Digital Films, , , , , — May 25, 2011 23:15 — 0 Comments

Use your smartphone to become part of the movie

British-based art collective Blast Theory tapped into a novel way of movie making at this year’s Sundance Film Festival by getting the audience to take part in a heist film using their smartphones.

Through a specially designed location app, players were invited to register online, enter their mobile phone number to receive directions to a designated street corner in Park City, Utah, and take part in the film, A Machine to See With.

As protagonists they received messages on their phone that led them through the city where they were caught up in a heist. Along the way they had to deal with other players; be aware of traps, and make certain ethical decisions that determined not only the course of the film but their own experience.

The work was a ‘Locative Cinema’ commission that formed part of the festival’s New Frontiers programme to highlight the cutting-edge intersection of film and mobile technologies to create art – and entertainment.

Founder and Sundance president Robert Redford described the creative marriage of new technology and storytelling as ‘opening a window into the future’.

Blast Theory adapted an open source piece of call centre software called Asterisk to automate a personalised experience for those taking part in the film.

‘The work mixes thriller cliches with the reality of the urban environment and explores the tyranny of choice and the financial crisis,’ they said.

It’s also about cinema. Blast Theory used the city as a cinematic space and looked at how the experience can be enhanced by placing screens on the street and monitoring the protagonists’ progress.

A Machine to See With is also about choice and consumerism and how technology is used, in call centres, for example, to create a so-called ‘personalised experience’.

But at its heart is money and the financial crisis with the attempted bank heist a statement of the recent global financial meltdown.

View a documentary on A Machine to See With and send me your comments.

A Machine To See With, Banff from Blast Theory on Vimeo.

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About the author

Tony Myers has written 866 articles for Smart Movie Making

Fooling around with the iPhone since 2010. Taking it to the next web by writing about new media, new technology, new wave cinema and the digital revolution.

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