Artist, entrepreneur and former Booz Allen Hamilton Principal Pranay Chulet will release Latent Lava in November: a cross between a computer game and a full-length film where the characters are real people, including you.
Latent Lava is like a hyperactive Subservient Chicken 4.0 – a complex programming feat that allows the audience/cast members to select a variety of pre-programmed plot turns that will change the outcome of the movie. But the subject matter is deadly serious.
The premise is that politicians, with all their hidden agendas, can’t kill the monster of terrorism. Five years in the future, an underground community of vigilantes, called L2, evolves globally, through the Internet, to fight terrorism directly.
Latent Lava is driven by Chulet’s belief in anti-terror vigilantism. The project’s idealistic hope: “To be back in a world where our daily newspaper headlines were not printed in blood.”
Financed with a million from his own savings (typically an animated game can cost between $10 and $50 million to develop) he used a cast of 60 unknown actors from 12 countries. He has no money left for marketing (danger Will Robinson!! Danger Will Robinson!) and is relying on word of mouth to spread buzz.
Latent Lava will be distributed over the internet and on DVDs, and is meant to be played on computer screens.
The basic technology is flash, but Chultet’s team has filed for a patent for the flash player and software they developed. The dangers, as Businessworld Magazine pointed out, are that the novelty could wear off or that gamers will judge the plots too easy or too hard.
Not to mention that Latent Lava won’t run on Sony Playstation or Microsoft XBox, and the Flash technology requires download of special software. Chulet says he’ll offer the software player to other interactive game makers who want to do interactive productions.
Here’s an excerpt of a conversation I had with Chulet the other morning:
Chulet – The story is played over the course of 2-3 hours depending on how fast the audience is. The Interactive portion can go in 4-6 different directions.
It’s about 50-50 traditional film-like experience and interactive game.
BL- how does it relate to other games?
Chulet- “It’s the first where you interact with live people. I realized there is a huge potential for a much more realistic feel that is provided by using real people in real time. There are no animated elements at all.”
BL- how will you market Latent Lava?
Chulet – “We are banking on community-building and viral marketing and need a traditional media company to do the advertising and promotion.
We will place ads on blogs, and do traditional PR. We hope to create a community that will become viral.
And we hope that people will like the idea enough to write about it.
It’s all personally funded. I’ve spent the last 18 months of my life and most of my savings on it. It is all for a good cause. I believe in the idea very strongly.
I will be talking to a large traditional media company about getting it distributed by traditional means because in many markets download speed not big enough. I am coming to New York within a week for meetings with traditional media companies.
We also will be embedding the interactive portions of the movie into blogs and other sites. That’s new because currently, all embedded video are traditionally one-way. We may initially have servers of our own hosting it.
The reason people would distribute it through their blogs is that we are building a community around it that people around the world will join.”
BL- What is your personal motivation for anti-terrorism network?
Chulet- “I personally believe there is something fundamentally wrong with the way terrorism is being fought in the world. There should be an objective force that will find a way to end the terrorism and war.
In the real world, people are sick and tired of being manipulated by terrorists and of being manipulated by politicians. We need to take matters in hand.”
Chulet’s NYC-based company, Zobyx, did most of the shooting in New York and India.
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