Some aspects of the project reminded me of other films: The storyline of The Inside Experience reminded me immediately of the Saw films, in which the victims are held captive, just like Christina. This similarity is further reinforced when Christina sees she is being watched, which also happens to the victims in the Saw films. The concept of being trapped with only one form of technology reminded me of the film Buried. Within this film the main character is trapped and only has a Blackberry smart phone, which relates to The Inside Experience as Christina is in the same situation, but with a laptop instead.
When Christina goes to connect to the internet it seems a bit of a coincidence that the only network available is one in her name. This gives the impression that the network must have been set up specifically for her, and thus makes the audience assume the captor created it. The character of Kirk within TIE comes into the story as being MIA (missing in action). This immediately seems like a coincidence, and both Christina and the audience assume Kirk must be the captor. Although further into the storyline this idea is dismissed.
On day 4 of TIE Christina is contacted via email by Stu MacArthur. Already this seems strange as it is not certain how Stu got hold of Christina’s email address. This uncertainty is further reinforced when Stu asks Christina to go onto her Skype account, where coincidentally he is already a contact. Day 10 of TIE brings around the end of the laptops battery life, meaning Christina no longer has the ability to community with people. Despite this she still somehow knew where to go when she escaped, even though participants only worked out these details for themselves after the laptop battery died.
Facebook is used within TIE to allow participants to communicate with Christina. The communication that occurs from participants to Christina includes messages of support, as well as advice on what to do (for example looking for clues). Communication via Facebook also occurs from Christina to the participants of the project. These were typically structured as either Vlogs, images or status’s. Christina’s communication with participants often contained clue’s, which allowed participants to gradually work out her whereabouts. Christina used Facebook as a investigation tool, particularly to find out information about her ex boyfriend (Kirk). She visited Kirk’s profile at one point, to find that he was MIA (missing in action). This created suspicion around Kirk’s character and made participants think he could have had something to do with Christina’s capture.
The captor uses Facebook as a resource on which to publicly humiliate Christina: The first instance of this can be seen when he told Christina to create a video in which she needed to plead for ‘Likes’. If this video received enough likes the captor said he would give Christina food. Further into TIE it became apparent to participants that the captor had placed a camera into the shower head. He then went on to turn the water to Christina’s room on, and filmed her whilst she showered. This video was ultimately uploaded to the internet, with a link being placed onto Christina’s Facebook wall.
The use of Facebook within TIE I feel was overall beneficial for a number of reasons. The site allowed for ideas and clues to be compiled in a place that was accessible to both participants and the character of Christina. Also the site allowed for communication to be carried out rapidly and efficiently. The number of ways that communication could occur was high on Facebook, as it gave users the option to upload videos, images or simply text. In comparison to other social networking sites, I feel that Facebook was the best one to have been chosen for the purpose it served in The Inside Experience. This is because it gave the participants and Christina more options when communicating, which other sites like Twitter do not provide.
Skype is used within the storyline of The Inside Experience, meaning it does not actually act as anotherplatform for communication between the participants and Christina.Christina uses Skype to communicate with Stu MacArthur on two occasions:Day 4 An email direct from Stu alerted Christina that the firewall was down, and told her to try Skype. Christina goes on to follow this advice and their conversation via Skype begins. Like I have previously stated, the idea that Stu already had Christina’s email and Skype addresses seems very coincidental, maybe showing a slight flaw in the production of the project. Within this first conversation Stu goes on tell Christina that he thinks he knows where she is being held, asking her to copy and paste the IP address of her laptop to confirm this. With this information matching up Stu initiates a police raid of the location, showing Christina footage of it through the use of webcam. The footage shown to Christina puts both her and the audience under a false pretence, as ultimately it turned out to not be the place that Christina was being held.Day 6 Stu again talked to Christina via Skype on day six, but instead of trying to plan another rescue he was simply informing her of the situation. He told her for example that Kirk was still missing and that he was a person of interest.Despite not being used in the communication between Christina and participants, I feel that Skype was anecessary online tool to be used in the project. This is because it allowed for the character of Stu MacArthurto be bought into the storyline in an effective way. As well as this the use of Skype allowed for a possiblerescue to occur, with evidence (footage) to allow participants to fully believe it.
