From Director Jay Ferguson -Creating Guidestones TV
3 o clock TV, Toronto Ontario
It was Jay Ferguson’s 1st time creating anything like this. His company, 3 o’clock tv was opened only a few years ago. Guidestones became an experiment based on research.
“It was never intended to be an ARG” (Alternate Reality Game) according to Jay.
The Guidestones project was designed as a push out style with the option of a more traditional liner version using a condensed to 34 episodes (available soon). Less then a year from it’s PUSH launch, it has been confirmed that the linear version will be available on HULU, itunes(Canada), and as part of a Youtube Channel although those details are not defined yet.
The series was created to be consumed by both“ gamers” and “bingers”
Creators hope to increace the numbers of participants in the PUSH version and engage with them in hope they will bring this audience to the linear version.
“ I built Guidestones because it was something that I would like to see…like the Devinchi Code book that made you want to engage with google beside you.”
There was not alot of money.
It was shot “Run and Gun” using his expertise as a cinematogropher to make it look good on a small budget. It was shot by either Jay himself or friend Rob Barnett.
Shot with a Digital SLR- Canon 70
Production crew was tiny- in India and Georgia, sometimes as small as 5 including the two actors.
It took 3 years from thought to launch.
Lack of production resources was not the biggest challenge.
The most challenging part was that every change to the script had a ripple effect on all of the online properties
this made the script very complicated. Jay states that it was a process of writing it, writing it again in production, on set reality was different then writing it again in post.
“Doing this became a blend of fact and fate”
- 8 months in production, with a leisurely 8-10 hour/day
- 3-4 weeks Toronto, 1 week in Georgia, 1 week in India
- Post was the kicker as all the elements of web and film needed to come together.
- Before locking an episode online properties needed to be created, and sites linked to other sites
- Designers were waiting and many cuts were made with SLUGS like “Picture of keystone app”
- You will never see it but an effects team needed to edit numbers on the Samsung phone and edit in new ones in post.
Jay describes it as
“ an incredibly intense Labyrinth “
“everything would have a ripple effect”
“ I’m not a web guy- I ‘ve never built sites and here I am having to oversee the design of websites”
- how to make it look a certain way
- how to get gps coordinates to open up a google map
- how to create websites that were “ Google Clean” a phrase we termed for taking you to the place you are intended to go.
The digital team included:
- A graphic designer
- Website builder
- 3 people to buy urls
- people to develp a presense on Linkedin and my space
- 2 x editors full time
- 2-3 additional editors at points
- a media manager
- effects supervisor
- effects editor
- and Brad Sears who designed the Push system and email system which is unique to us
Like a classic indie film style, they made the project then were left not knowing how to market it.
There were no major broadcast partners to assist with marketing channels.
It was about experimenting with what works.
The media has been interested because it is unique. Guidestones is a unique story done in a unique way.
It was grassroutes level marketing
Jay reached out to the welcoming ARG community.
Jay credits Storycode in NYC as being very been helpful at gettin the word out, and has asked him to speak about the project which he will do this May.
Pushing people to share an the end of the series is another tactic. He offers a T-shirt to those that shirt get 5 ppl to sign up.
The site itself is build with a social media sharing system.
Marketing greatly relied on word of mouth.
What else is unique:
Its a new way to engage with the audience
The -how to- video on the website is helpful
Jay looked for partnerships and Pizza Pizza came on board creating a Guidestones trailer exclusive to all Pizza Pizza establishments.
and Pizza Pizza promoted it as part of a Pizza Pizza Facebook contest on their very popular page.
Funding a non traditional business model ( 3 years):
With no budget, Jay used his own investment to fund it + a bit of seed money
This meant that he needed to stop to work in-between thoughout.
He cut cost by hiring Ryeron and York University recent grads.to produce the 2 hours of video and 2 hours of web footage.
Jay is looking for product partners, brand partners.
Fan puchace revenue is being made for those that buy the song (as part of the story)
He states he has not costed it but conservatively to re-produce at market price is easily 1 million
Jay’s goal: to generate enough from this project to invest in a second.
The future of transmedia in Canada
There was no template for this project.
When I asked Jay about what he would like to see in the future he mentioned that he would like to see a united Canada transmedia community to encourage and support simular projects.
- offer more support and strategy towards marketing
- get a room of Transmedia producers together in a round table to share ideas
Your thoughts and ideas are welcome.
and you can find the 1st episode at guidestones.org
Its highly recommended.