Sandy Rai, an Indian exchange student, comes to the journalism program at Toronto’s Ryerson University and teams up with fellow student Trevor Shale for an assignment. However, what starts off as a college photojournalism assignment quickly plunges Sandy and Trevor into a deep mystery revolving around the suspicious death of a scientist, the enigmatic Georgia Guidestones, and a shadowy conspiracy still to be discovered.
While not necessarily the first interactive web series, Guidestones, created by iThentic and 3 o’clock TV, promises to raise the bar for the web series genre, experimenting with different methods of presentation. With a very polished look, including on-location filming in India, the independent series is presented in two versions: a 50-episode “push” version with built-in interactive elements, and a “linear” version that will debut in the spring. The “push” version went live this week, and viewers can sign up at Guidestones.org to keep up with the episodes as they are released. Offering different levels of engagement, the casual viewer can watch the web series as it unfolds, while those hungry for more can follow clues embedded in the videos which lead on to further online assets, hidden storylines, and other in-game/in-story extras.
The series blurs the line between fiction and reality by bringing in the very real mystery of the Georgia Guidestones, a megalith that suddenly appeared in 1979 in rural Elbert County, Georgia. Dubbed the “American Stonehenge,” the Georgia Guidestones stand nearly 20 feet high, are inscribed with four ancient languages, and feature a rather perilously balanced capstone on top. It’s the stuff conspiracy theorists, millenarians, and idle gawkers like me just eat up.
As Guidestones is a fictionalized documentary web series, certain aspects of its storytelling methods resonate well with recent discussions here at ARGNet. For example, the protagonist Sandy Rai, played by Supinder Wraich, is based on a real person, according to director Jay Ferguson of 3 o’clock TV, who met “Sandy” after becoming interested in the real Georgia Guidestones. Other very real people are included in this semi-fictionalized space (as themselves). What Guidestones adds to the discussion of the Georgia Guidestones and whether the series itself will enter into the megalith’s mythos will be certainly be interesting to see.
What’s most compelling, though, is how Guidestones will experiment with concepts of “real” time by not compressing the time between episodes: if it takes a character two days to physically travel from Point A to Point B, there will be two days between episode releases. The format essentially “pushes” the boundaries of pacing and dramatic irony through its “push” format, which relies upon timed email alerts for dissemination. Sign up now at Guidestones.org and catch this web series in real-time.