Similarly to Skype, Twitter is used within The Inside Experience to allow for communication between two characters,rather than Christina and the participants. The site is used to connect Christina to her father, h1ghway_man. The first instance of this communication occurred when h1ghway_man posted a tweet, in which he mentioned Christina; "I know you love that music box. Try to remember how it felt the first time you opened it. It was always your escape". At this point it was unknown to participants that the h1ghway_man was Christina’s father, and therefore this comment have come across as quite sinister. Although upon the realisation that he was indeed her father, this comment would seem more like a advice. The use of Twitter in this instance can be seen as a positive thing as it is helping Christina to cope with the situation, by allowing her to get support from her father. Communication between the two characters occurs again later in the storyline, where h1ghway_man posts a tweet talking about how much Christina means to him. Within this tweet he also states the he is going to find the person who has taken her captive. Overall I feel that this tweet reinforces the idea that despite not spending time with Christina, her father never forgot about or stopped loving her. Also the comment showed a sense of pride within his character when he said "the greatest pleasure in my life has... always been you".Twitter is only really used for the one-way communication of the h1ghway_man to Christina, as Christina tries to replyin the second instance, but is not able to due to her laptop battery dying. Despite this I feel that the use of Twitterallowed for the connection between Christina and her father to be in some ways rekindled.
I personally did not have the time to keep track of the Kill Cam Live project, I felt a good way to gather information on it would be to create a questionnaire. Within this questionnaire I asked a range of questions and got two people, who I know where following the project closely, to answer them.The questions I asked were as follows:1. Briefly summarize what Kill Cam Live is...2. What aspects of the project have made you so interested in it?3. In what ways have you taken part in the project?4. Did your participation in the project ultimately effect what happened within it?5. How well do you feel the project has been carried out so far?6. Has the project proven to be what you expected you expected it to be?7. Would you recommend this project to others?
I decided to create a summary answer for each question, incorporating information from the responses Igot from the questionnaire:1. A brief summary of the project…Kill Cam live is an online social film experience, which some may say is the first truly interactive one of itskind. The experience incorporates the theme of horror to interest and persuade users to take part in it. Thestory of Kill Cam Live is based around a group of students who are taking part in a social media experimentbeing carried out by their professor. Users are given the opportunity to take part in live streaming events, inwhich they can talk directly to other users and even characters from the film. Weekly episodes areuploaded onto YouTube, along with Facebook and Twitter status for characters in the film being updatedon a regular basis.2. Interesting aspects of the project…Participation in the experience has been due to a number of factors. Aydenn states that he chose toparticipate because he feels it is "very different to other examples of social film which currently exist". Thiswas reinforced by Andrew who said the experience was "new and different". The theme of horror was alsospoken about within the questionnaires, with Aydenn saying it was one of the aspects which drew him tothe project and Andrew disagreeing with this. It can be assumed that a lot of the users of Kill Cam Live wereattracted to the experience because of its theme, as horror is a popular theme. Finally Aydenn talkedabout how he felt like he had a say as to whether a character lived or died. This is interesting as it impliesthat individuals are having an effect on the story line of the experience.
3. Participation in the project…Aydenn and Andrew are taking part in multiple aspects of the Kill Cam Live experience. Both of them haveparticipated in the live streaming events, with Andrew using only text and Aydenn using both text andwebcam. The two have also watched the episodes posted on YouTube, along with participating on Twitterand Facebook, through commenting the characters, in particular the killer.4. Participation and its effect on the on the project…Both Aydenn and Andrew have been quite high profile throughout the Kill Cam Live experience, but bothhave different views on whether they actually affected the outcome of the experience. Andrew talkedabout how despite being very involved in the project, he did not think "anything I have done had impactedon what the killer does". Despite this he does say that overall he is part of the story, due to his highinvolvement in it. On the other hand Aydenn believes his participation "shaped how the project turns out",whether that be through the live streaming or through voting polls (set up by the killer). He goes on to saythat there is no other comparison on the internet that has anywhere near the same amount of interactivityas Kill Cam Live does.5. Comments on how the project is being carried out… The way Kill Cam Live has been carried out can be both critiqued and praised. Technical issues towardsthe start of the experience may have put people off and maybe even stopped people taking part. Aydenntalks about how he feels that the characters are not "fleshed out enough to actually build an opinion ontheir personality". This was quite apparent with the character of Amber, who was seen in one episode andthen killed off. Despite this the experience can be praised for its efforts at keeping social sites such asFacebook and Twitter updated, particularly for the students.
