Mobisode, Hollywood style

A new mobisode is out that looks like it was created using Hollywood production standards, as well as Hollywood stars. Flatland, a Ruddy Morgan Organization Production (the fellows who brought us Million Dollar Baby and The Godfather), was created for worldwide distribution through mobile and broadband. The mobile design & producer is Timothy Shey, who came by and alerted me about this show but the comment seems to have disappeared! Tim started a company, Proteus, in 1996, and has been working on wireless applications for a while, including mobisode versions of The Sopranos and Sex & the City. Tim’s latest creation, the Flatland mobisode, is described as “the first original action series produced for broadband, hand-held, PSP and mobile phonesâ€?.

The overall story is described as follows:

The year is 2010. The place is Shanghai. Three young Americans — Quentin Mitchell (PHYLLIP RHYS), JT Dunnit (BUMPER ROBINSON) and Amy Li (FRANCOISE YIP) — find themselves trapped in the mysterious web of a man known only by the name of Smith (DENNIS HOPPER). Smith’s world “Flatland” is terrifying, a place where the past and present exist at the same time, intersecting with deadly consequences. Where reality changes in a heartbeat. Where life and death hang on the blink of an eye.

It is Dennis Hopper’s first mobisode appearance. Previews of the series are available, as well as downloads for PSP and iPod.

An interview with Tim, conducted by Keren Flavell, is available for podcast. In the interview, Tim talks about writing and filming for the various devices. They re-edited the series for each media channel, according to their affordances. They have done short-form versions for the mobisodes: 2-3 minute episodes that focus on certain elements in the episodes, and long-form for iPods & broadband. The shots were tight, with some even cropped further for the mobisode. The content was created as a non-linear storyline, to be told from alot of different perspectives, and to work cross-culturally.The mobisode series is dialogue-driven whereas the major action scenes are in the broadband and downloadable versions. Now, this sounds like Tim knows what he is doing. Indeed, rather than repurposing exactly the same content, Tim is altering the work according to each device. This requires knowing each device, each audience for each device and then altering the story (what is told) & discourse (how it is told).

There aren’t that many resources for writing & shooting mobisodes. Here are some:

Holson, L.M. (2005) ‘Pocket-size screen’s new rules‘, International Herald Tribune

Mobile Filmmaking: Lessons

Nielsen, J. (1998) ‘Microcontent: How to Write Headlines, Page Titles, and Subject Lines’, Useit.com

Tim plans to simultaneously release, like Forget the Rules, sometime this year worldwide. I’ll add it my list of mobisodes.