groups are for relatives to deal with a trauma like this. People learn from each other by sharing experiences and feelings. In that way they discover that what they experience and feel exactly is very normal, and that other people go through the same stages in their process of grieving. Unfortunately, these therapeutic groups are not always available, and moreover they have some limitations. Exactly these limitations this interactive tool wants to address.
Not everyone feels comfortable enough to go to such meetings. (Especially relatives who saw that the deceased could not be helped by ‘therapeutic institutions’ can be rather negative towards help groups.)
Not everyone has access to this kind of help. The reason can be geographical (distance), or economic, or because of social pressure, stigma.
A third problem consists in the fact that these meetings are held at specific moments. These are not always possible for the person, or in accordance with his need to go.
With the emergence of the Internet, there are now additional possibilities for sharing
experiences, for example, through participating in Internet forums. The few studies
examining online support for the bereaved by suicide showed that offering help,
sharing experiences, and discussing taboo topics seem to be the most important
features of these groups.
BUT support organisations point to the fact that far more (very) negative grief
reactions (45%) were disclosed in the online support groups than positive grief
reactions (14%). People tend to infect each other with negative feelings. This is the
reason why so many public fora or heavily curated or, if not, “black holes of grief”.
This interactive counters this problem by its nature. The whole project will give
access to the beneficial features of online forums but its interactivity is built in such a
way that “the sharing component” is to be “charged with positivity”. This is specifically tackled by the digital concept “tree of memories”…
How does it work?
Going through the stories the user will be confronted with certain themes. He will get the opportunity to hear the experiences of other people. And ultimately he will get to know where these feelings come from, what they mean, and how he can deal with them. He will be activated to reflect on them, and be given the tools to get started. These tools are interwoven with the journey and the fictional world, and they drive the story forward.
In short, through the stories on your way, your resilience is stimulated again and built because you are being reached the necessary handles.
The Tree of Memories
One of the central interactive tools that we offer is The Tree of Memories. Users can grow a ‘tree of memories’, in which they can save precious memories (in the form of images, audio, text etc). They will be able to have their tree flourish by means of the right gamification elements and therapeutic assignments.
On micro level the tree of memories is also a way to start a dialogue -between friends, communities. People can invite each other to contribute to a tree. By implementing the appropriate gamification methods and a social media strategy, we make sure that the scope of the tree of life reaches far beyond the limits of the website.
That brings us to the macro level, because that tree doesn’t stand alone. A lot of people will remember their own deceased, and in that way a virtual wood will originate. Each tree will be one of many. And this wood will be a fictional place of collecting and remembering. Like this we want to show the user in a very visual and clear way that he is not alone, that many people go through difficult times and share similar experiences. We want to create a symbolic forest that offers hope and strength to relatives.
We already have good idea about the content and themes of the stories. But to make this project work we strongly feel the urge to intertwine the documentary filmmaking and the animated fictional world (the golden forest) with the interactive tool (+tree of memories).
It would be a pleasure to have your ideas and thoughts about making this interactive tool is such a way that it drives the story forward, "gives some lightness" to the project" and that it contributes to helping users in a therapeutic way. The gameplay should also deliver to bring the online project to "the real offline world" in order to maximise output and social change. We have some ideas on doing so (combined with social media strategy) but again, it would be very interesting to test these ideas, change them or make them stronger.