Saturday, November 5, 2011

Why Another Freaking Paranormal Deal?

It occurred to me from some of the comments that I’ve been reading around the net on BlackBxx (alarmingly few of them!) that some folks, particularly CARNIVÁLE fans, seem a little disappointed that I would choose to build my story around a paranormal investigation.  Hardly original, I’ll admit, but it was more out of necessity than choice.

You see, when I conceived BlackBxx, I knew that financing it would be extraordinarily difficult.  Since the form is unprecedented, it was impossible to develop a business plan projecting whether it could be done, and how large and what kind of an audience the concept would draw. 

Not only that, but because there’s nothing like it, the concept of BlackBxx is difficult to convey.  I imagine that when Edison invented the motion picture projector, he had similar challenges explaining it to potential investors.  “Gentlemen, I am going to print a series of photographs on a strip of acetate, each slightly different than the last.  I will then train a powerful beam of electric light through it to project the photographs upon a screen in very fast sequential order, which will present the illusion that the subject in the photographs is moving!  Isn’t that just splendid?  I have decided to call my invention the Vitascope!”
Odds are this was gibberish to prospective investors.  At some point, Edison probably got tired of talking it up and just built the damn thing.  And it was splendid!

As one journalist present at Edison’s first public demonstration of the Vitascope (funny, that name didn't stick) at Koster and Bial's Music Hall on Broadway put it, A view of an angry surf breaking on a sandy beach near a stone pier amazed the spectators.”  Hardly a harbinger of AVATAR, but at that point, the actual film Edison exhibited was clearly secondary to the means by which he was exhibiting it.
Our first BlackBxx project, HAUNTED, is similar to Edison’s first big boffo box-office hit, ANGRY SURF BREAKING ON A SANDY BEACH in that it is primarily a demonstration of a new means of storytelling. 

Since I had no idea whether BlackBxx was technologically feasible, I decided to create a story that would suit the format without presenting too many production challenges.  And since I’m financing the project out of my own pocket, it had to be delivered at a cost that wouldn’t bankrupt me if it failed to draw an audience.
Thus, the simple tried-and-true ruled the day, and I chose to write a paranormal investigation story to test the concept.  BlackBxx: HAUNTED is, by every definition, a beta version of the BlackBxx storytelling format, created simply to determine whether a.) it is possible to do; b.) there is an audience for it.

We’ve already answered the first question. 
We shattered a lot of significant obstacles.  For instance, I needed a scripting format which would support a number of different scenes, many performed simultaneously, over a 48-hour period of time (try finding that one in your version of Final Draft).  And we had to formulate a means by which we could rehearse the cast, which involved no less than an entirely new way to approach the characters.  And we had to build a reliable multiple camera system that would not only deliver picture and sound over the full two days, but output the content in an editable format.  And about a hundred other equally difficult challenges.

Nevertheless, we managed to get the picture in the can, though I still wish we could have shot HD (maybe next time).
As for the second question, we won’t know whether anyone will watch until we premiere it.  But I can tell you, though the raw picture and sound were far from top notch, everyone who was on monitors in that RV was completely mesmerized by the content we were capturing. 

I remember a few minutes in, saying to one of my producers, Douglas, “This is oddly compelling.”  An hour later, we were completely hooked, bouncing from one camera to the next to get audio. 

As one of the few people on earth who has actually seen what the BlackBxx format can deliver, I can tell you it is utterly immersive.  You literally cannot take your eyes off it!  Friends and family who popped by the RV “for a minute or two” found themselves hunkered down and watching for hours.

We weren’t directing.  We weren’t producing.  We were watching.  And believe me, that is something that rarely happens on a film-set.

And when it does, it’s magical.
This was way more awesome than ANGRY SURF BREAKING ON A SANDY BEACH!

So if you’ve decided not to back BlackBxx: HAUNTED because you’re disappointed in the subject-matter, consider this: You are not helping me make HAUNTED...

… you are helping me make BlackBxx. 

Even now, my mind is spinning with the potential stories that could be told once the format is a proven success—BlackBxx: MARS; BlackBxx: IRAQ; BlackBxx: 9/11; BlackBxx: TITANIC; BlackBxx: ZOMBIES; BlackBxx: IWO JIMA; BlackBxx: ASSASSINATION.
BlackBxx: (dare I say it) CARNIVÁLE?

The Kickstarter campaign got off to a great start—$20,000 raised in just the first 4 days—but it appears to have stalled out.  We only have 14 days to reach our funding goal, so if you haven’t made a pledge, please, please please, take a leap and help BlackBxx happen right now by clicking on the widget below

By the way, the morning after Edison’s fabulously successful demonstration of the Vitascope, the following appeared in the New York Times:
"[Mr. Edison] has bought, for about $5,000, two ancient, but still serviceable locomotives and a several dozen flat cars. He has built about a quarter of a mile of railroad track in a secluded spot, not far from his laboratory. In a few weeks he will start a train from each end of the track, and will run them to a crash... all the incidents of a train wreck will be caught by machines stationed at short intervals near the track."
Ooh.  BlackBxx: HEAD-ON…

1 comment:

  1. Hi. I have to tell you: I love the idea of Bxx! I just discovered it today and I can tell that it's going to be my newest addiction. I'm going to tell all my friends about it as well. Thanks for creating this!
    Also, Carnivale was one of the greatest shows ever made.