A bear walks through the Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies and is ensnared in a trap where she is tranquilized, tagged, and collared with a GPS device. She has now become Bear 71, and joins a group of wired wildlife who document the interactions between nature and their increasingly encroaching human neighbors. Bear 71 is a new interactive project produced by the National Film Board of Canada’s digital studio, and includes an interactive web documentary site, a social media microsite, and a live installation piece that launched in conjunction with the Sundance Film Festival.
The main part of the project consists of an interactive web documentary created by NFB’s Jeremy Mendes and Leanne Allison, which introduces viewers to Bear 71 and then drops them into an interactive map of the Park, where they encounter other wired creatures that live in Bear 71’s home range: golden eagles, Big Horn sheep, wolves, and deer mice, all similarly tagged and under surveillance. The animals’ movements can be seen as they move about the park, and clicking on their markers reveals a video feed and information about the animal. Viewers can click on their own marker as well, which launches a group of surveillance feeds including their own (the site requests access to the viewer’s webcam and microphone, which can be denied) and any other viewers who happen to be browsing the site at the same time, tagged and tracked like the animals. Landmarks such as the freeway and railroad that run through the park can be seen, cars and trains moving on them as the animal’s markers cross back and forth, highlighting one of the project’s main points: when technology and the wild intersect, it is often to the detriment of the wildlife. There are also video feeds and observation points marked on the map, showing actual pictures and videos from their real-life counterparts in the Park.
There is an empty lot in Scranton, Pennsylvania on Madison Avenue, located at 41.410806° North, 75.654259° West. Despite its wholly unremarkable appearance, the site may be ground zero for a pandemic that will consume the planet. To find out the truth, exercise this opportunity to make the trek to Park City, Utah, where Lance Weiler’s short film Pandemic 41.410806, -75.654259 will grace the silver screen for the first time on January 24th at the Sundance Film Festival. However, keep in mind that the nine-minute short film is only a small part of Pandemic 1.0, a “storyworld experience” playing out at the film festival from January 20th to 30th. Sundance has already released the Pandemic 41.410806, -75.654259 short film in its entirety online, which serves as an extended teaser trailer for the full fright-filled experience. After watching the video embedded below, read on to learn more about the context for this universe that is equal parts compelling and terrifying.
Artwork by Reinier Clabbers.
Between January 21-31, cinephiles and celebrities will converge on Park City Utah for the annual Sundance Film Festival, immersing themselves in a rich tapestry of stories from independent filmmakers around the world. However, the immersion will start a few days early for Lance Weiler. Seize the Media’s upcoming transmedia project HiM was selected as one of twelve projects for the Sundance Institute’s Screewriters Lab. Weiler and his co-writer Chuck Wendig will spend the five days leading up to the Festival at the Sundance Resort honing their writing.
Over the course of the workshop, writers meet one-on-one with a distinguished group of creative advisors. Reflecting on his experience, 2009 Sundance Lab Fellow Avi Weider explains that the Lab served as “a great opportunity for everyone who got to go to really work intensively on the script and not to be able to hide from any of the soft spots that are lurking in all of our writing.” Weiler notes that he looks forward to the one-on-one sessions as a chance “to not only be able to workshop the script, but to be able to talk about ideas about how [to] deal with pacing and focus, and how [to] execute across multiple platforms effectively.”
Michelle Satter, Director of the Sundance Institute’s Feature Film Program, notes that this is the first time the Lab will support a transmedia project. The Sundance Institute Screenwriter’s Lab has supported an extensive list of award-winning independent films in the past including John Cameron Mitchell’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream, Kimberly Pierce’s Boys Don’t Cry and Quentin Tarantino’s Resevoir Dogs.
HiM has attracted attention at CineMart and Power to the Pixel for the elaborate transmedia narrative planned. Weiler admits that some of the game’s content has been out in the wild since the end of Hope is Missing in 2007. Sometime in 2010, these assets will be complemented by the release of geo-locative applications for the iPhone and Android tied to the experience. Later in 2010, Weiler hopes to begin shooting the feature film, which will serve as “just one larger component within [the] whole story world.”