Alumna revolutionizes interactive documentary

Posted August 26, 2011

When Sarah Gibson ('05) released her first documentary, "Steve Taylor is Not Dead," about the life of Christian artist, producer and filmmaker Steve Taylor, she was not content with the 40 minutes of film seen by the public. She began imagining a new way to tell stories, utilizing today's interactive media and the Internet.

"Steve Taylor's Digital Clone" uses the hours of footage and research (cut from Gibson's documentary to fit time constraints) in an online interactive documentary website. The site,, allows audience members to control their experience, exploring Taylor's life and career.

"I have always been interested in the web and the opportunities it provides to communicate and engage an audience," says Gibson, assistant professor of cinema and media communications at George Fox University. "What I love about documentary film is it gives you an opportunity to engage an audience in discussion about social issues, history, or anything else you want to express. When you bring the web and documentary together, it offers a powerful medium in which the filmmaker can interact with and continue to engage in the discussion."

Gibson began the project in May 2011, working with four students from George Fox University. Through every step, the team has used social networking sites -- Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr -- to engage Taylor’s fans. They plan to continually evolve the site, adding new content and responding to fan feedback. They have also worked to make the site iPad-friendly.

"The great thing about tablets, and the iPad specifically, is how they are expanding our understanding of communication. It changes the audience's ability to interact with the material," says Gibson. "It makes our communication tactile, providing you with a touchable environment in which to explore an issue. I believe the tablet will play a huge role in redefining the way we communicate and tell stories in the future."

Visitors to the site will learn in a unique way about Taylor, director of the upcoming film Blue Like Jazz. To learn more about the project, visit,, or

Read more in the Abilene Reporter-News article

Pictured: Sarah Gibson and her crew, (from left) Danielle Geiger, Sarah Gibson, Tyler Rhys Robertson, Aubrey Ferguson, David Reid