Sometimes, I get a little giddy when I think about all that the internet revolution has done to create opportunities for breaking down creative barriers. It isn’t as if before the blog, storytelling was completely separated from the visual arts: paintings tell stories, and so do stained glass windows in churches. But the evolution of storytelling begun by the printing press, which was continued by the combination of rapid photography and the projector, has accelerated in the age of the internet. The Internet allows creators to take their product directly to the public like never before. Kickstarter stands at the center of the whirlwind. The use of technology to expand and change storytelling has led to an unstoppable, multifaceted explosion of creativity.
This rapid evolution has helped develop a group of creators fascinated with stories that play in the margins between different types of media. One excellent example is the fine story by Brian Selznick, The Invention of Hugo Cabret. That wonderful (graphic) novel plays stupendously on the boundary between a text and a picture book, and its content is all about the wonder and magic of the early film industry. It is simply a fabulous work.
But there are other, more ambitious efforts underway to kick open the boundaries between the physical world and the digital world in storytelling. One of those efforts just went up on Kickstarter last night. Whenabouts combines elements of film, gaming, reading, and good old fashioned detective work to create a storytelling adventure for tweens.
Sometime just before Christmas, packages will arrive in the mail addressed to tweens. Inside the packaging will be a wooden crate. The box will contain a diary with clues and the introduction to the online adventures of two teenagers who have made the mistake of borrowing their father’s time machine and are now trying to get home. Over the course of the next six months, boxes containing clues will arrive once every two weeks leading to more online content from indie point and click adventure games to short films, twisting a serialized adventure together with the nostalgia of waiting for the post.
Whenabouts is the brainchild of Steve Hardy, whose original concept had been a kind of mail order gift company. The idea was to send recipients a great little wooden box which would lead to high-quality personalized online content from the giver, along with a gift card, or a charitable donation. That company never achieved sustained flight but left Hardy with an infrastructure in place and a whole lot of information and experience which he brings to the table when creating Whenabouts.
Hardy had always thought his mail order concept could be adopted to storytelling, and after his original concept failed, he has been working with Jason Whiting, a Toronto based comedian and writer, to create an adventure for tweens. I asked Hardy what he is looking forward to the most if his Kickstarter campaign succeeds. Hardy said that he was really excited to work with all the different creative talents from indie game designers to movie makers and actors. “The joy for me is to pull all those threads together and make something from all the creative work.”
The Whenabouts Kickstarter campaign runs through September 17th — however, there are some really great early bird specials, including the main package at well over half off the listed price, so don’t wait. While you’re at it, check out some of the other great projects we have on our GeekDad curated Kickstarter page.