Copyright 2014 Lance Weiler all rights reserved

Lance Weiler


August 29, 2014

Civic Innovation Lab

In 2008, Lance co-founded a roving gathering focused on story-driven innovation. Today Learn Do Share holds events in 10 cities that harness storytelling, play, collaborative design and technology as tools for social innovation. LDS has designed and run event / labs for Columbia University, the UN, Unicef and the Danish Government. This fall, LDS is partnering with Hub LA and the City of Los Angeles to create the city’s first Civic Innovation Lab. Part design lab, part community caucus, part accelerator of urban solutions, Civic Innovation Lab at Hub LA is dedicated to the development of real solutions designed with and for communities throughout Los Angeles.

In May 2014, Lyka’s Adventure headed to Australia to kick off our global tour. Over the course of 12 days we crisscrossed the country doing media interviews, running labs in schools and promoting the first of 8 books that is being published by Penguin. Tour stops included the Melbourne Zoo, Sydney Opera House, the Great Barrier Reef and Uluru to name a few. The highlight of the trip was running Lyka’s Adventure Labs for over 400 students around the country. The Labs harness storytelling, play and design thinking as tools for discovery based learning with an emphasis on teaching 21st Century skills (rapid prototyping, physical computing, collaborative design, STEM).

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June 23, 2014


Over the course of 14 months, Lance lead a team of over 50 people to create an immersive experience that harnessed storytelling, code and participatory culture to tell an original story that paid homage to iconic filmmaker David Cronenberg.

BODY/MIND/CHANGE is recognized by the prestigious MUSE Awards and the Webbys for its innovative use of story and code.


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Building Storyworlds – the art, craft & biz of storytelling in 21c” is an ongoing prototype and story R&D (research & development) project. The goal is to develop an open resource that experiments with the notion of storytelling in the 21st Century.

The prototyping is centered around a book that I wrote in twitter. Using the limitations of twitter, each page of the book is written in a 140 characters or less. The 140 theme is then carried further as the book will be released in a 140 copy run. An experiment in scarcity and abundance, each page of the book says “set this book free please retweet.”

Elements of the book form the foundation of the course that I teach at Columbia University. In addition, a series of experiments that strive to put theory into practice will be conducted each semester. Students and global collaborators will work together to design, build, and produced an immersive storytelling experience. The whole process will be openly documented and released under a creative commons license in an attempt to gain a better understanding of what goes into creating immersive storytelling experiences.

This past year we released our first storyworld entitled My Sky is Falling. A creative collaboration between storytellers, game designers, foster youth, social workers, students and educators, My Sky is Falling placed participants in a sci-fi world that acted as a metaphor for aging out of foster care. The success of the first effort has lead to the development of a special digital storytelling lab at Columbia University. In addition, My Sky is Falling was run at a special UN event this past spring and has since been invited to present to Congress.


June 22, 2013

IndieWire Influencer

Last week Indiewire named Lance one of their 2013 Influencers. A new feature that focuses on 40 individuals and companies who are driving the industry forward and innovating new models. SEE MORE

April 22, 2013

GOOD 100

GOOD magazine has named Lance one of the people who are pushing the world forward in 2013. A 100 people were chosen from a range of fields and disciplines. It is a wonderful list of people doing amazing things. SEE MORE.

I made the following presentation in London this past fall.

From the Power to the Pixel program
“Lance shares his first hand experience in what it takes to build original storyworlds. From Pandemic 1.0 which invaded the Sundance Film Festival this year, to his new participatory storytelling trilogy, Reboot Stories, which kicked off this year with an actual space launch – Lance pulled back the curtain on the process and shared his experience at Power to the Pixel’s Cross-Media Forum, October 2011.”

Here’s a recent article from WIRED that provides some insight into Robot Heart Stories and what some of the takeaways of the experience were.


