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Exposed and Rolling in Dallas


by Betsy Lewis 2 Oct 2008

Best boy grip Sloane Schoeneberg on the set of Exposed. Actors are being coiffed, grips are hauling equipment between sets, Joey Stewart is barking at his crew, and Jon Keeyes is being a great guy. This could describe a lot of film shoots that have taken place in North Texas in the past 10 or […]

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Best boy grip Sloane Schoeneberg on the set of Exposed.

Actors are being coiffed, grips are hauling equipment between sets, Joey Stewart is barking at his crew, and Jon Keeyes is being a great guy. This could describe a lot of film shoots that have taken place in North Texas in the past 10 or so years. This particular project, Exposed, is being financed by big time studio Warner Brothers. So when I visited the final day of shooting last Saturday at The Art Institute of Dallas, why did a set production assistant ask me not to use his name if I posted his picture?

“Eh, I’m really a producer, and this is just for the Web.”

Dude, really? Admittedly, I have a softness toward original content for the Internet – my hands are blogging in it – and Exposed pushes the new media boundaries of North Texas film production.

Supervising producer Joey Stewart in the inner sanctum.

“It’s the Metaverse,” says supervising producer Jon Keeyes. What Jon calls the Metaverse, I call transmediating, a term purloined from a book that rocked my world, Convergence Culture by Henry Jenkins. Transmediating is telling a story through several media platforms simultaneously. Most famously, The Wachowski brothers transmediated The Matrix series; you could go see the movie and then go on with your life OR you could play the video games and read the comic books, too. The optional platforms don’t just repeat the films, they add exclusive information and make the whole Matrix universe a lovely onion screaming to be peeled (really bad but vivid metaphor by me).

Supervising producer/great guy, Jon Keeyes

For Exposed, one character will have a MySpace page with alternative perspectives on each webisode through blogging, social networking capabilities (with real people), and possibly even additional footage. (You might think interactivity and corporate copyright cannot mix, but the Hogwarts camp is doing an excellent job, from what I’m told.)

The details on Exposed:

— North Texas cast and crew (the lead actor was born here)

— Thirty episodes, each three to four minutes long, spread out over 16 weeks

— National promotional campaign, televised

— Coming soon to a computer near you (http://www.thewb.com/). Premieres November 3, 2008

I was on set for two hours when it dawned on me that I hadn’t asked about the plot (former Russian Mafia guy escapes his tormentors by posing as an American college student/janitor), then I realized my fascination came from form, not content. The Metaverse is here, baby! And it’s the wave of the future, so surf’s up, North Texas. The medium is the message.

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  • “Telling a story through several mediums ” seems to me to be synergy. That sneaky word that allows a monopoly of control of media and art by a handful of mega corporations.
    If our history of mega media synergy from the past is any indication, this is a disaster for art. Instead of great art, we have bad art in many genres. Marketing tricks over quality.
    Welcome to the last 2 decades of American art. It’s been a golden age of nothing. And business control of arts, in a synergy marketing scheme, has been a disaster for everyone.

  • Betsy Lewis

    I don’t understand – why would multi-platforming be restricted to corporations?
    Visit the studios of our North Texas universities sometime. You will find penniless students at every skill level (and age group, too) experimenting in mediums unfamiliar to them. And come to think of it, it’s not just for storytelling – a lot of abstractionists are playing with emerging media forms. Thanks for your comment, Tom!

  • If the multi-platforming is done to enhance and expand the art, that is one thing. But that’s not the case with Corporate art – art from one of the handful of media giants, Time Warner, Disney, Fox, CBS, GE-Universal, and Bertelsmann. That list pretty much sums up all the professional level music, film, TV, publishing, etc. in the US. And that is the art that gets all the media attention. Further more its no surprise that these companies that make and distribute the art, also own a lot of the media that reviews the art. It’s sweet synergy; own the art, distribute it, give it a nice review, then talk about it on your own TV network’s late night talk show!
    The process has ruined art. But its not just bad art, its bad business – dinosaur record companies, TV stations loosing viewers, film audiences dropping, book sales off, etc. etc.
    I went to North Texas State University (now UNT) and indeed we did original art. But you can’t get it reviewed in mainstream media. Owning the art, distributing the art, and reviewing the art – all by the same handful – does not include art from universities.
    Even our daily paper, favors Holllywood art in every instance over hometown talent. They don’t even have a local art reporter anymore.
    The same mess is country wide.
    Synergy in the hands of the media art giants is a marketing scheme. Synergy may not be restricted to corporations – but the art almost everyone sees in the US, IS.