To fully understand why I am releasing this thing in fragments, see my prior post.
What will follow is meant to (and may sometime this decade) be a series of posts sharing an idea I’ve been working on for a while. It won’t be complete in this or even several installments. Just the same, I’m trying to break a logjam by releasing incomplete material, so bear with me. I look forward to your feedback.
For the sake of this experiment, the concept is to produce a web-based series based on â€œusâ€. Iâ€™ll get into the subject of the web series a bit more later, but for now, I want to continue defining the frame a bit.
The inspiration for this entire project came to me from several influences, but chief among them is the works of Joss Whedon (Dr. Horribleâ€™s Sing-along Blog) and Felicia Day (The Guild). In particular, an interview with Ms. Day drew my interest to the changes that such a series can and has made in creative and media distribution.
The Guild, season 1: 10 episodes, 4-8 minutes in length, previously available for free via iTunes, and now, via msn media and Xbox Live. Hereâ€™s the interview with Onion AV Club that got me thinking, and I encourage you to download and watch at least the first few episodes of season 1.
Here are some of the key points from my point of view:
- inexpensive production (compared to tv)
- cheap distribution (mostly viral)
- laser targeting of an audience (players of MMORPGs, and to a lesser degree, gamers in general for the guild, ours would be different)
Dr. Horrible, as most of you know, was somewhat different in form, with 3 episodes of roughly 15 minutes in length each.
Of the 2, the Guild more closely matches what I have in mind.
What Iâ€™m proposing is a web-distributed series, working in the model of several episodes (maybe 7-10). Each episode would target 4 to 10 minutes in length. Each episode would cover (perhaps not resolve) a single idea/motif/concept. Each episode would also work along a â€œseason longâ€ story arc.
Part of the inspiration here is â€œdo what you knowâ€. What do we know? Probably the idea I like best (so far) is one I havenâ€™t really found a concise name for yet, but most closely approaches the concept of â€œArtist T_rr_ristsâ€ (trying to avoid the wrong search engines). Conceive of a group similar to our membership (Lacuna or Lichtenbergian? Not sure…) as a group of folks angry that the world was trading in â€œrealâ€ art for a faded mass commercial shadow of itself. Rather than go quietly, theyâ€™ve decided to take a more militant approach, staging events of â€œartistic disobedienceâ€. Iâ€™ve toyed with the concept of â€œEmotionnistsâ€, with the idea being that each act be targeted at creating in folks an emotional reaction via these acts, with a different emotion targeted each time. We would use episodes to cover phases of the creative and execution process, and the â€œseason arcâ€ be the execution of a single act of artistic disobedience. We could even roll it back a bit, and make a first mini-season, showing a transformation to our roles as pseudo-artistic-militants. Oh, and the work of the Truth Project may serve as an example as well. Another possible concept would be a series about a bunch of creatives that decide to release a podcast about the creative process, and make our podcast a docu-/mocku-mentary of the process of making to podcast.
One idea I have for creating characters for such a project would be to characature each of us. What would you consider to be your most interesting idiosyncrasy? What do you consider to be your core belief on the subject of all things artistic? What physical features do you have that could be exaggerated to create a hook for your character?
(…and here ends the text I had written so far. More to follow?)
The other day I received the following e-mail:
Hi – is this the Marc Honea who went Abelard elementary school and then spent teen years in Coweta county near Peachtree City?
If no – sorry! Â If yes – Hi Brigham Fairview here – would love to catch up!
This kind of mail was a first for me. Â All the facts were true (I’ve changed some names to respect privacy), but I was suspicious. Â Yes, it would be a kick to catch up with Fairview–someone I haven’t seen since high school–but might not this be a strategy used by internet scammers either to gain personal info or send viruses? Â It seemed to me it would be easy enough to assemble a bit of identifying info (why not by stealing info from people who use searches to track down old acquaintances, even?). Â Or what if Fairview was exploiting old acquaintances to boost his Amway sales (something I have been on the receiving end of in the past)? Â Or perhaps he or some scammer wanted to lure me into a questionable investment. Â My disposition (and myÂ naivetÃ©, probably–a healthy dose of doubt prevents it from being diagnosed as paranoia, thank you very much) made it difficult to take the message at face value (plus, the word to was left out). Â I sent the following reply:
Â I am he.
But how do you know for sure?
And how do I know you are “the” Brigham Fairview?
Wouldn’t it be interesting if we both turn out to be Internet Scammers, neither of us truly who we claim to be, both of us now locked in a game of cat and mouse deception, each of us daring the other to take it a step further?
Fairview, if I remember, had a sense of humor. Â In his reply to this he managed to present enough evidence, including websites, to make me feel safe and silly. Â Blame it on my mother: Â People will walk all over you if you let them. Â And my father: Â People are no damn good.
But I like the premise I articulated in my message. Â The Assignment, then: Â what I imagine is a “story” that is just a series of e-mail messages with no commentary or explanation. Â The reader would not know going in that this was a series of exchanges between two people pretending to be who they are not, neither knowing at the outset that the other is anÂ impostorÂ trying to exploit the other. Â Dirty Rotten Scoundrels would be a useful film reference, but I think the “e-mail form” offers some unique possibilities at a more…microscopic level. Â Good hunting.