Robot Heart Stories Sends Kids on Cross-Country Trek Fueled by Imagination

By Mildred I Lewis

Image by Mike Hedge and Tiffani Bearup

“Lance Weiler’s most recent project began with a simple yet provocative question: can a robot reboot education? To answer that question, Weiler collaborated with fellow Workbook Project contributor Janine Saunders in creating Robot Heart Stories with a team of more than 50 creative professionals.

For the project, students in a Los Angeles elementary school class and a Montreal media workshop teamed up to send Laika, a small female robot scientist, from Canada to California. As a team of award-winning photographers drove the robot across country, the 42 students fueled Laika’s journey with stories, videos and letters. Photographers and other artists brought the children’s work to life and, in turn, uploaded their work to the website.”
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November 19, 2011

Bears, Robots and travel


I’m excited to be part of the creative team working on Bear 71, a wonderful project from Leanne Allison & Jeremy Mendes. I’m co-creating the installation and doing experience design in conjunction with the National Film Board of Canada. Bear 71 unfolds at Sundance as an official selection of New Frontier this coming January.

From the Sundance site:

Jeremy Mendes and Leanne Allison’s poignant interactive documentary about a bear in the Canadian Rockies illuminates the way humans engage with wildlife in the age of networks, satellites, and digital surveillance. Audiences from around the world can use their smartphones to become part of an interactive forest environment rich with bears, cougars, sheep, deer, and people as they follow an emotional story of a grizzly bear tagged and monitored by Banff National Park rangers.


Special engagements

Nov 29th in Melbourne
Screen Australia and StoryLabs are teaming up for a special day entitled MULTI-PLATFORM STORYTELLING – FROM IDEA TO MARKET. I’m the opening keynote for the event which is a gathering of top storytellers from around the world.

Dec 7th in NYC
I’ve been invited to do a special day long workshop at the Writer’s Guild of America on the future of storytelling. I’ll be joined by my writing partner Chuck Wendig. The day will explore how to design stories and social experiences that are positioned for the connected world that we live in.


Robot Heart Stories

Over 10 days in October, the beta release of Robot Heart Stories took place. It far exceeded my expectations. With over 50 collaborators in 8 countries the project reached students around the world. Robot Heart Stories engaged two main classrooms (one in Montreal and one in LA) but also spread to mix of students working across different subjects in various grades. Together the students helped Laika (the robot they named!) to travel from Montreal to LA. Early next year, we’ll launch Laika along with copies of the student’s artwork and stories into space. For more on the project visit

Some coverage
Discovery News
Good Magazine

I wrote about co-creation and participatory storytelling in my Fall Column for Filmmaker Magazine

August 21, 2011

Robot Heart Stories

This fall I’ll be releasing an exciting new participatory storytelling project focused on experiential education, storytelling and creative collaboration.

A robot has crash landed in Montreal and now must make her way to LA in order to find her space craft and return home. Two third grade classes in underprivileged neighborhoods, one in Montreal (French speaking) and the other in LA (English speaking) engage in an experiential learning project that utilizes math, science, history, geography and creative writing to place education directly in the hands of students. By using collaborative problem solving and creative writing the students help the Robot make her way across North America. The project concludes with an actual space launch! That’s right the robot along with copies of the students stories and artwork will board a commercial rocket that is headed to the space station later this fall.

June 9, 2011

Exciting News

A number of exciting things are in the works…

This fall I’ll be teaching a graduate course at Columbia University. The course is tied to a book that I’m releasing entitled “Building Storyworlds – the art and craft of storytelling in 21C.” I’m looking forward to discussing the present and future of the media industry.

World Economic Forum
I’ve been working with the World Economic Forum as part of a steering committee on the “Future of Content Creation.” As authorship changes and the democratization of the tools to create spread, the line between amateur and professional continue to blur. The steering committee looks at the impact of content creation in regards to access, emerging business models and its effect on global policy.

New Column
My upcoming column in Filmmaker Magazine’s Summer issue focuses on Story Hacks as I share a first hand account of going through TechCrunch’s Disrupt Hackathon. Over 24 hours myself, a developer and designer go from concept to prototype to presenting on stage in front an audience.

