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The Storytellers

The principals of 1504 design and build stories at the intersection of culture and community.

Tyler Jones, Mark Slagle and Alex Kirby are are a collective of interdisciplinary artists, strategists, and entrepreneurs. Collaboration comes first, followed by a blend of client-commissioned and original work.

When Florence-born Tyler Jones decided to move back to Alabama the impetus was a chance to work with author Rick Bragg as a research assistant; but he has stayed for the stories.

Jones struck out on his own and opened a studio in 2013, one modeled on the basis of an architecture studio. But instead of buildings or public spaces, Jones was building something more ephemeral and perhaps in some ways longer-lasting. He built stories. The studio was named 1502, the year the Italian Renaissance began in Florence, Italy

“We were really intentional in the beginning to be a studio with certain freedoms, not being locked into a certain medium, and also having the freedom to not do exclusively client work,” Jones says.

Structured to scale up or down as the work demanded, Jones opened what he describes as a “narrative studio with story telling being the lens with which we approach whatever we are doing no matter the medium. That has helped us defines ourselves somewhat.

Unlike a traditional agency they don’t do traditional advertising or media buying. “We want to be brought in, maybe by an agency, to do specific types of content projects. Whether the focus is on telling a story, creating content, artifacts or experiences. Visual storytelling could be told through photographs or video. Artifacts include a book the studio created for a client last year. The prospect of more experiential, site-specific storytelling has Jones excited.

The group has been working with Hotel Peter & Paul in New Orleans on an immersive audio walk consisting of six episodes around the hotel’s history as a Catholic church and school.

“You’ll get to move through the property listening to stories that are essentially memories being shared. We have mapped the stories across the property. That to me is an example of site specific storytelling where the audience is getting to participate in more than just a passive experience,” Jones says.

Jones sees a renaissance happening in not only how content is created but how it is experienced, too. “We are trying tp position ourselves in the South in particular to be there on the front lines pursuing this type of story telling,” he says.

Jones says he has found Birmingham to be a great and in many ways unexpected place to work his trade. The proximity to Atlanta, Nashville and New Orleans has been a good development for winning regional work. While most of the studio’s work does not take place in Alabama, Jones says they would like to do more work locally. Thus far, he says, they have worked on projects for Jones Valley Teaching Farm, the Ed Foundation and Mayor Randall Woodfin.

Studio Bios

Tyler Jones is a writer, filmmaker, and founding member of 1504, a narrative studio that creates immersive storytelling.  Originally from Florence, Alabama, he moved to Los Angeles in 2006 where he immediately fell in love with the place he had just left behind. At a time when content creators were looking beyond California and New York, he returned to The South to earn a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Alabama and navigate a complex place.

1504 was established with a focus on the intersection of culture and community, working with the Southern Foodways Alliance to profile rural farmers, the National Endowment for the Arts to explore the heritage of jazz, and the Equal Justice Initiative to spotlight the legacy of racial terrorism.

Today, Jones is pursuing experiential, place-based work with architects, developers, and planners, centered on a belief that a narrative approach to placemaking can help foster a deeper sense of belonging and memory. As part of that effort, 1504 is collaborating with ASH NYC to develop multimedia stories for Hotel Peter & Paul in New Orleans.

Mark Slagle is a producer at 1504 originally from Nashville. He helps design and build campaigns to translate point-of-view into a narrative program over the lifetime of a development. Mark is experienced as a producer with augmenting in-house teams or other creative partners.

Alex Kirby is the studio manager at 1504. She specializes in project coordination and oversees all of the studio’s projects and campaigns from start to finish. She has recently eased into a producer role and enjoys being fully involved in every detail.

The Stories

“Full Circle: The Ballad of Rodney and Roscoe” Presented by Southern Foodways Alliance

Two barbecue dynasties are joining forces between Roscoe Hall, the grandson of Dreamland BBQ, and Rodney Scott, the first African American to win the James Beard Award for Best Chef Southeast. Together, they aim to preserve the whole hog tradition while overcoming systemic business obstacles. This story explores the weight of family legacy and the rise of black entrepreneurship through food. The story aims to humanize a friendship that extends beyond the pit and, hopefully, foreshadows a regional influence that is just beginning for younger chefs.

“The Holy Ghosts” Presented by Hotel Peter & Paul

Hotel Peter & Paul occupies the 150-year-old site of a former Catholic school and church in New Orleans. In an effort to honor that historic community, “The Holy Ghosts” is a mixed-media project that encourages visitors to encounter local perspectives. A short film series accompanies a site-specific audio experience that immerses guests in stories from the property’s past, told in the actual places where they occurred. The intention is to apply narrative placemaking to foster new memories and examine the power of place in our lives.

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