In 2004, wedding, corporate, and music videographer Arin Crumley and visual artist Susan Buice met online and began to collaborate on an art experiment. They decided to spend the first months of their relationship communicating digitally, leaving a trail of letters, text messages, and notes behind. The two develop a relationship during the project and the idea became fodder for a film, Four Eyed Monsters. Collaborating with friends and actors, they created a feature film that was received by sold-out crowds at major film festivals like Sundance, Slamdance, and SWSW, but didn’t garner any distribution. In November 2005, Crumley and Buice turned to the web to promote their creation through production podcasts to moderate success while the film continued to make laps around the film festival circuit.
The 3 to 15-minute episodes play like a serial auto-docu-drama about making “Four-Eyed Monsters”. Arin and Susan introduce each video together on-camera, before all the behind-the-scenes conflicts unfold like a carefully laden plot from one post to the next. The only way to see the feature film they created is to request a screening in your area (or check out their MySpace page to see if there are any screenings scheduled near you). The podcast and website have turned into an additional experiment, this time in marketing. At one point, they decided to give credits to the musicians and other friends that were in the building during the process to expand their fanbase, which became a point of contention among some of their collaborators (see episodes six through eight). Whether or not props should go to Arin and Susan or to the endless list of “friends” who helped direct, write, and mold the film, their ongoing turmoil is nevertheless compelling. In addition to periodic video posts with news, invites, and special messages between episodes, the two artists provide lessons in producing creative content specifically for the web. Episodes are released irregularly, so it might be a good idea to subscribe to the “Four-Eyed Monsters” feed if you get hooked on past posts.
If the film has even half as much drama, suspense, and creativity as the podcasts, there will be no question why it has already sold out several film festivals. The great thing about their podcast is the very high level of talent it displays; these two really are artists. One of the between-episode segments, for instance, involved the coolest use of Second Life avatars I’ve seen in a vlog yet.