There is an empty lot in Scranton, Pennsylvania on Madison Avenue, located at 41.410806Â° North, 75.654259Â° 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 annualÂ 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 complementedÂ 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.”
Lance Weiler just got back from his trip to Rotterdam for the International Film Festival. At the festival, Weiler’s upcoming transmedia project HIM (produced by Seize the Media) won the Arte France Cinema Award.
The Arte France CinÃ©ma Award is given out every year to the best CineMart project. The winner receives 10,000 Euros towards financing the development of the project. Filmmaker Magazine noted that director of Arte France CinÃ©ma Michel Reilhac remarked that the award “acknowledged the visionary nature of Weiler’s project and noted that it speaks towards the type of new thinking about audience and platforms that will be necessary if our world of specialty cinema is to survive in the coming years.”
Congratulations to Lance Weiler and everyone at Seize the Media.
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 (æ®ºã—å±‹ï¼‘), and The Eye (è¦‹é¬¼), 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.