Hot Docs and Mozilla invite documentary makers to submit projects for participation in a two-day documentary workshop to be held Saturday, April 28, and Sunday, April 29, at Mozilla’s downtown Toronto offices.

Modeled after the “hack day” format of the open source community, this event brings documentary storytellers and technologists together for two days to produce an original web documentary. A tonic for the long timelines of traditional documentary production, hack days allow documentarians the chance to get their hands dirty with technology, try out ideas, and have a finished product at the end which they can continue to iterate.

Hot Hacks is part of the Living Docs project, a series of events, projects and code to bring openness and innovation to documentary. Living Docs is a collaboration between Mozilla, ITVS, the Tribeca Film Institute, BAVC and the Center for Social Media at American University.


Six documentarians will be paired with Mozilla developers and will rapidly prototype demonstration projects based on their films. Working with developers, the goal is to produce a “minimum viable prototype” of a documentary experience, using open web technologies like Mozilla Popcorn.

Hot Docs and Mozilla are seeking filmmakers with a vision of how their work can interact with web technologies. You should have some documentary media (video, audio, photographs), and a concept of how this material can be augmented by the web.

For an example of the types of creations that are made over a two day period, you can read this blog post from our last event or view some of the demo projects on the popcorn.js site.


Watch the video below from our last event!

The projects, as described by the creative teams:

The Message: the (r)evolutionary power of climate change
“The Message is a multi-platform (book + documentary + web + events) project by Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis.

Web Maker: Katie McKenna (Interactive Producer, Inside Disaster: Haiti – co-producer, The Take)

Immigrant Nation
“Using Facebook and other social media, Immigrant Nation will present a dynamic representation of immigration statistics about their local city. Users can combine photos from their Facebook account with a statement about their views on immigration, then place their own immigration story on a data-rich timeline titled ‘The Wave’, which charts the waves of immigrant populations through history, enabling users to locate themselves in the larger trajectory of immigration in the US.”
Web Maker: Theo Rigby (Student Academy Award winner, Sin País)

“Turcot looks at Montreal’s largest highway Interchange, currently scheduled for a complete demolition and rebuild. The interactivity of the documentary project will allow the residents a direct voice, so that their concerns and opinions are heard by others. The voices will build on each other to develop alternative designs and solutions while there is still time to influence the actual Interchange construction. With geo-tagging, narrative slide shows, onionskin maps (before and after) and a chronological historical timeline, the intention is to better identify the geographical areas that will be impacted and to visually present how the proposed construction plans impact on these areas. With the developed tools a user will be able to play and explore to better understand the current plans while developing alternative ideas for this mega-projects development.”
Web Maker: Daniel Cross (Director Squeegee Punks in Traffic, HomelessNation.org – Exec Producer Up The Yangtze, Last Train Home, Rip! A Remix Manifesto, China Heavyweight)

Following Wise Men (working title)
“I would like my film and interactive project to build a community around astronomy, to foster awareness of the discoveries of the last 50 years, and to raise interest in the questions those discoveries raise for humankind’s sense of place and purpose. I would like to build that community across geographic, age- and socio-economic boundaries. The film will tell an evergreen story about a 50th anniversary reunion road trip with four friends who are astronomers; the interactive project will be an evergreen, searchable, expandable, community-sourced science web site charting astronomers and their discoveries in the context of their professors, mentors and students in an astronomer’s family tree. “
Web Maker: Alison Rose (Love at the Twilight Hotel)

Looking at Los Sures “We will use an archival documentary (Los Sures by Diego Echeverria, 1984) about the South Williamsburg neighborhood as the inspiration as well as the primary online navigation for a set of new documentary projects that approach the same place and themes, now nearly thirty years later. New short interactive projects created by thirty different artists over three years will annotate and expand on the original film in ways previously unexplored.

In general, we hope to create an experience that allows viewers move fluidly between the past and present tenses, and engage multiple different viewing and interacting frameworks. This will be an environment where something like a curious graffiti tag in the back of a single shot of the original can be explored through a compelling, recently create investigative documentary project. Hanging all this contemporary insight within the frame of the archival film will also lend the project the sense of a beginning, middle, and end, creating a tried and true motivational structure for participation. In the end, the most lofty vision is to help create a new image for this diverse community where people currently overlap in space, but often don’t intersect in their daily lives. We believe this is a condition that exists all over the globe, and that this model for media can be usefully replicated elsewhere.”
Web Maker: Christopher Allen (Artistic Director, UnionDocs – Director, Capitol of Punk)

The Last Hijack
“For over 20 years Somalis have faced the horror of famine and war. The Last Hijack is a story about survival in this failed state. It is about the rise of piracy and how it affects the people around it.

One of our main problems is access. We have remotely directed a few shoots in Somalia, but have been disappointed by how slow and narrow the search for people and stories has been. To make this work, we need to accurately portray the people and their voices. We want to build upon current social and phone networks to cast a large net in order to find the stories and people that will move an audience. There exists a fragmented network of Somalis on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Al Jazeera did an interesting pilot program for citizen opinion gathering using SMS. We would like to create a platform that aggregates these stories and allows a centralize place for people to upload and view video, tweets, and posts.”
Webmaker: Tommy Pallotta (Director, Collapsus – Producer, A Scanner Darkly) We will be posting the results of the hack day on living docs, so please check back after the April 29th screening at the Mozilla offices to see the results. Good luck and happy hacking to the web makers!


  • 10:00 arrival – coffee and orientation
  • 10:30 Opening introduction and goal setting
  • 11-5.30 Filmmakers and developers sprint on projects, with a break for lunch
  • 5.30 -6 come together as a group to show and discuss


  • 10.00 arrive, drink coffee
  • 10:30 a few words on process
  • 10:45 – 6:00 hack some more. Rush to finish
  • 7:00 screening and party! Please come and see what these creative teams have produced