In a single lifetime, technological advancement influenced how stories are told and understood, and this series of anecdotes at redtourism.wordpress.com chronicles a facet of that development for all to see and ponder.
Back in the dot-com boom of the late 20th century, when “dotcom mixers” were all the rage in downtown Manhattan, I had an idea to tell stories (in this case, a spy story) using more than just text, video, or any single medium. I wanted subscribers to walk up to pay phones at a time at which they could expect to receive a call (dictated by an anonymous email from an informant), making the story more real. I wanted people to follow urls scrawled in chalk on sidewalks, with messages that looked like they were left by one of the characters: “I agree, the public needs to know.” This was a cross-media spy story called “Faction,” accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, sometimes via webcams which would show characters delivering updates on their respective investigations, unannounced, at irregular intervals, much unlike the regularly scheduled broadcasts of unrealistic tv. More recent updates to the page here.
Since then, this method of telling stories has become increasingly popular. From Morpheus’ email to whatisthematrix.com subscribers confirming “the Matrix has you,” to Christopher Walken’s comment during an interview by Jon Stewart in which he urged films to feature real, working phone numbers in the film’s dialogue instead of the usual “555” numbers we usually hear, “immersive entertainment,” as it has become known, has been on the rise.
The anecdotes featured here at redtourism.wordpress.com document the development of this original idea into its latest incarnation, RED, or “Recorded Experience Design.”
WHAT IS RED?
Recorded Experience Design is Interactive Reality Entertainment for travelers. It incorporates new media that allows travelers and subscribers to take part in the storyline of a film via live events, websites and their cell phones. The story runs along a controlled content delivery system that subscribers can interact with, creating an illusion that the story is very real. We produce live events and online content in line with the shooting of the film, which will incorporate the interactive live events. This is where actors seem to be part of the “crowd” and the film crew appear as “media” covering the event. The online content appears as a teaser, creating an information gap which can only be filled in by seeing the movie. At the end of the trip, the subscriber(s) can finally see the entire film, which provides a complete view of everything that has happened in the story.
Reactions to the various engagements (both through new media and live events intersecting the traveler’s itinerary) will be:
“Am I in?” “I don’t know yet.” “I think I am.” “I saw myself there.” “I even sent an email and got a reply.” “Heck I even spoke to them.” “My friend didn’t, but they got an sms.” “We went to the party and the exhibition…”
So, by generating awareness of the story through its channels and “blurring” the line between hard film production and reality media, between fiction and the real world, RED creates buzz and cross-flow between the various media.
Part of the appeal is that no one through production will necessarily know who is who. Only by socially interacting with people and picking up clues (websites, email addresses and phone numbers) both at the events and online can subscribers discern who the characters are and what the story may be.