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FireflyThe Firefly Project : Mutlimedia DVD Based On Firefly
Tuesday 25 November 2003, by Webmaster
This is a brief description of a multimedia DVD project named Firefly: A Special Feature. This project is an attempt to codify a developing genre of multimedia, it is an attempt to bring thoughtful artistic criticism and analysis to a more mainstream audience, and it is a push for one of my favorite TV shows.
Firefly: A Special Feature was originally inspired by the DVD release of the 1998 film Dark City. Thinking that the film is the greatest thing since sliced bread, the film critic, Roger Ebert volunteered to provide a commentary track for the DVD. Other than finding a personal appreciation of the commentary provided by (arguably) the film’s #1 fan, I saw a lot of potential in the taking of text (such as Ebert’s) and putting it into an independent full-length multimedia presentation—so as to better provide opportunity for the author to illustrate his point or provide an interactive feel to traditional narrative criticism. I am moving to create a prototype of the presentation that I have in mind using a piece of narrative fiction that is in position to be soon released into the DVD market.
Given my approach from the "digital media" industry perspective, it is tempting to assume that the details of this piece of narrative fiction are irrelevant to the significance of the project. This may be ostensibly true, but it seems clear that the nature and feel of this "presentation" must reflect its content in more than superficial ways. In short, this DVD will be designed to become a part of the canon surrounding the primary material in question. It is then important for us to gain some insight into the nature of "Firefly".
"Firefly" is a television program that aired on FOX Network from October to December of 2002. After low ratings, more than $25 million dollars, and 11 episodes, the program has been cancelled. Firefly is the latest creation of Joss Whedon, the producer of Buffy, The Vampire Slayer.
Whedon is popular for his serialized narratives and a willingness to try and second-guess or surprise audiences. "Firefly" takes this tendency to an extreme, and adds to the mix spontaneity and a surprisingly intense dramatic atmosphere. The program is set in the 26th century when humans have invented efficient space travel, colonized numerous planets, and largely dispensed with the hope of a just and powerful government. Many humans live out of the direct control of the rich and powerful "Alliance", and a frontier mentality pervades life outside of the "core planets".
On a ship flying around this frontier is where the main characters find themselves. Like many people of their era, they have limited access to technology, and they must survive and make a living with few moral/legal constraints or protections. Firefly has been billed as a "western set in space", and this assertion is not unjustified. The violence is sudden, the characters are gritty and talkative, and the adventure is ever-present.
It is my intention to write, from a layperson’s perspective, a textual commentary on the significance and meaning of this television show. Basically, this means that I will explain why Firefly is one of the most evolved bits of drama that I have ever seen. My final project will involve the translation of this text into multimedia format. It will be accessible. The writing style will be aimed for the less academic audiences of Firefly, and the multimedia editing will roughly correspond to the style of the TV show.
It is popular nowadays to include supplementary material onto a published DVD—including interviews with the Key Grip or some such barrel-scrapings. Nonetheless, fans of a particular piece of fiction eat up this stuff. A director’s commentary, for instance, is a popular addition that often presents itself in the marketing and in the fans’ discussions.
I see an opening for writers, critics, and documentarians to latch on to this fan support for their favorite films and television programs by producing independent multimedia commentaries (or "appreciations"). Producers of Firefly or other primary material will look favorably on these multimedia productions because this new genre, by its very nature, is good press for the original work. In addition, everyone involved will find some value-add in this product, because the "special features" (that accompany a regular DVD release and that are routinely produced merely as an afterthought) will receive a boost of creative energy from an independent source that will take nothing away from the profitability and impact of the primary released material.
So, the plan is to take the text of my commentary and selected multimedia from Firefly and create a DVD (complete with menus, chapters, soundtrack, and branding) that is designed to be released in parallel with the episodes themselves. My tentative completion date is July of 2003.