Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Is Simon Wood Completely Bonkers?
HANK: Okay, so listen to this.
Let's say you wanted to write a crime fiction novel. What would you do? Short version: You'd get a computer, or a pad of paper, think of a story, write it down somehow, and hope a publisher buys it.
But not our Simon.
He has an idea---and he: writes a book, called LOWLIFES. So far, so typical. But then with a collaborator, he also does a short film. And a blog. And a whole bunch of other stuff. And then readers/viewers are supopsed to read/view all of it in whatever order, getting different secrets and insights and viewpoints from different parts. Put it all together, and...
Okay, my head is hurting. But it's brilliant. And trust me, Reds, this is the future. And it's called Transmedia. Simon Wood is here to explain it all!
HANK: Whoa. Tell us about your new project. Most authors just..write a book…
SIMON WOOD: LOWLIFES is a collaboration between filmmaker, Robert Pratten, and me, where we tell a story from different character points of view using various media. The book tells the story from point of view of the protagonist, a San Francisco Police Inspector.
The short film gives the viewpoint of a PI investigating the cop.
The fictional blog catalogs the thoughts and feelings of the cop’s estranged wife.
In the print edition, there's a secret short story told from the point of a view of a street preacher which can be accessed QR codes and the story emailed to your cell phone. The trendy term for this new kind of storytelling is transmedia.
HANK: Like I said. Whoa. (What's a QR code? Anyone? Anyone? Am I incredibly OLD? Oh--quick response. Yay for research. ) Sounds like 3-d chess. How did you guys work all this out? Were you and Robert Pratten pals? How did it evolve?
SIMON: I met Robert in Phoenix in 2003 at a conference when he was screening his first film and we stayed in touch ever since. Robert approached me about a year ago with the idea for multimedia story set in San Francisco’s tenderloin district. He gave me brief character profiles for the principal characters and the initial scenario of a cop investigating himself and his possible involvement in the death of a homeless man.
HANK: . Which came first? Or did you build each part as it went along and finish all at the same time?
SIMON: I am one of those people who tries to do everything at once, but I wrote the book first, the movie script second and the blog third. However, I did outline all three storylines before I wrote anything so that I knew how all three stories would intersect. As I completed each part, I handed them off to Robert for comment and edit. So there were a few changes made and gave Robert free reign to interpret my movie script any way he wanted when it came to imagery and filming locations.
HANK: . Yikes. I mean, yikes. Does each part make sense without the other part? Do you read and see them serially, or all at the same time?
SIMON: Robert’s main instruction was that each individual piece could be read as a standalone piece, but when read/watched in conjunction, the combined pieces would give a much fuller telling of the story. Our primary aim was to avoid filming scenes directly lifted from the book or blog and vice versa.
HANK: Transmedia. I'm thinking about this. Did working this way change the way your brain works? (It's making my head hurt...)
SIMON: Yes, it changed how my brain worked. I’m used to writing multiple points of view in my novels, so having differing perspectives to tell a story wasn’t a problem. The brain stretching came when to telling the story for different media. This was the first time I’d written a script and I hadn’t appreciated telling a story visually. Even the dialog had to be written in a way that would inspire or assist Robert with the filming. The blog was different again because it’s written in a very conversation style and at the same time, there's a confessional quality to it. At times, it did make my head hurt. To make all the individual pieces work took a lot of planning.
HANK: Forgive me, but...how do people buy this? Talk a little about marketing and promotion.
SIMON: http://www.lowlifes.tv/ is a dedicated website where people can experience the various facets of the story. Right now, we’re releasing it as a serial for free. Each day, a chapter from the book, a movie episode and/or entry from the blog will come available. People can sign up to receive the excerpts. If people don’t want to wait, they can buy the book, the DVD or download the book from Amazon, etc. There are links on the website.
HANK: What's been the reaction?
SIMON: It’s early days, but good so far. A couple of publishers interested to see how the concept develops. Someone else expressed interest in putting Lowlifes out as a complete interactive book. Readers are just getting to grips with it. Robert and I hope people respond well to "the Lowlifes" because we have a bunch of storylines we’d like to explore featuring these characters.
HANK: So...here's a question with an answer I know I'll understand. Whats the basic story?
SIMON: Lowlifes centers on Larry Hayes, a San Francisco Police Detective. He's lost his family to divorce and he's clinging to his career by a thread. All this stems from a painkiller addiction he can’t kick that he picked up from an on-the-job injury. He thinks his life has already hit rock bottom, but there's another level for Hayes to fall as he finds out when he wakes up in an alley after a bad trip with no memory of the last four hours.
He thinks this is the wakeup call he needs to turn his life around, his problems intensify when he receives a call from a homicide inspector. Hayes' informant, a homeless man named Noble Jon, lies dead two blocks away, beaten and stabbed. The eerie pang of guilt seeps into Hayes. During his lost four hours, he's been in a fight. His knuckles are bruised and there's blood under his fingernails.
Is he Jon's killer? The mounting evidence says so. To add insult to injury, his wife has employed a PI to dig up dirt on him to ensure she gets sole custody of their daughter. Hayes mounts an off-the-books investigation and disappears amongst the city’s homeless community to stay one step ahead of a murder charge.
HANK: SO. A blog, a book and a movie. Amazing. And there's also an interactive Game! Click HERE to play....and remember. You heard it here first.