You’re walking in the woods and you find a box.
What’s inside? Well that’s easy, open the lid and find out. But how did it get there in the first place and why?
My idea for this project was inspired by the idea of an implied narrative, and it started with a bull.
A Red Bull. In fact, a whole crate of it, spilling out over the Agora lawn from a smashed open crate. A parachute lay nearby. Free energy drinks for all the uni students lucky enough to arrive before nine o’clock that morning.
It didn’t take a genius to work out the story being implied by the mysterious set up. A crate of energy drinks dropped from the sky to help the thirsty and academic through their day. Simple, effective advertising that captured the imagination one step further then simply handing out free samples. The bemused students did as we do: out came the camera phones and minutes later everyone on Facebook was aware of the stunt.
Well played, Red Bull.
I wanted to play with the concept of an implied narrative, and so with these ideas in mind, my project was born.
“The box was hidden in the woods because…”
From this incomplete sentence a thousand possibilities emerge, from the hilarious to the outlandishly absurd. I posted it on Facebook and got nearly one hundred responses for why the box was hidden in the woods.
(Originally it was “buried in the woods”. I altered it to make it more vague.)
From these suggestions I took twenty, and using live action, stop motion and text, made a just over two minute long film exploring the possibilities.
I was inspired by my research into Geocaching to make the narrative about finding something that was hidden. My concept moves one step further then Geocaching however, in that it’s about the story behind why the box was hidden as opposed to simply focusing on finding it.
Here’s how it works.
On posters around the city, on social media websites, and wherever I am able to spread the message, is the phrase “The Box Was Hidden In The Woods Because…” and a URL for a website.
This link, if followed, leads to a website with the video, annotated with links to a Facebook page, and to Twitter with the hash tag #findthebox. There is also a page with twenty boxes, four rows of five, in all different colours and styles. Click on one of these, it will show you a clue. The clue could be part of an address, could be a landmark, a number to call with a recorded message, GPS coordinates, etcetera. Ultimately, the clues lead to locations where a small box is hidden. There are twenty in total.
Each box contains some clues linking to one scenario from the video. For example, some feathers and cloth, a vial of dirt, and a package of seeds for a box tree. In each box there is also a sealed envelope with the words “Do not open until it’s time.”
Hopefully, participants make the connection to the videos end, and open the envelope.
Inside is one piece of twenty that assemble to form either a map, or set of instructions, leading to the final cache. In order to find the cache, the twenty participants have to connect to each other and assemble the final clue.
Finding the links to the video comes with another implied narrative. The clue boxes contain items that relate to the scenarios being played out in my video. I thought it would be fun for participants to make the connection between what’s in their box and it’s corresponding scene.
One of the aspects of Geocaching is interconnectivity. People find the cache and post it online, or fill out a logbook.
My project requires participants to form a network and connect the pieces of the clue, either virtually or in the real world, should they wish to discover the cache.
All the live action shots were captured on my iPod touch.
The stop motion sequences were a much trickier process. Being without a drawing program I used the website drawisland.com for most of my detailed drawings (the stork and the box tree), and then used the program Preview to create each frame and save it. These were then assembled in a single viewing window and the sequence filmed using QuickTime screen capture. Screen capture was also used for the films opening and closing typed shots.
1) 77 Badgers 2) Assemble in a preview slide 3) Quicktime screen capture 4) Scene
I edited the live action and stop motion shots in iMovie. All the sound was added in postproduction. Every image and sound clip I used I either made or took from the public domain.
When shooting the film I tried to use as many settings and styles as possible, to reflect the number of narrative possibilities. I tried to keep it varied and somewhat unpredictable. I wanted the film to be engaging, so people wouldn’t look away or lose interest before it ended. The pace of the film and variety of styles were working to this exact purpose, to be engaging and keep people watching.
I liked the challenge of working out how to film the scenes I wanted. I have discovered the many ways a camera stand can be constructed out of whatever you have lying around.
I learned that an implied narrative is usually something incredibly simple, and that the best way to make it work is to leave as few details as possible. With my scenario, the only specified details are the box, the surroundings of the box, and the fact that the box was hidden. Everything else is open to interpretation. Like the Red Bull stunt, the only details we had were a crate of energy drinks and a parachute, but it was enough to convey the story.
I would love to make this thing bigger and accessible to anyone, anywhere. To do this, I’d like to make an online version of the game, and hide clues throughout the Internet that people have to find. For example, a post on Craigslist, something on Wikipedia, a twitter account you have to find, a made up person on Facebook you have to track down and friend in order to receive the next clue, etcetera.
Another aspect I’d like to introduce is video responses online exploring other possibilities, both of illustrating a scenario and what that scenario would be.