Crowdsourcing + Open Source + Blade Runner = Purefold

If there's one thing we're good at as sci-fi fans, it's second-guessing story creators. Every writer's room decision echos across the 'net: "That was a horrible choice!  They totally should have... If I were the writer, I would have..." Purefold -- envisioned as the first large-scale, open media sci-fi franchise -- asks us to put our time and effort where our (collective) mouth is. They're handing us the responsibility of developing the story and universe -- and giving fan fic a whole new meaning.

Helmed jointly by independent studio Ag8 and Free Scott (a division of Tony and Ridley Scott's company RSA Films), Purefold will serve as an umbrella franchise for a variety of cross-media projects set two to five years in the future. While Ag8 intends Purefold to be loosely based in the Blade Runner universe (and to deal with similar themes), Ag8 said it will not directly use any copyrighted Blade Runner or Philip K. Dick material. Stories will initially take the form of self-contained web shorts and interactive content but could potentially expand to television or other formats in the future. Together, the individual stories will work to build a larger shared universe and deal with the overarching question of "what does it mean to be human?"

All Purefold content will be released under a Creative Commons License, thereby allowing all related content and intellectual property to be recycled back into the community. Anyone may create their own content for the franchise, so long as it is released under the same conditions, though studios will likely create the bulk of the content. While RSA's pool of directors will be tasked with bringing these stories to life, Purefold is challenging the fans to create the stories.

Purefold envisions stories driven by direct community involvement, as expressed via various social networking and life streaming tools. In the project's discussion group on FriendFeed, Purefold encourages people to share ideas, debate themes, and make suggestions. Ag8 cofounders David Bausola and Tom Himpe -- as well as Ridley Scott's son Luke -- actively monitor and participate in the discussions. Once the project builds momentum and begins work on its first release, they plan to leave the story entirely to community members.

The business model for Purefold is an unconventional one, too. Purefold's financial support will (hopefully) come from brands, but not in the traditional product placement sense. Instead, Purefold will populate the story universe with prototype or concept products, turning the franchise into a product development and testing tool for financeers. And by avoiding current, recognizable products, Purefold hopes these placements will seem less obtrusive to the audience.  Considering the negative buzz caused by product placement in the most recent Star Trek film, this is probably a good idea.

There you have it: a franchise that not only listens to fans, but depends on fan fic to drive the 'verse. If Purefold continues as planned, I personally can't wait to see -- and maybe even contribute to -- the result.  What about all of you GWCers?  What's your take on the idea?

Purefold [Official AG8 Page]
Purefold [Discussion Group]
Purefold [Twitter]

7 Responses to "Crowdsourcing + Open Source + Blade Runner = Purefold"
  1. Default Prophet says:

    Sounds interesting…..very interesting. I wonder how they’ll deal with things of a less savory nature/how moderated it will be

  2. FrenchToast says:

    Thanks, John. Awesome article.

    I have conflicting feelings about this. Like the open source nature and ability to aggregate and bubble-up fan-generated media, but concerned ultimately about potential monetization of content that by-passes the creator, as well as potential for product placement integration w/content (outside the creator’s control).

  3. Pike says:

    Thanks for the post, John. It looks like an interesting project.

    @FrenchToast, the ‘creator’ in this case would be the mash-up artist, much as Disney ‘created’ Snow White, et al., based on other people’s work. (With vastly shorter copyrights to contend with, BTW.)

  4. FrDavid says:

    Hi John, Thanks for the lovely write up.

    Default Prophet, FriendFeed have developed some very smart tools for balancing community behavior, from blocks and comment stopping, mainly to stop the real-time mobbing. In short, I think follow their lead on this.

    FrenchToast. Have a look the Creative Commons licence we are using. It’s the Attribution – Share Alike version (BY-SA 3), which means you can commercialize and remix. Also, the focus is away from product placement in favor of products/services of the (near) future. It’s more R&D than product placement.

    Pike, Thanks!

  5. FrenchToast says:

    @Pike, yes, but in this proposed model, there are many *layers* of authorship involved leading up to a final (if even that) media deliverable…esp thorny when the term “harvesting” is adopted as a means to gain content.

    Issues related to creative commons have been debated endlessly elsewhere by people more sensitive to the topic than I ever could be, but I think it’s always intriguing to question and observe how collaborative creativity actually works.

  6. frakkintalos says:

    This sounds like what The Beatles were trying to do with Apple Records(obviously not affiliated with Mr. Jobs). Hopefully, this fairs better. It’s an intriguing concept. Great job, John. Thanx for the knowledge.

  7. nano X says:

    —This one is strictly for the techno-cirle-jerks of our glutted and debauched comfort-zone.

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