The city of Asheville recently hosted its third annual HATCH Experience which broke loose throughout the downtown area, bringing together creative professionals from all over the world. Hatch began in Bozeman, Montana in 2003 and is held every October 5-9. It was brought to Asheville in 2009 and is held from April 14-17.
A lofty concept, HATCH is a four-day festival, featuring panels, workshops and events in architecture, film, music, photography, journalism, fashion and design and technology.
Every year, HATCH not only brings together the top professionals who act as mentors in every creative discipline to discuss the state and future of their trade, but it also picks young up-and-comers (“Groundbreakers”) of those disciplines to rub shoulders, teach and “incubate” ideas with.
I was chosen as a Journalism Groundbreaker after applying for the opportunity in late May. After working as a reporter in Macon County for nearly two years, I found it somewhat daunting to stay four, all expense paid nights in a city I hardly knew. I cover town aldermen meetings and corn hole tournaments, not film panels and fashion shows. To add to the pressure, I was the only Groundbreaker in my group who has not gone to college for journalism yet, whereas the others were still in school for it.
Because HATCH’s objective is to “incubate new ideas” for each of the seven trades, HATCH organizers have chosen to avoid calling the event a mere festival and insist it be referred to as an experience.
“Asheville has festivals every other day. HATCH is not a festival at all – it’s an experience,” said venue designer and event coordinator Michael.B, whose real last name is unknown to anybody – especially reporters – save his parents. “You will see why eventually,” he added.
I was able to attend several events at HATCH and will briefly summarize what I encountered.
Design and technology
Panelists Brett McCall (Asheville video game evangelist), Adam Blumenthal (owner of Curious Sense video game company), Nick Hiatt (digital environment artist for movies like Alice in Wonderland) and Tawny Schlieski (Intel research scientist) discussed the future of gaming and design, how it affects society and how it is changing.
Gamification, the application of gaming mechanics to everyday life, is on the rise, according to McCall, who moderated the panel. “Gamification is emerging in all walks of life now,” said Mc- Call, echoing his fellow panelists. “With it, we can achieve so much.”
Being that Asheville is the “Paris of the South,” the HATCH Experience would not be complete without its fashion events, of which there were plenty. In fact, there was more of a vanity fair founded in fashion, than any other discipline represented at the event.
At a keynote presentation, Norwegian luxury fashion designer Keyna Aranguren discussed the nature of the fashion business for budding designers. When creating clothing for a clothing line, designers must have ten pieces per collection. Having too much extra apparel can cause a designer to waste money, she explained.
Gerald Slota, whose images have appeared in such publications as The New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, The New Yorker and Discover, gave a keynote presentation on Friday at Castell Photography in Asheville.
Before a packed studio of photography enthusiasts, Slota showed off some of his series and publication work, and commented that having fun with photography is often the most vital element of the trade. In one series, following the Little Red Riding Hood story, Slota made do with a coat hanger as a model for Riding Hood’s cape, after losing his original model. “With that happy accident, I worked with it, and it turned out better,” he said.
Journalism has, for centuries, served to inform the public by holding a record of the news and events. But with the advent of the internet and social media, the age-old profession has been impacted in several ways.
On Friday, five professionals active in the realm of journalism today addressed the matter at the Innovator’s Lounge: Jeff Chu (Editor and reporter for business zine Fast Company), Jody Evans (Executive Director of Western North Carolina Public Radio), Tim Windsor (Editorial Director for online community news group Patch), Kim Ruehl (musician and online/print reporter for several publications) and Jess McCuan, editor of the Asheville-based women’s magazine VERVE.
The panelists largely commented on the benefits of online journalism, by generating buzz among all readers due to its accessibility. They also discussed the struggle to finance their operations, as well as the types of coverage they offer, and the challenges news outlets currently face.
Five professionals in the filmmaking industry sat before a nearly packed Innovator's Lounge and recalled their experiences in the trade.
Screenwriter Gerald Olson (One Dave at a Time, Divided States of America), filmmaker Danny Buday (Five Star Day, Desperation), editor Blair Daily (Good Morning Vietnam, Adventures in Babysitting), director/producers Sandy Anton and John Woldenberg (At Last, The Pardon) all discussed the future of the industry, and the difficulty in working within it.
Filmmaking nowadays is not so concrete, said Olson. “There’s no right way to do it. There’s no wrong way to do it, except not doing it,” he said.
“It’s a whole new world,” Woldenberg said of the current state of the film industry, commenting on the wide usage of digital technology as being the norm.
Jazz/Blues musician Andy Frasco has been playing piano for only five years, and has already performed at Sundance Film Festival, and been around the world playing his fusion-based music, along with Ray Charles. “The music industry is definitely changing,” he said. With the advent of the internet, many people say the music industry has died, and as Andy says, it’s “at a crossroad ... but true music never dies. That’s why we have so many online every day putting stuff out that might not ever be picked up.” Frasco is looking to change the industry with his music and encourage others to do the same.
What an experience HATCH turned out to be. I truly had some vivid encounters at HATCH. Whether it was having a locally brewed beer with SPIN Magazine publisher Malcolm Campbell, or pointing out the flaws of the mainstream music industry with Blues/Jazz musician Andy Frasco or discussing the future of filmmaking with acclaimed director Danny Buday, I was left with many ideas to consider for some time to come.
It was said best by HATCH creator Yarrow Kraner, who happened to call Asheville a “perfect fit” with its companion Bozeman event. “The inspiration of one affects the lives of millions,” he said at HATCH’s closing ceremony, and urged the room of several hundred to “tell the world” about HATCH.