Half the Sky

The transmedia project Half the Sky is a global project with the message of fighting for basic gender equality and focus on helping women. A book of Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn with the same title inspired this multi-million dollar project and it is now being rolled out to the public. It operates on a numerous platforms such as broadcasting, Facebook, twitter, websites and online games. Celebrity appraisals from example Angelina Jolie and George Clooney have provided a high profile for this book – and now for the transmedia project.

By using this new strategy they want to easily reach their audience and use new ways of raising awareness and make people act. I think this is a very exciting and interesting way of a “charity” promotion and I think it will provide much needed focus on the current issues. Because it is not completely finished yet it’s hard to tell the outcome but the main focus will be the broadcasting, filmed in nine different countries showing what the problems are and how you can help. The specially designed games for older versions of mobile phones and computers is thought to be accessible for people in low-tech countries which means they would reach a lot of people often left out from this modern way of communication.

From the website of the game creators it is told that the audience interaction comes when stories are being told across all these platforms and then it is up to the audience to participate. It could be through a simple click on your phone and learning more about the project.

I like the design of the project and it is something that feels more modern and will reach a younger audience as well as the, in my opinion, target audience of women aged 25-50. Trouble is how they can make sure that it is something that will stay for a long time and continue to raise awareness and make people act. Because there are so many movements, organisations and information in the digital world they really have to make sure theirs is not lost. It will help a lot that they have celebrity people in the broadcastings and also important spokespeople such as Hillary Clinton. The Facebook game looks very promising by adding stories from real life and easy ways of volunteering or donating money it probably will reach a wide audience of people who haven’t read the book.

It is definitively a transmedia project, telling different stories on different platforms but with the same theme and goal. I would like to see previews of the broadcast material and in that way create a buzz before the actual premiere, they write about setting up websites to show behind the scenes but I think now would also be a good time to use YouTube for example before the premiere in 2012.

It is an important message that I hope people will engage with and make a change to the world together, with help from this huge project.

More info on the Project

Half the Sky website



Who are you, Dexter Morgan?

The American TV series Dexter is now on its sixth season and is based on the books by Jeff Lindsay. The plot is about Dexter, the serial killer who works as a bloodstain analyst with FBI in Miami. He kills people based on a code and generally hunts the “bad guys”. The show is hugely popular and for the premiere of the fifth season in 2010, Showtime hired the creative agency Modernista to create a new exciting way of promoting it. What they came up with was a complex and interactive transmedia game where the audience were involved in finding a serial killer on the loose.

It all begun with a bloody live murder scene at the Comic-Con expo in 2010 where all the participants could witness first hand the work of the so-called Infinity killer. At the location people were directed to the website of an FBI agent called Dee (serialhuntress) where she explained her new crowd sourced investigation method, Justice by all. Through Dee’s video blogs and written material people all over the world collected clues and discussed the murders on forums. This provided a perfect start for Dexter fans since it was a puzzle to be solved and the concept of the series is to solve murders and serial killers. It triggered a mass hunt for the Infinity killer and people soon discovered another website through the clues (sleepsuberbly.com) where they met a character called F8 and his twitter page which he updated with cryptic messages.

The whole design and concept of this transmedia game is very well executed and fits perfectly with the Dexter “vibe”. It had so many twists and turns and in an interview the agency Modernista even said that the people creating one website had no idea about the connection to the others which meant the game was kept “real” and surprising. Throughout the hunt people were constantly directed to different twitter accounts and had to create their own video blogs and material to release new clues.

This transmedia project was spread over most available platforms with numerous websites, twitter accounts, video clips, blogs and real life experience. It even showed the symbol of the Infinity killer in the actual Dexter series on the corner of a door, leading people to believe that maybe this wasn’t the end. As an experience for the audience I think it was very intriguing and interesting to be a part of it from the beginning but if you discovered it later on you might not have been able to engage as much. The finale was the confrontation between Dee and F8 where the audience by live streaming and voting chose who lived and who died. It was Justice by all and the infinity killer was killed, although afterwards some cryptic message was sent on his twitter page. This project has been future proofed in a sense that they left the ending open, did the killer really die or not? People are still engaging on the forums and if they were to begin a new hunt the basis would already be there.

Shh..tell no one

This is the slogan of the film community Secret Cinema whose stated mission is to change the way we watch films. The whole concept is built upon secrecy, when signing up you do not know which film you are going to watch or where. Instead you are given clues via email, Facebook updates and twitter and are encouraged to engage with other Secret Cinema goers to build on the secrecy. Their own definition of the concept is “challenging and ground-braking cinema, screening mystery films in extraordinary locations”. It has been around since 2008 and has now grown to over 103,000 followers on Facebook and even spread to other parts of the world with branches in Paris and Berlin.

So how is this new cinema experience affecting the audience? It allows the audience to engage before the actual screening and on the night you are transformed into this “surreal reality” where you actually become a part of the film you are about to watch. Having been a part of Secret Cinema for the screening of one flew over the Cuckoo’s nest I must say that it left memories for life and was something completely different. We were participating in activities and changing the story of the film as we went along, it was a feeling of being immersed into the film. Being surrounded by actors and main characters from the film you easily slipped into the role of being just another mental patient. It is demanding the audience to take part because without that the experience would be lost.

The whole concept of it being a secret is well kept through all of the different online platforms. Their website is dark, mysterious and does not provide a lot of information as with the rest of their online platforms such as Facebook, twitter and blog. It is all based on you registering and then for them to contact you. Their audience range from young to middle age and I think their design of Secret Cinema is meeting the expectations of the audience where it doesn’t matter how old you are.

This project is a good example of a transmedia project however. It is based on a feature film and then spread across digital platforms and the interactive screening. It is making the audience participate in new ways instead of just going to the cinema where you sit down, watch and leave. It is a way for you to change the story, change what happens and create your own. You are always surrounded by updates, clues and other projects via their online platforms where you can comment and get involved in between events. I do not think it should expand to other platforms because that would make it less of a secret and Secret Cinema is already available on the most commonly used ones. Those platforms already cover everything you might want with updates, films, pictures and opportunities for the audience to communicate with each other.

After all, what is Secret Cinema without a bit of secrecy surrounding it?