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DID YOU READ

Film’s shifting definition in the transmedia age.

Film’s shifting definition in the transmedia age. (photo)

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As I was watching Jeff Deutchman’s documentary “11/4/08” a few weeks back at SXSW, it occurred to me that his “consensual piece of cinema” — shot by professionals and amateurs on Obama’s inauguration day and ending with a title card asking for more footage to be collected online via the film’s website and eventually added onto the existing product — wasn’t a film; it was some new hybrid of the medium in which the movie was only one piece of the puzzle.

With that in mind, “11/4/08” should most certainly be the one of the selections of the inaugural DOC NYC Festival, “New York’s first and only festival celebrating documentary storytelling across the fields of film, photography, prose, radio and other innovative forms” curated by Thom Powers and Raphaela Neihausen, the minds behind the IFC Center’s ongoing Stranger Than Fiction documentary series. There will be all the staples of a traditional film festival with panels, world premieres and retrospectives during the festival’s November 3-7 run, but as Powers told All These Wonderful Things’ AJ Schnack, “We very specifically did not call it a film festival.”

Coincidentally, this news came on the heels of the Producers Guild announcement of the union’s rare ratification of a new credit for their members to pursue: “Transmedia Producer,” which for the majority of the public will mostly mean that those names you see on the bottom of movie posters just got a little bit longer. But for the movie industry, it marks a new way of recognizing that movies are no longer limited to what you’re seeing on screen. The new tag applies to any “narrative project or franchise consist[ing] of three (or more) narrative storylines existing within the same fictional universe on any of the following platforms: Film, Television, Short Film, Broadband, Publishing, Comics, Animation, Mobile, Special Venues, DVD/Blu-ray/CD-ROM.” (Understandably, marketers will not be allowed to apply for the credit, despite the fact that the viral campaigns for films like “Tron Legacy” are getting to be as narratively ambitious as what they’re promoting — and scrutinized as such.)

04072010_SouthlandTalesPrequel.jpgOf course, the lack of an official title hasn’t prevented filmmakers from going beyond the scope of their films in the past. Richard Kelly famously penned a prequel for “Southland Tales” and Zack Snyder, realizing he couldn’t make a five-hour “Watchmen,” went the animated route to tell the “Tales of the Black Freighter,” which would eventually be reincorporated into his ultimate cut of the film on DVD.

Yet by turning what was once a luxury for multimedia-savvy filmmakers into a professionally recognized credit, the Producers Guild legitimized a whole new field for storytellers where film isn’t the center of attention. Not surprisingly when Liz Shannon Miller at NewTeeVee collected professional opinions on the subject, the consensus emerged that the new “transmedia producer” credit would be likely applied most to franchises from the major studios, since they already are part of major conglomerations with the ability to compliment each other on a bunch of different platforms. However, it’s the opposite end of the spectrum who could benefit from this most — artists who have long prized film as a medium but are burdened by budget and tight shooting schedules could be more encouraged to flesh out their stories elsewhere as as the stigma of parallel platforms subsides. (Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s HitRecord.org is threatening to become a pioneer in this particular arena.)

It’s not that transmedia is a new concept; movies, after all, are a collision of many different artforms and now can be seen in a variety of different ways. But between a festival and an official title in its honor, it’s well on its way to becoming the text rather than being viewed as an addendum to it.

[Photos: Doc NYC, DocNYC.net, 2010; “Southland Tales: The Prequel Saga,” Graphitti Designs, 2007]

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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:

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The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.

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They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!

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Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.

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Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.