Last Thursday, I pulled up to the Ukrainian Cultural Center at 7:01pm, and just as expected, I saw a woman in white waiting outside. My boyfriend, Ricardo, rolled down the window. “Is this for the…?” he asked, as we still had no idea exactly what this was going to be. The woman in white took a step forward. She seemed uncertain how to respond.
“We’re coming!! Wait for us!” I said and she smiled. Yes, she realized, we were here for the viral marketing campaign. We turned the corner and looked for parking in front of Scoops. I couldn’t have been more excited.
Brit Marling, the star and co-writer of of last year’s Another Earth and Fox/Searchlight’s soon to be released The Sound of My Voice, is proving to be a powerful cinematic voice. Another Earth is a hauntingly beautiful sci-fi film about a bright young 17-year-old girl in Conneticut whose life is irrevocably altered on the night a new planet that looks identical to Earth appears in the night sky. It’s a thoughtful and subdued film that takes a great sci-fi concept and explores the emotional possibilities of it with Bradbury-esque poetics.
So I was excited when I heard the first twelve minutes of Marling’s new film, The Sound of My Voice were streaming online. I was even more excited when I discovered the film had an interactive component: every couple of minutes, some detail– a line of dialog, a prop, a bar of soap– prompts an annotation to appear on the screen. Each one takes you to a different relevant concept on YouTube, Wikipedia, Tumblr– sources ripped from the fabric of cyberspace, and some delicately placed there by the filmmakers. Not only was this a fun experience, it also excited me about the future of narrative filmmaking. Sorry, Oscars: the movie theater will always have its place in the way we consume visual narrative, but the watching shit online has its merits too.
For instance, instead of a linear experience where you enter a movie theater, watch a movie, and then go home: you can watch the first twelve minutes online, and then go join the cult from the movie. The sixth annotation at in “The Sound of My Voice” takes you to a YouTube video uploaded by the cult from the movie (which has no name – their YouTube account is 4twentyseven2012, the release date of The Sound of My Voice). It stars the woman in white, who I met outside the Ukrainian Cultural Center:
Annotation #8 takes you the cult’s website, www.4272012.com. The site features a vaguely ominous video about the cult called “The Future Is Now,” and an invitation to join their meetings every Thursday at 7pm, at the Ukrainian Cultural Center on Melrose Ave, a five minute drive from my house. So of course I went to check it out!
Ricardo, a fellow named Scott Little from North Hollywood who showed up, and I were the only ones who ventured out last week, and we were rewarded by an hour’s worth of mysterious banter with “Mel,” the woman in white (Scott later discovered the personal website of the actress who played Mel: Christy Meyers, who you may have seen on All My Children). We did an amazing eye contact exercise where we stared at each other for a few minutes, and then she told us about hydroponic apples and the pain we all carry around, while searching for enlightenment or whatever.
It was awesome! Internet-based mysteries tied into independent films about cults are my favorite things! When Scott showed up, he asked “Mel” about the movie, and she reacted with confusion. A P.A. stepped out from a door and told “Mel” to pick up her phone, and someone on the other line gave her new instructions. I told Scott we should just play along with the narrative without breaking the 4th wall, and see where it goes.
We didn’t learn much about the inner workings of the cult, but Mel invited us back next week to learn more– even implying that we could graduate to different “levels” of knowledge. I plan on returning this week to find out more! Duh! I’m hoping to get to at least OT III by the end of this game. I invite everyone to come out with me and hang out with Mel. It’s like a murder mystery weekend! Where do I sign up to join Brit Marling’s cult??