Outside the Frame: Introducing Amanda Hirsch

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Freelance writer Amanda Hirsch, former editorial director of PBS Interactive, will be writing a biweekly column, Outside the Frame, for the POV Blog about documentaries and the Web. Outside the Frame will be published every other Wednesday.

Amanda HirschAs a long-time POV fan, I’m thrilled to join the ranks of POV bloggers. While I’m a big admirer of the films POV showcases, I’m even more admiring of their innovative work online — which is only logical, really, considering I first discovered POV when I was working at PBS Interactive (the division of PBS headquarters responsible for PBS.org), and was assigned as their editor.

Throughout most of my tenure at PBS, I had the privilege of collaborating with POV’s team as they explored the potential of interactive storytelling. They stood out in a field of excellent web producers for their unwavering commitment to finding creative ways to reach and engage people online. As a result of their dedication and talent, they grew to become one of the most visited sites on PBS.org, and won a number of the industry’s top honors.

It’s not surprising, then, that Theresa Riley, the director of POV Interactive, always envisioned this blog as a place for discussing not only documentary films, but also the intersection of documentaries and the Web. So she invited me to jump into the fray and cover this fascinating terrain.

If you’re thinking, “Oh great, we’re in for a lot of technical mumbo-jumbo” — never fear. I’m neither technical nor a fan of the jargon and buzzwords that dominate so much writing about the Web. Instead, I’m interested in — actually, passionate about — stories: how we tell them, and why, and how we can tell them in more compelling and creative ways. I care about this not in an abstract, academic sense but as a writer, editor and performer who trades in stories. I’ve led workshops on online storytelling for organizations ranging from Sundance to the National Film Board of Canada. I maintain my own blog, Creative DC, showcasing and inspiring creative living in Washington, D.C. I’m an actress and improviser. Like I said: I love stories.

If you want to know more about me, you can follow me on Twitter, or “friend” me on Facebook, or check out my photos on Flickr. And of course, you could always read my blog. Sound like overkill? Feel a little too voyeuristic? Well, here’s a question: is following me online any more voyeuristic than watching a documentary about me? How do the ways in which we document lives online vary from how we document them on film? How do the different media complement each other?

These are the kinds of questions I’m excited to explore with you here on this blog, together with the filmmakers, multimedia producers, bloggers and others I’ll be interviewing. I invite you to send me your story ideas using the comments feature below, or at pov[at]creativedc.org.

Amanda Hirsch
Amanda Hirsch
Amanda Hirsch is former editorial director of PBS Interactive.