6. Would the project be recommended…With social films such as The Inside Experience to compare to, Kill Cam Livewas expected to be just as good. Although, like Aydenn states, the Kill CamLive team do not have as big a budget and access to better actors,showing a slight downfall in what was expected of the experience. Andrewtalks about how he knows what to expect from the project each week dueto it being "set into the pattern of the weekly live streams". He says that thismeans the outcome from week to week can be predicted (one or morepeople will be killed).7. Was the project what it was expected it to be… Finally the questionnaire asked if they would recommend Kill Cam Live toothers. Neither said no completely, but Aydenn did say "I dont want toomany people taking part". Andrew talked about how he thought that "theseare rare and experimental development that need to be experienced tounderstand". I feel creating and implementing this questionnaire allowed me to gather a video knowledge on the project as a whole. It overall saved me time as it meant I did not have to research all the information myself.
A group of university students agreed to take part in a social experiment that their lecturer, Michael Grayson, was carrying out. The experiment involved the group going ‘offline’ for a week. This meant they weren’t allowed to use the internet, their mobile phones etc. Ultimately the project has gone on with a number of the characters being killed off. The reasons for people being killed varied, from not sticking to the experiments rules, to cheating on a partner.
Participation within the project Kill Cam Live occurs in anumber of ways On the projects homepage users can watch a live stream of the ‘kill room’, in which the students have been killed off within. Also on the homepage there is a live chat area, which allows participants to communicate, via both text and webcam, to one another. At some points in the project participants can also communicate to characters that are being held in the ‘kill room’ using this live chat. There is an option to sign up to the emailing list of the Killer within the project. The emails received detail what the killer wants participants to do, for example create videos to tell others what has happened in the story so far.
On Facebook participants have the option befriend and like a number of pages. For example each character has a personal page, as well as the killer. These allow for participants to communicate directly to the individual characters. Participants also have the option to sign up to the killers blog on Tumblr, which contains similar information to that distributed using the emailing list.Within Kill Cam Live users are given a large number ofplatforms on which to participate in the project. I feel this isand can only be a benefit to the project, as it means theuser has a choice on how and when they want toparticipate, whether that be taking part in the live chats orsimply watching the episodes.
Lonelygirl15 was an online interactive video series whichfollowed the fictional life of a teenage named Bree. Theseries began in June 2006 and ran up until August 1st 2008. Asit went on the series grew in size and gained multiplecharacters, but the fictional nature of the project was notrevealed until September 2006. Before this point people knewof lonelygirl15 as a YouTube user that gained high popularitythrough her Vlogs. Despite the creation of a personalMySpace page for Brees character, suspicions arose aboutthe true nature of lonelygirl15 when someviewers recognized the actress playing Bree.
The videos posted onto Brees YouTube channel started offbeing based about normal everyday problems, especiallythose relating to teenage problems. These videos thenbecame a lot more bizarre, beginning to be based on topicssuch as her refusal to attend a "secret ceremony prescribedby the leaders of the familys cult" (Wikipedia), which resultedin the disappearance of Brees parents.To celebrate the finale of Season 1 Lonelygirl15 took part inan event called "12 in 12" on MySpace, which involved 12videos being uploaded over 12 hours. These videos followedBree’s friends and boyfriend (Daniel) as they tried to find her.This event received the highest viewing numbers of the wholeseries. The finale of Season 1 involved the character of Breebeing killed off. This was necessary as the actress playing herdid not wish to renew her contract for series two
To partner lonelygirl15 a spin off series called Kate Modern wascreated. The series started in July 2007 and ended June 2008.Produced by a production company called EQAL and being inpartnership with Bebo allowed the series to gain popularity. Thepopularity of the series first season meant it was able to continueinto the creation of a second series in 2008.Videos uploaded during Kate Modern were first done so to thesites Bebo and lg15.com. These were then uploaded to YouTubea hour later. This delay meant that Bebo and lg15.com userswere in the know before everyone else.
Their were a number of similarities between KateModern and Lonelygirl15, one of these being thestorylines. Both followed the lives of a young girlintrigued by the idea of impure blood.The two series did merge for a period of two weeks.Bother series also included product integration, but itwas more apparent within Kate Modern.
Firstly I feel that social film has not been completely defined in TIE. This is because users were not given enough platforms on which to participate in the experience. All participation was based around Facebook, where participants could comment on Christinas profile, and also view anything that she posted to her wall. Compared to other social film experiences, this use of only one participation platform seems limited. The outcome of the experience did not seem to be affected by user participation. This is because the episodes posted from day to day were pre-recorded and showed no evidence of incorporating participant’s comments/views. It was only in the final film, created when the experience had finished, that comments from participants were shown. Despite this these comments were only a few of many, and would have been handpicked by the production team to fit with the storyline of the pre-recorded episodes. I feel that the lack of participants influence within TIE was one if its major downfalls, and would have discouraged people to carry on participating within the experience.