Upcoming speaking
Power to the Pixel Labs – Berlin, Germany
Merging Media Conference – Vancouver, Canada
StoryWorld – San Francisco
DIY Days – LA

Recent Press
Moviescope May/June issue

The feature article looks at Pandemic 1.0 and the current state of Transmedia Storytelling.

Mediabistro – interview
I sat down with Mediabistro to discuss the Sundance Pandemic experience.

February 24, 2011

Collapsus Emmy Nomination

My writing partner Chuck Wendig and I wrote and provided narrative design for Collapsus: The Energy Risk Conspiracy last year. This past week Collapsus received an International Emmy® nomination in the Digital Program Fiction category. Big congrats to Tommy Pallotta (director) and the whole Submarine Channel team.

January 31, 2011

Pandemic 1.0

“A mysterious virus begins to affect the adults in a small rural town, and the youth soon find themselves cut off from civilization, fighting for their lives. How fast is the virus spreading? It is confirmed—the virus has hit Park City. Can you survive? Pandemic 1.0, a transmedia storytelling experience, unites film, mobile and online technologies, props, social gaming, and data visualization, enabling audiences to step into the shoes of the pandemic protagonists anytime during the day. Mission Control is the only way to learn where you stand in the face of the spreading pandemic.” – Sundance Film Festival program description.

An overview of Pandemic 1.0



A short film was positioned at the center of the experience.

The response to Pandemic 1.0 at the Sundance Film Festival last week was amazing. Big thanks to all the players and those behind the scenes who helped to make Pandemic 1.0 a reality. I’ll be doing a more extended post in the future and we’re working on an extensive case study which will be released via the WorkBook Project.

Mission Control – uses data viz (Jeff Clark) and software (Mark Harris and Vectorform) to track the story which unfolds in real-time over a 120 hours.

The Memorial Room provides a look at those who are infected.

Photos by Elaine Zelker

Online players match assets to unlock items hidden in Park City. Site by My Monteur, NetVentures and Freedomlab.

Julie B from Pretty in Plastic made some bear totems with MP3 players, cameras, thumb drives and slide viewers based on concepts that I felt helped to bring themes of the storyworld to life.



Behind Pandemic 1.0 from Turnstyle News on Vimeo.

Pandemic Memorial Room Bonus from Turnstyle News on Vimeo.!5748768/sundances-interactive-outbreak-movie

December 14, 2010

Pandemic at Sundance

In addition to Pandemic 1.0 appearing in the Frontier Section of the Sundance Film Festival the short that I co-wrote and directed called Pandemic 41.410806, -75.654259 will be one of 44 US shorts in the narrative section. The first in a series of shorts that will be shot in London, Berlin, Paris, Rome and Barcelona – Pandemic 41.410806, -75.654259 stars Alexia Rasmussen and Trevor Harker as a brother and sister trying to make sense of a strange outbreak that turns their mother into a nocturnal threat.

pandemic short

One part of a larger storytelling experience the short sits at the center of a story told with…

1 short film
1 magazine
1 koala
5 secret locations
10 scares
12 totems
60 story artifacts
50 mobile phones
5,000 bottles of water
40,000 people
50,000 photos
3.2 million points of data

November 3, 2010

Headed to Sundance

I’m excited to announce that I’ll be headed to the Sundance Film Festival with a new project entitled Pandemic 1.0 This marks the first step in a rolling release of a new storyworld that I’ve been building. It is part of what I’ve been calling a storytelling R&D (research and development) process.

Pandemic 1.0 Lance Weiler (U.S.A.)
Pandemic 1.0 is a transmedia storytelling experience that spans film, mobile, online, real-world, social gaming and data visualization. Over the course of the festival the story will unfold enabling viewers / players to step into the shoes of our protagonists. The story experience starts when a mysterious sleep virus begins to affect the adults in a small rural town, the youth soon find themselves cut off from civilization and fighting for their lives. Will they survive? Can you survive?


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