Karin told me about The Strand, a new webisodic by the people who made Blair Witch. They shot the video last year (so I assume it’s video-centric?), and according to the press release the first episode will be available on March 15. On that day, access will be free if you sign up for a free Bitpass account. Bitpass is a micropayment manager, and for subsequent episodes you’ll have to pay 99 cents (US cents) to view each episode, and you’ll pay it through Bitpass.

Here’s a story about it at Yahoo. I’m really looking forward to seeing the show, though I’ve got to say I’m getting a little tired of each new web narrative claiming to be “the first”. What about Online Caroline, email narratives, blog fiction, mid-nineties web soap operas? I suppose marketing people think “the first” sounds good: “the first live-action, independently produced; narrative episodic intended specifically for the web”. And they haven’t really done their research. Or perhaps it really is very hard to find out about all the previous projects done in these genres? If so, how can we make it easier?

The press release is at an unstable URL so I’m including it below for archival purposes.

GEARHEAD INFO & PRESS RELEASES:

EXPERIMENTAL SHOW SET IN VENICE, CA INTERNET EXCLUSIVE, $0.99 DOWNLOAD, POWERED BY BITPASS

DANIEL MYRICK, CO-CREATOR OF THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, DEBUTS THE STRAND, A
CUTTING-EDGE, EXPERIMENTAL SHOW SET IN BOHEMIAN VENICE, CA INTERNET EXCLUSIVE, $0.99 DOWNLOAD, POWERED BY BITPASS PAYMENTS SERVICE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Hollywood, CA) March 1, 2005. THE STRAND (www.strandvenice.com) is an uncensored look at the lives of several off-beat characters that inhabit the unique world of Venice Beach, California, and how they are all connected. Utilizing many of the method-film techniques that were incorporated into Blair Witch, The Strand maintains a sense of authenticity that cannot be found in large-scale productions. Real people and actors populate a fictional world in which spontaneous as well as scripted dialogue bring a sense of unpredictability and realism to the characters and situations.

This landmark production by Gearhead Pictures (Myrickís production company) marks a series of firsts for filmmaking, digital content, and e-commerce. The Strand is the first live-action, independently produced; narrative episodic intended specifically for the web, hence the term ìwebisodic.î The flagship show will world premiere at http://www.strandvenice.com, and be FREE of CHARGE on March 15, 2005. Audiences will be asked to pay $0.99 for each subsequent webisode. The Strand incorporates BitPass digital payments technology, which will enable critics, reviewers and early website visitors to view the first episode using free passes from the BitPass platform for digital content commerce. The Strand and BitPass demonstrate the future of filmmaking, in which filmmakers can utilize the Internet for distribution while protecting their content with technology that manages licenses, payments and promotions of the digital content.
“While the entertainment industry continually grows more risk-averse, the Internet still beckons with its promise of becoming the great equalizer,” says Dan Myrick, director of The Strand and president of Gearhead Pictures. “BitPass enables independent production companies like us to make a show ëfor the people, by the people,í where production is sponsored by people who watch it, leaving its destiny in the hands of those who care most about its future.”
“BitPass is excited to be working with Dan Myrick, one of the most respected and creative film mavericks, to launch The Strand on the Internet with an appealing $0.99 pricing model for consumers,” says Michael O’Donnell, CEO of BitPass. ìBitPassí system for paid digital content makes it easy and economical for filmmakers and other digital content providers to sell their products to the mass market over the Internet, at any price point.î
The Strand website will also serve as an interactive centerpiece that will document the entire production process. Much as with Blair, The Strand will encourage audience interaction and feedback to help guide and shape future webisodes, as well as interaction with characters, filmmakers and each other. Audition videos, chat rooms and even point-of-view cameras that virtually put the audience in the actorsí heads as they work through scenes will all be part of the online experience as the show progresses. (more)
Availability and Pricing
The show March 15, 2005 to critics, reviewers and the press, and the public at http://www.strandvenice.com. The first webisode will be available without charge to website visitors with a free BitPass account.
About Gear Head Pictures
Established in 2001, Gear Head Pictures was formed by Daniel Myrick to help facilitate various solo projects, ranging from feature films to Internet content.
About BitPass
BitPass was founded in December 2002 to address the growing demand for paid digital content (music, video, photos, news, patents, etc.) and the need for publishers to efficiently monetize their online offerings through a-la-carte and subscription-based payment models. Since the company’s production release of its service in December 2003, BitPass has signed over 1,900 digital content merchants. The company has received venture funding from Worldview Technology Partners, Steamboat Ventures (the venture capital arm of The Walt Disney Company), RRE Ventures, First Data Corp., Garage Technology Ventures, Cardinal Venture Capital, Amicus Capital and others. For more information, visit http://www.bitpass.com.

