Examples and ideas for extending a creative project
What are “extended experiences”? As a creative, you would be familiar with the promotional work you need to do around your film (or any project). You have press releases, posters, a website, a trailer. For the launch, you may hold a function and Q&A. And after the film, you may release a making-of, do how-to interviews, and if a documentary provide activism links.
But what your audiences engages with before and after your film, can actually be an in-fiction extension of it. The story could begin days before, and continue after we leave the cinema. There are a few reasons why you could do this:
- Content marketing is an effective way to attract new audiences in through an emotional commitment
- Content marketing can provoke discussion and therefore unpaid promotion
- You want to build-up the experience for your audience
- You want to follow-up and persist the experience with your audience
- You work in multiple artforms already, and so want to include them together
- You’re keen to explore new artforms and this is a great way to do it
- You already create these kinds of productions, and would like to stretch your skills further and meet with others working in this area
You may be attracted to a combination of these, or one. In my experience, the first two alone are not enough motivators to create great projects. If you care about the experience you’re giving your audience, and are always curious about being better at making creative projects, then you’re on the path to greatness.
At the lab, we’ll be looking at ways your can extend your creative project at three key stages: the pre-, during, and post-experience. I will be sharing strategies I have developed after working in this space for over 10 years (as a creator, mentor, juror, researcher, and educator for hundreds of productions around the world). The strategies I’ll share with you will be directly linked to your creative project (and target audience). But right now, here are some ideas for different artforms you can extend your films (or any projects) with!
You can set-up an environment that is thematically related to your film. It may be themed in a subtle but effective way, such as the beds people watched 28 Days Later on for Secret Cinema
If you have a bar in your film, you may want to replicate the experience:
You can take it a step further and create an escape room, which means you have a themed room with puzzles and an unfolding narrative.
Audio is a great way to get emotive and storydriven content for relatively lower cost. You can describe a tidal wave rather than do the special effects! There are different approaches you can take, some of which include:
I few years ago, I was consulting for Bangarra Dance Theatre. One of things we spoke about was their beautiful music, and how attendees could get into the mood by listening to the music (or specially-made tracks) on the way to the venue. People can play them at home, in their car, or on public transport.
You could create a radio play, like the radio program created for Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle, which I have written about before.
You could take the sound even further and create a walking tour guiding your audience on the way to the venue. Characters could reveal a prologue that builds up to the events of the film, by guiding people through the streets on the way to the venue. You can get inspiration from award-winning general tours, like SoundWalk:
Individual Active Audio Adventures
You can incorporate active participation from the listeners, and get them to do things in the space in response to the narrated instructions. See this example from the popular Zombies, Run! Apps. The App sets the scene of a zombie-infested world, with you playing a runner who is trying to survive in it.
But if you’re creating the whole experience, you could actually place things in the streets…as is depicted in this fan film:
Group Active Audio Adventures
Or you could do grouped activities, like the well-known Mp3 Experiments where everyone downloads an audio file, meets at a location, and then presses play at the same time. Below is a video of number “Seven”, but they’re up to 14!
Do you recall the term “epistolary fiction”? It an old term describing stories that are told with letters. Not real letters, but novels written as letters between people. The idea is that rather than narrating a story, it is told through the in-fiction artefacts of the characters. But you can take it further and create props that your audience can interact with at the venue, before or after.
The New York-based company Campfire created a scent box for HBO as part of the promotion of Game of Thrones:
You can create social media accounts for your fictional characters, and have your audience interact with them. An example is this fictional character, from the Paradigm Adventure Game, on the dating site Tinder:
Alternate Reality Games
Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) are games set in the real world. You don’t use a controller and interact with characters on a screen. Instead, the characters have social media accounts, email you, and may even meet you in the street (actors). Here is a video about the ARG that has run this year, for the forthcoming next Cloverfield movie coming out in 2018:
There are lots of other things you can do, some that you already work in too! At the workshop, we’ll be looking at a lot more possibilities, and coming up with quick and simple ways you can get the effect you want on a budget.
Extended Experiences Lab is conceived, organised, and curated by Christy Dena, Universe Creation 101. Twitter: @ChristyDena
In partnership with the West End Film Festival. Twitter: @WestEndFilmFest
With venue partner Griffith Film School: