The red pill or blue pill? Dive into the conscious rabbit hole or wake up ignorant in bed? What if you, the viewer, could decide?
That’s the question Brad Winderbaum, Andy Dugan, Marc Cittadino, and Diahnna Baxter started exploring back in July 2006 when they put up episode 1 of their sci-fi thriller, 12 Monkeys-conspiracy-theory of a web series, Satacracy88.
Frustrated with the limited distribution and costly entry fees associated with the film festival circuit (Note: Brad and Marc are USC alums who worked with Andy on The Futurist – a time-traveling indie flick with a prophetic Iron Man twist – and met Diahnna through other film projects), the foursome explored the possibilities of creating character-driven drama on the internet.
It was during a point in the history of online video when only comedy shows and Rocketboom filled computer screens, when Lonelygirl was still an innocent, overprotected teen trying to make YouTube friends, and when Big Fantastic’s SamHas7Friends was the only other episodic show delving into dark drama.
The creators of Satacracy88 formed It’s All In Your Hands and decided to differentiate by incorporating an element innate to the internet – the audience. Brad explained over the phone, “The web’s naturally a forum where user and creator have access to one another in an unprecedented way. One minute we knew we were gonna make a show online and the next minute we knew were gonna make it interactive, because we could.”
The result is a monthly, labor of love shot on the weekends, stylized from late ’90s comic books and early ’90s choose-your-own-adventure elementary school stories that follow Angela’s (played by Diahnna) trip of mascara-laden, narcotic self-discovery through satanic cults, RPG-like quests, sophisticated mercenaries, and her own subconscious. At the end of each episode, viewers got to vote on what happens next.
But in a surprise twist, after 24 episodes and an Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama for Broadband, Brad, Andy, Marc, and Diahnna voted to end the series.
Two years ago, allowing audiences to make a binary, A or B choice on behalf of your protagonist was novel, but that level of interactivity has been colored remedial by today’s standards. iChannel’s a show completely driven by YouTube comments, Where are the Joneses? was scripted through a user-generated wiki, and Nowheremen ’s altnerate reality game has fans combing the web for clues.
Brad and crew and looking to get the audience interacting in a “different, more fluid way” in a new show set to launch this Fall based on the world of Satacracy88 dubbed, Knights of a Hundred Sorrows.
I recently spoke on the phone with all the creators to talk about Image comic books, a break-neck production schedule, getting that Emmy nod, and what’s next.
(My apologies on the quality – I’m new to this audio thing.)