Published on March 1, 2005. For interviews with Daniel Myrick, Hollywood premiere party information and press inquiries, email richard@yarble.com or phone Richard Halpern at 323-957-3456.

END

Synopsis for “The Strand”

Where the debris meets the seaÖ

Freaks, Geeks, and Muscle Beach. The method filmmaking style comes into its own in the city of Jim Morrison and Dogtown. The Strand takes us into the lives of several individuals that inhabit this offbeat, slightly surreal world. From the boardwalk to the canals, Venice Beach embraces everyone: whether itís a yuppie living in his penthouse, a skate punk looking to score weed, or a homeless guy asking for spare change.

By utilizing small crews, combined with minimal lighting and set-up, the method filmmaking approach seamlessly combines the strengths of narrative storytelling with documentary filmmaking. The result is a raw, organic style that captures the spirit of a city that is known as much for its heartbreak as it is for its beauty.

The Strand will be released in a series of “webisodics” at www.strandvenice.com

ABOUT “The Strand”

Originally conceived in 2003, ìThe Strandî grew out of a series of camera tests using the backdrop of Venice Beach. The camera tests grew into a love affair with the city itself. ìVenice is so unique, with such a strong personality. I wanted to find a way to capture it for what it was, warts and allî, says director Dan Myrick. A year later, he had cobbled together enough money to shoot for 8 days in the heart of the city.

The idea was to create a new way of shooting that embraced the hurly-burly nature of the area. Blair had been shot in a remote location; ìThe Strandî would be shot in the middle of a popular vacation destination. Natural lighting, hand-held cameras, and improvisation would, of necessity, be embraced. But in order to truly meld in with the city, co-writer Mark Patton re-located to the boardwalk and began befriending every restaurant and tattoo shop owner down the strip. Says Mark, ìBy the time we started shooting, we were family.î

ìThe Strandî has over 50 speaking parts, and 30 locations. The three-room production office was also a set, a dressing room, and a cafeteria. Casting for the project also had a distinctly bizarre Venice feel. On one end, Lorenzo Pye, a homeless drummer who has been a longtime fixture on the boardwalk, was cast as a homeless drummer whose ìspirit is stolenî. On the other end, film veteran Katherine Helmond was cast as a 1950ís movie starlet who is facing imminent foreclosure on her home. ìI canít say enough about my actors,î says Myrick, ìOne of the great benefits of this style of shooting is that you really allow them to breathe inside their roles. And itís a thing of beauty to capture that on camera.î

By the end of production, over 50 hours of footage had been shot, and the long process of editing began. As the film began to come together, Dan realized he had something completely new on his hands. Says Dan, ìFrom day one, this has been an organic process. I loved the idea, loved Venice, and simply wanted to tell a good story. I put myself in the hands of Venice, and let it take me where it wanted to go.î

With high quality streaming media finally becoming a reality, and with the
licensing power created by the online payment firm Bitpass, the internet increasingly seemed like the first choice for distribution. Says Myrick, ìObviously, the dream is for an artist to connect directly to his audience. I know how powerful the internet can be. Iíve seen it first-hand. I think this is the perfect home for The Strand, and Iím excited about its potential.î

DANIEL MYRICK, CO-CREATOR OF THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, DEBUTS THE STRAND

CUTTING-EDGE, EXPERIMENTAL SHOW SET IN BOHEMIAN VENICE, CA
INTERNET EXCLUSIVE, $0.99 DOWNLOAD, POWERED BY BITPASS PAYMENTS SERVICE

(Park City, Utah) January 25, 2005. THE STRAND is an uncensored look at the lives of several off-beat characters that inhabit the unique world of Venice Beach, California, and how they are all connected. Utilizing many of the method-film techniques that were incorporated into Blair Witch, The Strand maintains a sense of authenticity that cannot be found in large-scale productions. Real people and actors populate a fictional world in which spontaneous as well as scripted dialogue bring a sense of unpredictability and realism to the characters and situations.

