The Hotlist: May 2015
A Guide to the Web’s Most Cutting Edge New Media Content

Compiled by Elliot Feldman

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The Hotspot 
The Hotspot highlights Web content created by writers working under a WGA contract. 


Created by filmmaker Amy Berg and writer/producer Mike Sizemore, CAPER is a Web series that's part of YouTube's popular Geek & Sundry channel. The plot involves: four cash-strapped superhero housemates who go to the dark side and plan a heist. It stars Harry Shum Jr. (Glee) and Abby Miller (Justified).

Project Imagination: The Trailer
Project Imagination: The Trailer is a contest sponsored by Canon, and produced by director Ron Howard and actor Josh Hutcherson (Hunger Games). It's subtitled "a film inspired by your trailer." Participants can assemble their own everyday videos and photos into a movie trailer using the Web site's "easy-to-use online editing tools." The finished product is then submitted for the project's selection process as conducted by Howard and Hutcherson. A winning trailer will then be made into a short Hollywood film courtesy of Ron Howard and Josh Hutcherson.

NFB/Interactive - Hyperlocal
Hyperlocal is an interactive project sponsored by National Film Board of Canada and CBC. They describe the project as "an online collection of personal observations about change in Canadian communities." It consists of five interactive stories from "prominent Canadian writers" and a sixth story from the winner of the nationwide CBC Books - Canada Writers Digital Storytelling Challenge contest. The multimedia design is the work of Vancouver-based developer Sean Embury.


Spell Up With Google
Spell Up is a voice-activated spelling game using Google speech-recognition technology ala Apple's Siri. The game is educational with the intended results of players improving their English language skills. In fact, the game can be used in a classroom. For participants, the game object of Spell Up is for a player to build a "tower" of correctly spelled and pronounced words that's higher than his or her opponent's tower.


TYPE:RIDER is a videogame app for Apple and Android OS mobile devices. It describes itself as a "Typographical Odyssey" that's both puzzle and adventure game. It was created by French multimedia developer Theo Le Du Fuentes (AKA Cosmografik). TYPE:RIDER includes three media platforms. It's a live onsite "INSTALLATION" where players can create their own font on a video wall. It's a VIDEO GAME where players can explore the history of a specific font as a video adventure game with music and graphics in the historical context of the period in which the font was created. For example, the TIMES font was created in the 1920s, enabling players to explore a cityscape inspired by director Fritz Lang's silent film masterpiece "Metropolis." It's a SOCIAL GAME where players create their own unique font that can be shared on Facebook.

Prison Valley
Prison Valley describes itself as a "first-person interactive road movie" that takes place in Fremont County, Colorado, the home to 13 prisons. This interactive documentary was created by French journalist David Dufresne and photographer Philippe Brault, and produced by Arte TV. Prison Valley places users in the shoes of a journalist investigating the American prison industry. The interactivity allows users to swap e-mails with story characters that include a sheriff, a journalist, and a prison guard. They can also participate in online debates regarding the subject matter. The multimedia in the documentary includes "thousands of photographs, and hours of audio and video." It is presented on four media platforms including a book, a web documentary, an iPhone app, and a live installation in a Paris art space.

Empire - The unintended consequences of colonialism
Dutch-American filmmakers Eline Jongsma and Kel O'Neill examine the legacy of Dutch colonialism with their multi-platform project "Empire: The Unintended Consequences of Colonialism." It is part online interactive documentary and live venue installation. The content spans ten countries and six continents. The multimedia is designed by developer Sam Bailey and designer Clint Beharry. The project is part of PBS Online's POV series.

Netwars/out of CTRL
Netwars/out of CTRL is an experimental cross-media project sponsored by The Creators Project, a consortium of Vice Media and Intel). Its subject matter is the mounting threat of cyberwarfare. The project is spread across five different media platforms: television documentary, interactive online documentary, graphic novel app (currently for Apple, Google Play, Amazon, and Galaxy operating systems), a six-part e-book, and audio book. Executive producer Saskia Kress sees the project as an "educational tool" that shows users the vulnerability of their personal information.


Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek
In 2013, New York Times writer John Branch won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing for his long-form interactive piece "Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek." It is the compelling true story of an avalanche that killed three people in Washington State. The text is divided into six chapters and is seamlessly accompanied by information graphics, videos, and photos. Branch interviewed every survivor of the avalanche along with the families of the three victims.

A global guide to the first world war
"A global guide to the first world war" is a multimedia long-form feature from The Guardian newspaper's special projects editor Francesca Panetta. The Guardian feature article is written by Stephen Moss. The narrative content is in seven chapters and in seven languages (English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Hindi and Arabic). The historical data comes from ten historians from ten countries. The multimedia technology comes from KILN, an Italian developer and design team. It includes videos, interactive maps, photo galleries, plus vintage journalism pieces from The Guardian's archive.

The WGAW encourages New Media projects to respect content creators through Guild contracts. If you’re working in New Media and would like information on getting your project covered, contact Shelagh Wagener or call (323) 782-4511.

Elliot Feldman's novel, Sitting Shiva, was published in 2003 -- ISBN: 0964374064. And check out his comics at Scene4 Magazine - WARNING: Not for the easily offended.