The storyline of TIE was not ‘bulked out’ enough, particularly with the idea of how Christina was kidnapped. The participants are given no clue as to how she got into that room or who has kidnapped her. The ending is similar, with Christina appearing at the station. This seemed strange to participants because Christina’s laptop battery died before participants were able to work out that she would be there at a specific time. This lack of back story created an inconsistent storyline throughout the experience. Participants were not given enough information about the characters (except Christina). This meant that when certain characters came into the story (such as Kirk and Christina’s father), the participants jumped to conclusions about them, due to the lack of information given. An example of this is Kirk, who when bought into the story as being ‘MIA’, I jumped to the conclusion that he could have been Christina’s captor. As the story went on it became obvious that this was not the case and that it was silly to think so in the first place, but that it is the lack of information about his character that caused me to do this.
The level of participation within projects such as Kill Cam Live and The InsideExperience I feel is dependent upon a number of aspects. The first of these is the number of opportunities the users are given to participate within the project. For example, within TIE users were only really able to participate through Facebook, yet in Kill Cam Live users could participate through live chats, social networking sites etc. Another aspect that participation depends on is individuals interest in the project itself. If the topic of a project is not something a person is in interested in, they will simple not choose to participate in it. For example Kill Cam Live would attract the sort of people that are interested in horror films, as it is very similar to films from this genre. Finally I feel that projects like these need to stay interesting throughout the duration. If this is not done successfully the project could loose out on participants and thus go down in popularity.In relation to this I feel that participation can be split up into two categories:- Online involvement- Physical involvement
Online involvement I feel is any participation in aproject that occurs online. Main forms of online involvement include participating in these projects through social networking sites, such as Facebook, Bebo etc. An example of this could be the use of Facebook within Kill Cam Live. The online site is used to give participants the option to take part in the project wholly or partially. This is dependent on the amount of characters the participant befriends and/or pages they join on Facebook.
Physical involvement is anything which takes place mostly offline.Crowd sourcing Crowd-sourcing can be classed as a form of physical involvement within social film. This is when a task is undertaken by a group of people rather than an individual. A prime example of this is Star Wars Uncut, in which a group of fans recreated the film. The first step of this was that the producers cut the film up into 15 second clips, which were then distributed to the fans. The fans then went on to recreate their assigned 15 second clip in their own way (see below). These clips were then bought back together by the producers and created into an alternative version of the film. This is a good example of crowd-sourcing in a social way, as a group has worked together to create the final outcome, a recreation of a Star Wars film.
Crowd funding Crowd funding is another form of physical involvement that is present in social film. Similar to crowd sourcing a group of people undertake a task, but in this case it is to raise the money needed for a film project. The concept is fairly new but is becoming widely popular, as it gives those who would not typically have the money to create a film, the chance to do so. A dedicated site called Crowd Funder, allows users to sign up and pitch their film project to the online community. If a user then decides they like the concept of the film, then can choose to donate to it, with different rewards being given for different amounts (see below for example). Sites like this are giving social film a new meaning, as they allow for people to get involved in the production, without physically doing so. Also, they are allowing people to create higher budget videos without going into debt or worrying about how they can get hold of the money needed.
Finally within this section I decided to talkabout my views on the concept of socialfilm and how I feel it may be wronglydefined. I personally feel that these socialfilms would be better described as ‘socialexperiences’. Despite this I will briefly go onto talk about how projects such as TheInside Experience could be defined aseither a social film or experience.
Episodes within projects such as TIE were pre-recorded, meaning they had a set start, middle and end. The idea of this relates to film as like the project, films have a TIE I feel was a downfall of the project, as it allowed for no changes to occur in the storyline of the project. Overall this meant that users participation did not have an effect on the overall outcome of the project. The concept of film is further added to with the idea there is only one storyline throughout these projects. Take Kill Cam Live for example, where the basic storyline is that a person is killing off a group of students who are taking part in a social experiment. This single storyline differs to typical episodic projects, such as televisions series, which contain multiple storylines taking place in one episode.
The episodic nature of online interactiveprojects such as Kill Cam Live and TheInside Experience can sway the favourto the term ‘social experience’. This isbecause when watching a film, it isusually done in a block. By this I meanthat films are usually watched all theway through, rather than beingstopped and started again at a laterdate. This idea is similar to that oftelevision series where the storyline issplit into episodes; which are thenshown on television at different points.
