Bringing Trauma to Your Mobile

I am just back from a very inspiring weekend attending the Futures of Entertainment 3 conference hosted by the Convergence Culture Consortium. One of the most exciting elements was getting to hear directly from several media producers who are doing fascinating transmedia “world building” projects in association with their television shows and movies.

One example was Lance Weiler (seen on the far left), director of the horror film Head Trauma, recently named one of the 18 People Who Changed Hollywood by Business Week magazine. He spoke about extending Head Trauma beyond the film (transcribed by Xiaochang Li on the C3 weblog — click through to read the whole panel discussion):

The movie is about the fragmentation of memory, a guy who comes back home after 20 years to settle his grandmother’s estate and finds it inhabited by squatters; he hits his head and starts having recurring nightmares that start to turn into reality. So we started to play with what’s real and what isn’t. We started with interactive comics and there were all kinds of easter eggs and rabbit holes as you moved through it.

We interjected mobile experiences so when the movie had a world premiere we handed out these Jack Chick-style comics and there were ciphers and clues within them. On the back it asks “do you want to play the game?” and when you called the number that’s there you’d get the nemesis of the movie; they’d hang up and then we’d call or text them back. This continued back and forth. Even when you went to the website, we could figure out that you were on there and call you during your visit to it. Throughout the premiere there was a whole give and take with phones – about 86% of the audience was engaged mobilely.

And we had an online series with all these subliminal things in it, and there was a remix area, where people could remix their own fragments. At one point when people showed up somewhere based on the clues in the game for a secret movie showing I ended up calling the LAPD and they came by with the helicopter and I executed all these SMS and phone calls saying things like “We’re watching you!”

They built a fake exit box into the website associated with the game so that when people tried to get out of the site they instead got a telephone call that said “Where do you think you’re going?”

Creepy.

But wow.

There are many things to admire about this, but I was particularly struck by the integration of film, internet, telephone, and face-to-face encounters.

I will write more about the event in the coming days, but if you just can’t wait, check out the thorough coverage of every panel on the C3 blog here.

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The Risks and Advantages of Social Network Sites

I was recently a guest on Kansas City current affairs show Up to Date on Kansas City NPR affiliate, KCUR. My co-guest was Michael Zimmer of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, who is an expert on issues of ethics, privacy and the web. Our guest-host Stephen Seligman led us through a lively and high quality discussion of social networking sites and what people ought to understand about their advantages and risks. It’s an hour long show with a call-in segment.

And, best of all, it’s available in mp3 form.

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