A new transmedia project called 'The Numinous Place' is trying to raise money on Kickstarter. It already has one famous backer: the actor Russell Crowe, who has apparently invested $25,000 in the project.
It's the brainchild of Mark Staufer, an old friend of Crowe's and the screenwriter of the forthcoming movie directed by Crowe about comedian Bill Hicks, "Love, Laughter, Truth."
Originally from New Zealand, Staufer now lives in Los Angeles, and describes this project, which he's been working on for four years, as "a new way of storytelling."
"We'll be using video, audio, fake security camera footage, fake newspapers - all of this will have more of a visceral impact than words on a page. If you're presenting evidence that looks and smells and feels real, then the readers are going to believe it."
The narrative is a "cosmic detective story," and it will center around a multi-platform ebook app that contains audio and video components.
It will also include elements to assist lucid dreaming, which is the ability to control your own dreams. This aspect is reminiscent of the lucid dreaming app that accompanied the movie Inception. The project's consultant is lucid dreaming expert Rory Mac Sweeney.
The Numinous Place's website describes the project as "the world's first truly multidimensional work of fiction."
However, it's far from the first transmedia fiction creation - alternate reality games (ARGs) are now more than a decade old, while transmedia elements have featured in Scholastic's popular young adult book series 39 Clues as well as accompanying several TV shows and movies. Tim Kring, the creator of the TV show Heroes, has become involved in several transmedia projects for major brands including AT&T and Nokia.
Perhaps the most ambitious example was Peter Greenaway's Tulse Luper project, originally envisioned to involve movies, books, publications, websites, DVDs, exhibitions and an online game.
Staufer's description of his plans for "The Numinous Place" include some of the ARG genre's now traditional elements, including online forums, web-based material, fictional websites and videos that look real, and perhaps telephone calls with actors playing fictional characters. However, as with Sean Stewart and Jordan Weisman's 2006 title "Cathy's Book", (which also launched as an app in 2010) the reader can also choose to follow the narrative without departing from the main text.
According to Staufer, what makes his story different from previous transmedia projects is its intended audience. "We're [aiming this at] people who read books and historical thrillers. We're being careful not to move it into the gamer space. A lot of [transmedia] is aimed at kids and young teens. Publishers believe that teens are ready for this stuff - but for some reason there is this belief that adults aren't."
Staufer plans to attend the Frankfurt Book Fair this fall, to find a print-book partner for the story, as well as to showcase the first 30 pages of the app, which he hopes will be completed and on sale internationally by Christmas. If it is a success, he plans to add three further parts to the story, to come out in 2013-4.
"This is its own medium," he says. "In the future, we're going to be telling stories this way."