Another idea that favours the term ‘social film’ is that some of theseonline interactive projects are created like a Hollywood productionwould be. The main example of this is The Inside Experience, in whichthe budget of the project was obviously a reasonable amount. Thisbudget it can be assumed, was only so great due to the projects aim,to advertise a new product for Intel. Also within the project theproduction team used a reasonably famous actress. These aspects alladd to the idea that the project was similar to a Hollywood production,and thus could be define as a ‘social film’ rather than ‘experience’.Regardless of this, not all of these kinds of projects are created like aHollywood production. A good example of this is Kill Cam Live, where itis obvious to the viewer that the budget is not a great amount. This maybe because the project did not have sponsors and was not created tosell a product, like The Inside Experience was. Another reason for thislack of budget could simple be that the producers did not have muchmoney.
Interactivity within certain online projects I feel limits them frombeing defined as a ‘social film’. This is because typically films arenot interactive, people simply sit down and watch them. Whereas within online projects such as Kill Cam Live users are givenmultiple platforms on which to interact with the project as awhole. This can be seen in Kill Cam through the use of multiplesocial networking sites such as Facebook an Twitter.Despite this it could be said that some films are interactive. Anexample would be the 1967 film Kinoautomat by Radúz Činčera.At multiple points during the film the action would stop, and acommentator would appear on the screen asking the audienceto choose between two scenes. A vote was then taken and thescene with the highest votes was then played. The idea that theaudience themselves could ultimately choose the outcome ofthe film, I believe is what defines this as a ‘social film’.
Online interactive projects are typically carried out in real time. Thismeans that when the participants are watching or taking part insomething related to the project, it can be said that it is happening atthat same point in time. An example of this in Kill Cam Live is the livestreaming, which like the name suggests, happens live. These real timeaspects of the projects I feel stops them from being defined as socialfilms’, as films are typically set over a period of time rather than just thefew hours that they are on for.Despite this it could be interpreted that some aspects of onlineinteractive projects are similar to that of a film, the main one of thesebeing the episodes. Take Kill Cam Live as an example where theepisodes are set over one or multiple days, just like films. The lack of realtime in these episodes means that these could contribute to onlineinteractive projects being defined as ‘social films’ rather than‘experiences’.
From the ideas I have stated I have come to theconclusion that online interactive projects such asKill Cam Live and The Inside Experience would bebetter defined as ‘social experiences’. My mainreason for this is the episodic nature of theprojects, which helps to dismiss the idea that theprojects are film-like, as films are seen in bulk notin episodes. Another reason for this conclusion isthat I feel the interactivity of the projects meansthey cannot be defined as films, as films aretypically not interactive. Finally my last reason forthis conclusion is that the projects are oftencarried out in real time, which again films are not.
SLASHERBOB (2004) Image from Saw 1 [Online image] Available from: http://www.slasherbob.com/movies/saw/ [Accessed: 08/12/11] CHRISANDPHILEPRESENT (2011) Image from Buried [Online image] Available from: http://www.chrisandphilpresent.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Buried1.jpg [Accessed: 08/12/11]The Inside Experience screenshots taken from videos on: THEINSIDEEXPERIENCE (2011) YouTube Channel [WWW] Available from: http://www.youtube.com/user/TheInsideExperience [Accessed: 08/12/11]Kill Cam Live screenshots taken from: KILLCAMLIVE (NA) Kill Cam Live Official site [WWW] Available from: http://killcamlive.com/main.html [Accessed 08/12/11].Lonelygirl15 screenshots taken from: YOUTUBE (2006) Lonelygirl15 YouTube channel [WWW] Available from: http://www.youtube.com/user/lonelygirl15 [Accessed: 08/12/11].Kate Modern screenshots taken from: YOUTUBE (2007) Kate Modern YouTube channel [WWW] Available from: http://www.youtube.com/user/KateModernLG15 [Accessed: 08/12/11].Star Wars Uncut screenshots taken from videos found on: STARWARSUNCUT (NA) Star Was Uncut website [WWW]. Available from: http://www.starwarsuncut.com/ [Accessed: 08/12/11].Crowd funding screen shots taken from: CROWDFUNDER (NA) Different Perspectives feature film [WWW]. Available from: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/investment/different-perspectives-feature-film- 270 [Accessed: 08/12/11].