In a few days, Lance Weiler is going to Rotterdam to attend CineMart, the annual co-production market of the International Film Festival. Weiler’s upcoming cross-media project HIM was selected as one of 36 films to participate in this year’s presentation to an expected 850 international producers, sales agents, distributors, and funds. HIM, in addition to being the only work selected from the United States this year, is the first transmedia work to be selected at CineMart in its 26 year history. Previous films selected to participate in CineMart include the Academy Award-winning film Boys Don’t Cry, the grotesquely captivating Ichi the Killer (殺し屋１), and The Eye (見鬼), recently remade for the United States starring Jessica Alba.
When reached for comment, Weiler explained that HIM would be an interactive experience fusing storytelling and gaming, set on a global stage. The thought-provoking horror story will be a film at its core, but will fuse together elements of gaming, live events, serialized shorts, and graphic novel content taking place around the world and in your own living room. While the rules of the universe are established, Weiler has left considerable room in the story for what he describes as “controlled spontaneity”: the rules of the universe are set up, but the ripples from audience participation can have significant effects on the final product. As co-founder and principal of Seize the Media, Weiler developed the Hope is Missing ARG for the DVD release of his immersive film project Head Trauma, and worked with Hammer Films to produce the Beyond the Rave experience on MySpace.
The project is also an attempt to move away from traditional financing models for films relying on private equity and pre-sale financing deals by utilizing branding and licensing agreements. The ideal is to cement transmedia as a new media format. And one of the advantages of transmedia storytelling is the ability to set up considerable story elements on a limited budget, leading to a gradual rollout drawing on an international audience. Indeed, a number of times Weiler hinted that some elements may be floating out there relatively soon.
Presenting HIM to potential investors at CineMart is an opportunity to showcase both the potential and opportunities inherent in transmedia storytelling and alternate reality gaming as a self-sufficient format. And as one of BusinessWeek’s 18 People Who Changed Hollywood, Weiler just might be the man for the job.