The Hotlist: July 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.


Failing Upwards the Series describes itself as "a feel good comedy about unemployment." It's a semi-autobiographical Web series that follows four unemployed and unlikely friends. There are six episodes so far. Failing Upwards was created by and stars actor/producers Michelle C. Bonilla and Matt Crabtree.

Deathly Spirits – Ted Raimi
Ted Raimi is a cult horror film actor and brother of Evil/Dead director Sam Raimi. Deathly Spirits is Ted Raimi's Web series. Each episode is an odd mix of Raimi reading a ghost story, each one related to a recipe for a classic mixed drink. The series is produced by Ted Raimi's production company, Spooky Voodoo Pictures. He cites old time radio horror series as the inspiration for Deathly Spirits.

The Mercury Men
The Mercury Men is a series of Web video shorts on the SyFy network Web site. The science fiction conspiracy series is written, directed, and created by Christopher Preksta. The Mercury Men is set in 1975 Pittsburgh, and involves a select group of earthlings fighting aliens from the planet Mercury. Strangely enough, this ultra-low budget series, shot for $7,000, is much better than the retro science fiction film plot description sounds.

Re-Election: An Original Web Series
Re-Election is a YouTube comedy series about a mid-sized city mayoral staff caught in a Groundhog Day-style repetitive time warp. It's created and produced by Paul Karpenko. While there are currently five episodes on its YouTube Channel, they are shooting for financing for an additional three episodes via Kickstarter.

BRANDED ENTERTAINMENT is an interactive commercial brand campaign that celebrates the 40th anniversary of McDonald's in the UK. This tribute site, created by ad agency Razorfish, collects online visitor memories of past meals and experiences at McDonalds restaurants. Submissions can be written or they can be spoken via Google's speech recognition technology. The words, written or spoken, are then illustrated and displayed as an eye-catching online poster via Google Fonts technology. The Web site tribute also includes four McDonalds TV ads by the Leo Burnett agency. The interactive elements were developed by Goodboy.

House of Borel
House of Borel is an international shoes, clothing, and luxury accessories brand. The company's Web site is presented less as a commerce stie and more as an interactive film and digital experience. It's developed by multimedia designer Gunther Gheeraert from Paris-based Blacknegative studio in conjunction with digital media studio Immersive Garden.


Greater Than or Equal To
Greater than or Equal To is fiction writer Alan Trotter's portfolio Web site. The deceptively simple design is formatted in a style reminiscent of old school interactive text fiction games and ultimately plays out as a short story. Above all, it showcases Trotter's imagination as a writer.


DENNIS is a cutting edge multimedia experiment created by George Michael Brower, formerly a part of Google's Creative Lab. On its surface, DENNIS is an online music video for the group Popcorn_10, but the real star is the innovative technology behind it. Brower describes it as "a generative 3D experience whose every movement responds to the song's finest details." Each animated image is synchronized to the music and is rendered by code only.

The Enemy
The Enemy began as a virtual reality installation initially created for the Tribeca Film Festival by photojournalist and war correspondent Karim Ben Khelifa. Two screens show life-size videos of one soldier representative from each side of a longstanding conflict (such as Israel/Palestine and India/Kashmir). These are real interviews taken in a real location (i.e. Tel Aviv and Gaza). Each interviewee is asked the same set of six questions about war and "the enemy." Viewers have experienced it initially as an onsite installation via Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets. Sponsors of this project include MIT Open Documentary Lab, Ford Foundation, Sundance Institute and National Film Board of Canada. It is also available as a 52-minute documentary and will soon be available as a mobile and tablet app.


Do you know YouTube from A to Z?
Do you know YouTube from A to Z is a Google-sponsored tribute that marks the 10th anniversary of video-sharing Web site YouTube. Visitors can watch a video that's an A to Z montage of notable YouTube videos throughout the years accompanied by the song "Alphabet Aerobics" by Blackalicious. Or they can play a trivia game that tests pop culture knowledge, trivia question illustrated through past YouTube snippets. This tribute can best be experienced in the Google Chrome browser.

Fort McMoney
Directed by David Dufresne, Fort McMoney is an interactive documentary (or docu-game) about Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada. Fort McMurray is small town that has become an economic boomtown due to the Athabasca project, the world's largest oil sands development. The Web site is part interactive documentary with 55 video interviews of residents permanent and temporary in this region. And Fort McMoney can also be experienced as a SimCity-style multiplayer docu-game where players simulate participation as community leaders and resource builders. Support for the Web site comes from a partnership that includes The National Film Board of Canada; TOXA, a Quebec based video production company; and Arte, a French arts and media organization.


Last Hijack Interactive
Last Hijack Interactive is the online nonfiction companion to the full-length feature film Last Hijack. This interactive documentary is produced by the Submarine Channel. The Web site won an Emmy for best online production in the nonfiction category. Last Hijack Interactive is presented as a timeline of real events that started in the ‘90s and continued on with related events in the present. Site users experience the hijacking of a ship by Somali pirates, a true story from the perspectives of the kidnapped English captain and the Somali pirate leader. This multi-platform interactive piece was developed and directed by Femke Wolting and Tommy Pallotta, founders of the Amsterdam-based Submarine Channel storytelling platform. It can also be experienced via iTunes and Netflix.

Emergent serves as an online journalist tool. It's a real-time rumor tracker that's part of a research project sponsored by Columbia University's Tow Center for Digital Journalism. This project focuses on unverified information reported in the media. It checks the current status of a specific rumor and determines if it's true, false, or unverified. Click on a specific story and it shows a visualization of sources reporting the rumor. Emergent is the brainchild of Montreal-based journalist Craig Silverman.

Soon There Will Be No Survivors
Soon There Will Be No Survivors is a long-form multimedia journalism article presented on the Creativist storytelling platform and sponsored by Tablet Magazine, a daily online magazine of Jewish news, ideas, and culture. Soon There Will Be No Survivors offers portraits of nine Holocaust survivors living in poverty in New York City. Text is by Matthew Fishbane and the beautiful photo portraits are by Jason Florio. And short video interviews accompany the portraits of each person.


truth is an anti-smoking campaign Web site created to warn and educate smokers and non-smokers. The site is part-advocacy, informing visitors of marketing ploys by "Big Tobacco," and part-infotainment. The advocacy part includes "Take Action" where site visitors can post their opinions about tobacco consumption and marketing in a creative way. The infotainment part includes an anti-smoking animated music video called "LipSyncDat." This national tobacco prevention Web site serves as an effective and creative counter-marketing campaign aimed at youth and young adults. truth originated as a Florida-based anti-smoking campaign. Its creative approach then drew national attention. The Web site is sponsored by the non-profit American Legacy Foundation.

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.