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Events, not ARGs: Interview with the founders of 4th Wall

EagleEyeFreeFall It’s a little bit video games, a little bit Internet, all 21st century storytelling.

That’s the idea of Fourth Wall,
the interactive “event” company formed by three of the founders of 42
Entertainment, makers of Microsoft’s famous “I Love Bees” alternate
reality game to promote “Halo.”

All of their projects so far have been marketing campaigns for films like “Eagle Eye” (above right) and “Watchmen” (below left) and the short-lived NBC TV show “Kings.”

But
they’re aggressively looking to start producing their own original
content and are starting to connect with partners for just that
purpose.

The Fourth Wall guys are currently working with
“Wanted” director Timur Bekmambetov to develop a multi-media project
called “Nano.”

“Their art form is like research and development
for new and exciting products,” Bekmambetov said of their
collaboration, “helping me to find a way to combine film language and
the game world and install them in our real world by using film
language in the game world to create an alternative reality.”

I
sat down with the Fourth Wall team – chief designer Elan Lee, chief
creative Sean Stewart, and president and executive producer Jim
Stewartson (That’s Stewart and Stewartson working on the “Eagle Eye”
project on the bottom left) – at the Game Developers Conference in late
March to talk about their company, their goals and their new form of
storytelling.

Ben Fritz
: Tell me a little bit about what Fourth Wall is and how you guys got started.

Elan Lee:
Well, with these two fine gentlemen and two other friends, we founded
42 Entertainment, that created what was sort of known as the world’s
first alternate reality games.

We really started to get our
feet wet in what this new form of storytelling could be. How it works,
how you engage with an audience, what to means to tell stories on the
Internet.

When we did that for a few years, we decided if ever
there was a time to start a company that is solely devoted to
continuing that evolution, to taking that next step in a new form
storytelling, this is that time, because we’ve got some much knowledge
and so much experience.

Jim Stewartson: The other way
that we like to put that is the Internet — and by Internet I mean your
cell phone and your email and everything — the entire electronic
sphere around you wants to tell stories, just like the movie camera
wanted to tell stories.

BF: In a different way than you were doing at your previous company?

JS: We spent many years throwing essentially rock concerts. Very large, real-time, elaborate
experiences that were really cool and really fun for the people who were involved with them.

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