Lancaster, the author of Interacting with Babylon 5 and Building
a Home Movie Studio & Getting Your Films Online, announces the
completion of three volumes of a video-streaming web narrative,
Letters from Orion.
with a Sony DV camera against a blue screen, Lancaster hired actors to
perform monologues in front of the screen, then digitally composed
them in front of Hubble Space Telescope images using Sonic Foundry’s
Vegas Video—an “all in one” digital editor. Orion is a
combination of compelling acting in a word-centered storytelling
medium usually found on the stage.
wanted to combine the powerful elements of storytelling and acting
found on the stage and translate it to the digital stage located on
the Web,” Lancaster says, who teaches Shakespeare and Science
Fiction at MIT. He has directed plays at MIT and off-off Broadway. One
critic, Nick White of The Tech, has called his work dark and
powerful. “I felt the pain and the joy, the love and the anger of
each character,” White says.
selection from Orion was presented at MIT’s Digital Cinema
conference in fall 2000. Henry Jenkins, the director of MIT’s Comparative Media
Studies program says that it is “Powerful. Letters from Orion
combines complex scripts and emotionally demanding performances.
Lancaster thinks creatively about the distinctive properties of the
web as a storytelling medium.”
Lancaster explains that after he and his
co-author, graduate student Cynthia Conti, started writing Building
a Home Movie Studio last summer, he became interested in telling a
story on the Web. “We’re
on the cusp of a new film revolution,” Lancaster says. “The
convergence of digital video, computers, and the internet has given
rise to a new form of storytelling. Anyone can now build a home movie
studio for about $2,500.” The equipment for Lancaster’s studio
cost less than $3,000. “My actual budget for this project was under
a $1,000,” he says.
“New aspiring filmmakers can
build their own digital video movie studio for far cheaper than one
year’s attendance at a prestigious film school,” Lancaster says.
“In many of these projects,” he adds, “we find deeply personal
films, as well as daring and experimental works that could not exist
without the accessibility of the Internet.”
from Orion is like any other
story, but told in a new medium. “I could have written the
story as a novel or as a screenplay, but I chose the Web as the medium
for the story, because it is best suited to the way I want the story
to be told,” Lancaster explains, pointing out how viewers can choose
which monologues to watch first and have the opportunity to post their
own letters to the characters on a discussion board.
plans to hire other writers and actors to enlarge the tapestry of his
universe, where other stories, sometimes intersecting, will be told
alongside the stories in
the first three volumes.