First of all, the entire team at Bxx would like to thank everyone who helped build our brave little transmedia experiment or logged on to check it out. Bxx: HAUNTED was immensely challenging, and, though it started out as a “proof of concept,” it turned out to be quite a bit more than that, with over 30,000 visitors, a third of which staying on 30 minutes or more, with a total of over 4 million hits. And all this with zero public relations and hype other than the interest we could drum up on the social networks.
We’ve since taken a long, objective look at the results of our little narrative experiment. In doing do, we’ve come to a number of conclusions, the main take-away being that, like most experiments, the result we were seeking has been utterly eclipsed by another that we discovered quite by accident.
Our original intent with Bxx was to create a non-linear narrative that could be accessed by the user at any point in the story and viewed in any order.
In order to execute the concept, we needed to produce a 32 hour scripted drama in real time—an unprecedented task which presented a number of unique technical and human challenges. Though, as one would expect, the technical aspects were tough (particularly on a miniscule budget), far more demanding than the hardware were the flesh-and-blood issues, as follows:
- How do we script a 32 hour drama, much of which is being performed simultaneously in different locations?
- How do we rehearse the actors?
- How do the actors sustain a role, uninterrupted, for days at a time?
Nevertheless, after much trial-and-error, we devised (although “reinvented,” may be the more accurate term) solutions to writing, rehearsal and performance—techniques we immediately recognized as proprietary insomuch as they are highly counterintuitive and would prove virtually impossible for a competitor to replicate or “reverse-engineer” by simply viewing the end-product.
Much as the Apollo missions gave birth to calculators, adult diapers and Tang, our little experiment yielded a number of incidental discoveries in support of its ultimate goal. One of those “incidental discoveries” not only overshadows the others, but arguably the entire experiment itself.
There is a project management axiom that is ruthlessly applicable to the production of filmed entertainment, distilled into the famed “Euler Diagram,” which you will no doubt recognize as follows:
The axiom states that one can only achieve two of the three aspects within a project. For instance, if speed and quality is desired, the quest will prove expensive. Likewise, if one has a small budget but takes enough time in execution, the results can be good.
The box-narrative format, however, obliterates this paradigm by virtue of the sheer volume of material captured within the time-frame.
The production of Bxx: Haunted, for instance, yielded almost 600 hours of video, hundreds of pages of notes logged by the characters in journals and investigatory forms and dozens of audio samples. Our budget was less than $50,000, including the purchase of 16 IR cameras and a custom DVR system. Though one may argue that much of the material we captured—empty rooms, sleeping actors, lulls in action—is unexciting, the same decidedly cannot be said once its entirety is distilled into its most compelling fraction of a one percent.
In short, we surmised that, given adequate resources, the box-narrative format can easily deliver a full season of compelling commercial television content, for the price of a single episode using traditional methods.
And unlike a traditional production in which the unused takes are discarded, every second of every shot, every journal entry made by a character, every notation in a log, piece of correspondence, file, report, recording and photograph is available on the web to support the television series. Whereas traditional film production is marked for its bloat, waste and grotesque inefficiency, a Bxx production rapaciously attacks and renders the narrative into hundreds of hours of entertainment content.
And so, in order to test our theory, we endeavored to see if we could wrangle the vast amount of raw footage and archival material into something that resembling a traditional feature film. So our intrepid editor, April, culled the scenes that conveyed our original story and assembled them into a 110 minute feature.
The results surprised and delighted us.
We plan on presenting BXX: HAUNTED – THE FEATURE on YouTube on August 1st.
That’s right, kids. Free. All you need is an internet connect and at least one working eyeball to see it.
So subscribe at http://www.youtube.com/user/bxxweb and be among the first to see the show. We’re certain it will inspire you to explore the rest of BxxWeb (if you haven’t already).
And if you’re a venture-capitalist or an entrepreneurial type, and you’re interested in helping a motley crew of artists and miscreants take Bxx to the next level, drop us a line.