This landmark production by Gearhead Pictures (Dan Myrickís production company) marks a series of firsts for filmmaking, digital content, and e-commerce. The Strand is the first live-action, independently produced; narrative episodic intended specifically for the web, hence the term ìwebisodic.î The flagship show will premiere at http://www.strandvenice.com, and be FREE of CHARGE. Audiences will be asked to pay $0.99 for each of the subsequent webisodes. The Strand also incorporates BitPass digital payments technology, which will enable VIPs, critics, reviewers and early website visitors to view the first episode using free passes from the BitPass platform for digital content commerce. The Strand and BitPass demonstrate the future of filmmaking, in which filmmakers can utilize the Internet for distribution while protecting their content with technology that manages licenses, payments and promotions of the digital content.

“While the entertainment industry continually grows more risk-averse, the Internet still beckons with its promise of becoming the great equalizer,” said Dan Myrick, director of The Strand and president of Gearhead Pictures. “BitPass enables independent production companies like us to make a show ëfor the people, by the people,í where production is sponsored by people who watch it, leaving its destiny in the hands of those who care most about its future.”

ìBitPass is excited to be working with Dan Myrick, one of the most respected and creative film mavericks to launch The Strand on the Internet with an appealing $0.99 pricing model for consumers,î said Michael OíDonnell, CEO of BitPass. ìBitPassí system for paid digital content makes it easy and economical for filmmakers and other digital content providers to sell their products to the mass market over the Internet, at any price point.î

The Strand website will also serve as an interactive centerpiece that will document the entire production process. Much as with Blair, The Strand will encourage audience interaction and feedback to help guide and shape future webisodes, as well as interaction with characters, filmmakers and each other. Audition videos, chat rooms and even point-of-view cameras that virtually put the audience in the actorsí heads as they work through scenes will all be part of the online experience as the show progresses.

Availability and Pricing
The show debuts today (January 25, 2005) to critics, reviewers and the press, and will be available to the public in March at http://www.strandvenice.com. The first webisode will be available without charge to website visitors with a free BitPass account.

About Gear Head Pictures
Established in 2001, Gear Head Pictures was formed by Daniel Myrick to help facilitate various solo projects, ranging from feature films to Internet content. For more information and press inquiries, email info@gearheadpictures.com or phone Julia Fair at Gear Head Picturesí main line, 626-395-7674.

About BitPass
BitPass was founded in December 2002 to address the growing demand for paid digital content (music, video, photos, news, patents, etc.) and the need for publishers to efficiently monetize their online offerings through a-la-carte and subscription-based payment models. Since the company’s production release of its service in December 2003, BitPass has signed over 1,900 digital content merchants. The company has received venture funding from Worldview Technology Partners, Steamboat Ventures (the venture capital arm of The Walt Disney Company), RRE Ventures, First Data Corp., Garage Technology Ventures, Cardinal Venture Capital, Amicus Capital and others. For more information, visit http://www.bitpass.com.

Bios for “The Strand”

Dan Myrick (Director, Writer)

Daniel Myrick is a native of Sarasota, Florida, and is best known for co-creating the blockbuster independent THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. Blair became one of the highest grossing independent films of all time, and its website remains one of the most visited and influential websites in the history of motion pictures.

Daniel has been a filmmaker for 15 years working in all aspects of production, including producing, directing, writing, editing and cinematography. He is represented by, Industry Entertainment Management and the Endeavor Talent Agency.

Molly M. Mayeux (Producer)

Molly M. Mayeux is the producer of such notable feature films as “I Shot a Man In Vegas” starring Janeane Garafalo, “Savior” starring Dennis Quaid and Nastassja Kinski, “The Hi-Line” starring Rachael Leigh Cook, the critically acclaimed HBO original movie “Dancing in September,” and has just finished “Dandelion,” starring Taryn Manning, Vincent Kartheiser, Arliss Howard, and Mare Winningham.

2 thoughts on “webisodic: the strand

  1. Hanne-Lovise

    I’m excited about this too and I alreday signed up to see the first episode! (but I’m prepared to be as disappointed as I was after seeing the hyped-up Blair Witch…) I’m also curious of how “audience interaction and feedback” will “help guide and shape future webisodes”. So far I’ve found two venues for audience feedback. One forum where I suppose the promised interaction with filmmakers and other viewers can take place, and one blog http://www.strandvenice.com/bartendersblog.htm where audiences can submit comments to one of the characters, the bartender. I guess he will be writing about episodes that are shown in the “webisodics”? The other characters are writers and actors so it wouldn’t be out of character if some of them expressed themselves through blogs too, perhaps writing about the same episodes or comment on each other’s blogs?…

  2. Jill

    Goodness, I didn’t find any content – I thought it was all empty till March 15! I guess I didn’t look hard enough! Thanks, Hanne-Lovise.

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