Alex McDowell
Narrative Designer, Professor of Practice, World Builder, USC School of Cinema and Experimental Design Studios
Biography
Alex McDowell began his design career in London in the punk era, designing graphics and music videos for musicians from The Cure to Madonna. He then migrated to America and cinema as a production designer on over 20 films, working with directors Steven Spielberg, David Fincher, and Tim Burton, among many others.

McDowell is currently professor of practice at USC School of Cinema, where he directs the World Building Media Lab and World Building Institute and teaches world building as a media- and platform-agnostic narrative design practice. Since 2012, his class has developed multiple worlds, fictional and real, past, present and future, each a container for multiple narrative outcomes. McDowell is also founding partner and creative director at Experimental Design Studios, building future worlds for client partners and collaborating with game makers, architects, anthropologists, neuroscientists, musicians, and storytellers across all media, including those not yet discovered.
Alex McDowell
Narrative Designer, Professor of Practice, World Builder, USC School of Cinema and Experimental Design Studios
SPEAKER FILM
Alex McDowell — World Building
Alex McDowell — World Building

As the production designer on such seminal films as The Crow, Fight Club, and Minority Report, Alex McDowell created what he calls "future realities"Ñgathering real information from laboratories, corporations, architects, and urban planning to envision worlds that don't yet exist but one day very well might. Since the release for Minority Report, for example, more than 100 patents have been filed for new technologies based on the film's imagined ones, such as gesture controls for computers and TV and self-driving cars.



Now, as Director of the USC World Building Media Lab and World Building Institute, McDowell and his interdisciplinary students are using this same methodology to design storyworlds that unfold across multiple media platforms, including those that don't exist yet. They're also applying their findings to help solve real-world problems, from climate change to the refugee crisis. It is McDowell's hope that by telling convincing stories that immerse audiences completely, their eyes can be opened to the possibilities of different kinds of future outcomesÑand designers, media-makers, and scientists can push to make those possibilities a reality.