Personal profile

Personal profile

Victoria Mapplebeck is a BAFTA winning director, writer and artist. She is also Professor of Digital Arts in Media Arts.  In 1999 , Victoria wrote, filmed and directed Smart Hearts, a five part TV and online series in which web cams streamed live from the subjects’ homes for over 18 months. Smart Hearts was the first cross platform and interactive documentary series to be commissioned by Channel 4 and was nominated for a New Media Indie Award. Over the last three decades,  Victoria has written and directed a large body of work which includes documentary films, websites, art installations, VR and immersive audio projects. Her works explore autobiographical stories which ask universal questions about our relationship with technology, parenting, health and wellbeing. Areas of expertise and impact include:

Smartphone Production;

Victoria has extensive experience of smartphone production and is passionate about how this evolving technology can bring fresh approaches to cinema and create new stories and new voices. Since 2015, Victoria’s smartphone shorts, have received a Vimeo staff pick, a Broadcast Digital Award and a BAFTA.  Her BAFTA winning short, Missed Call, explores the many ways in which our lives are lived and archived via the phones we hold so close. Commissioned by Real Stories with an online audience of 5.59 million viewers, Missed Call was the first smartphone short to win an academy award.

In 2021, Victoria co founded and co curated, SMart : The London International Smartphone Film Festival, with former Channel 4 commissioner Adam Gee.  SMart attracted celebrity judges and extensive media coverage, creating new opportunities for smartphone directors (including many Royal Holloway students ) to explore and experiment with smartphone technologies and to connect with an international audience. Victoria is currently in production on Motherboard, the first smartphone feature documentary which documents the last 18 years of raising her son alone. In its early stages of development, Motherboard received a Women Film and TV Network development bursary  and in 2021 received development funding from Autlook Film Sales, one of the leading sales agents for feature documentaries, hybrids and doc series

Immersive Storytelling and collaborative innovation;  

Victoria is passionate about new modes of documentary storytelling. Over the last three decades she has experimented with new technologies and new platforms to build new audiences. In 2016, in partnership with theBALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art,  Victoria wrote, directed and curated TEXT ME - An award winning interactive arts project exploring how audiences could collect, curate and share stories from their digital past. As part of this six week exhibition, gallery visitors created their own artworks, inspired by a story or secret buried in their mobile phone. TEXT ME won The Pixel Lab Prize and The Merging Media Prize for Best European Cross platform Project. It was also selected for University UK’s 20 Ideas for Life, one of 20 national research projects, which celebrated ‘The impact universities have on everyday lives in the UK and beyond, including the value and importance of their world leading research’.

More recently, Victoria’s work has explored intimacy, narrative and presence design in spatial storytelling.  In 2019, Victoria received a 50K EPSRC Immersive Documentary Encounters Commission, to create a VR Journey which tells the story of  her breast cancer, from diagnosis to recovery. The Waiting Room;VR  features a 9 minute durational 360 take, a reconstruction of Victoria’s  last session of radiotherapy, which marked the end of a year of breast cancer treatment. Moving beyond sentimentality and survivor/victim binaries, The Waiting Room VR explores illness from a patient’s POV and  reminds the audience of the person behind the diagnosis. This multi platform project also includes a 30 minute smartphone short film which premiered on The Guardian website in 2019

The Waiting Room VR project premiered at the 76th Venice International Film Festival , won IDFA DocLab Award for Digital Storytelling and was also featured on BBC Click . The Waiting Room VR was also selected for Forbe’s Top 50 XR experiences of 2019 and chosen by MIT as one of ‘The Best of International 360 Cinema in VR’ projects over the last decade. The Waiting Room VR is archived on the MIT Docubase site, a curated platform, ‘of the people, projects, and technologies transforming documentary in the digital age’.

In 2021, Victoria received development funding from IDFA Doclab to create Testing Times, an immersive audio installation,  which features material from over 50 hours of phone calls and voicemails recorded during multiple lockdowns. Testing Times creates an intimate and unromanticized portrait of family life during a global pandemic and was selected to be in competition at IDFA in Amsterdam in November 2021

For the last 15 years, Victoria  has been Programme Director of The MA in Digital Documentary Victoria has taught film practice to many undergrad and postgrad students in Media Arts. She is passionate about developing and delivering engaging and inclusive forms of teaching and learning, which encourage and inspire students to achieve excellence in creative filmmaking,  immersive media and their future careers in the creative industries. Victoria is the Equality Champion in Media Arts, and committed to shaping a new generation of Media professionals who will help to create a more inclusive and diverse industry. Victoria’s article for The Conversation exploring the lack of gender parity in Film and TV, had 16,000 online views and has been widely shared and debated by our students.

Victoria is regularly invited to give keynotes and masterclass sessions on her creative research for Storyfutures,Sheffield Docfest, Banff New Media Institute, IDFA, WFTV, University of Westminster, The Video Consortium, East Doc Platform, BALTIC Centre For Contemporary Art and Vice Media. Victoria is also a BAFTA member and has been invited to sit on many  international Film and Immersive Festival juries.

Her creative research has achieved  significant external impact in international press and media including BBC News, Sky News , ITV News, BBC Click, The Economist, The Times, The Observer, Radio 4, Amazon Studios, Screen Daily, Voices of VR, Bertha Dochouse and Broadcast magazine. Victoria has also written many features on her practice research for The Huffington Post ,Wired magazine and The Conversation.  

Films, articles and more info at the link below:





Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities