Yesterday, Deadline posted a story about Ridley Scott’s intention to direct a new film connected to or extending the world envisioned in Blade Runner (1982), and the details so far seem pretty vague.
Scott’s return to Blade Runner has, however, been in the works for at least two years if not longer if you backtrack to Scott’s cross-platform, crowdsourced, Creative Commons project, Purefold.
If you were watching the transmedia/crossplatform news in June 2009, you might have caught the buzz about the Scott & AG8’s project, Purefold, which would take fans of Blade Runner into the future world of 2019 in a series of short films. Then in October 2009, the press release gave these intriguing details:
Purefold is the first product conceived by Ag8 and developed in partnership with Ridley and Tony Scott’s newly launched entertainment division Free Scott. Purefold is an open media franchise designed for brands, platforms, filmmakers, product developers and communities to collaboratively imagine our near future.
With a central theme ‘What does it mean to be human?’, the franchise explores the subject of empathy – a shared theme with Ridley Scott’s most compelling Science Fiction movie, Blade Runner.
The franchise contains infinite interlinked story lines, turned into short-format episodes by global talent pool of directors, and informed by real-time online conversations from the audience, which are harvested through FriendFeed, the world’s leading ‘life streaming’ technology site FriendFeed
Purefold content will be distributed according to the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license, giving both audiences, brands and platforms unprecedented equal use rights through their participation.
Then in November of 2009 at the MIT Futures of Entertainment 4 Conference, David Bausola and Tom Himpe of AG8 Mauricio Mota – Chief Storytelling Officer, co-founder The Alchemists; & Leo Sa – Petrobras, the brand partner working in development, gave an exciting presentation on the ambitious project, “Case Study: Transmedia Design and Conceptualization – The Making of Purefold.”
The presentation is still online here:
I posted an outline of the key details revealed in the presentation which I’m reposting here:
The presentation runs you through the following points:
- introduction to the history of Purefold
- use of narrative filters to harvest the web
- near future setting (but not an extension of Bladerunner specifically)
- will use networked storytelling
- will use an open license
Right off the top, David poses the key question: ‘how can you take this interactive transmedia storytelling production thingy & give it real deep human resonance?’
His answer was to turn to the engine of social media - empathy - as a core experience motivating networked communication.
Outlining the project, some of the key points are:
- creative commons will be key in terms of generating an audience’s stake in the project allowing for repacking & remixing
- following this, Purefold will play with an ‘open media franchise’ meaning that the near future setting of 2-3 years will allow the episodes to play with possible futures, drawn in some part from imaginings of the audience.
- Their plans here seem to be long term with episodes rolling out over a number of years after launch
- Brands will function as THE financial partners and brand placement will be of future prototypes not existing products, allowing for audience feedback on the products placed within these near future stories - brilliant
- they site the idea: “innovation is listening to the unexpected”
- listening will then be the aggregation of data from audience feedback & chat then looping that info back into story development
- The series will run with an overarching narrative to Purefold & each of the brands has its own character representing the brand
Each episode will have 2 parts:
- a proposition = what the advertiser wants to explore
- a synopsis = the character’s story is used to explore that
One example might be the mining of data around electric cars of interest to a brand partner, where the tags from that data might then become part of the inspiration for the writers.
David offers the fascinating idea that their social media aggregator, ‘Friendfeed, helps us dream, looking about the memories of what a episode should be. The best rises to the top, which lets the writers focus on the things. The writers can chose what they want.'
Following that talk, in this presentation “David Bausola, Tom Himpe (Ag8) and Luke Scott (Free Scott) talk about Purefold: an open media franchise designed for brands, platforms, filmmakers, product developers and communities to collaboratively imagine our near future.”
And then, in March 2010, the project officially collapsed because of irresolvable challenges with the Creative Commons license and AG8 gave a brief press release here:
Because I was extremely curious, I contacted Tom Himpe AG8 who was really generous in providing more details on the Creative Commons structure of the project and its collapse and the details became the backbone for a presentation I gave at CrossMedia To in March of 2010. It's archived as a slideshare presentation and a talk on Youtube, where you can get a sense of how far-reaching Purefold was.
So the question for 2011 is what will Ridley Scott be salvaging from Purefold’s extraordinary ambitious vision of a radically new entertainment production model? Scott has been key to a number of the most experimental approaches to filmmaking in the last two years, working with LG on Parallel Lines, and then again on the crowdsourced documentary, Life in a Day. Both Projects leveraged social media in ways that deeply engaged a global audience and I am going to guess that Scott will do something equally innovative with whatever the next iteration of Blade Runner is called.
I, for one, am now waiting on tenterhooks for what Scott will do next...
And if you need a refresher, the original Blade Runner trailer is here: