By Lance Weiler, May 18th, 2009

Steve Peters has experienced designed some of the most well know ARGs of the last few years. From “Why So Serious” for the Dark Knight to “Year Zero” for NiN – Steve has carefully crafted elaborate experiences for audiences / players that involve extending story and characters across devices and into the real world. Now Steve and a number of others from 42 Entertainment have broken off to form their own shop called No Mimes Media. In our conversation Steve explains how he builds a universe around a project, the need to find better ways to measure success and how to make the experiences accessible to wider audiences.

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Lance Weiler is the founder of the WorkBook Project and also a story architect of film, tv and games. He's written and directed two feature films THE LAST BROADCAST and HEAD TRAUMA. He's currently developing a number of transmedia projects.


  • An interesting post.

    While you are not wrong on your analysis of "The Old Days", you are only partially right. And, while "The New Model" is well articulated and presented, it is not new.

    In addition to the way you describe indie films getting made, many are traditionally funded by banks using collateral in the form of license agreements between the producer and a "buyer" - typically a distributor or end user (like a TV network). Any shortfall in the funding is deficit financed either through investors or Gap financing which is typically more expensive.

    In the old way, films are made using a proof of concept model that has not changed in the last 20 years. The proof of concept model you describe - attracting investors before having an audience - is riskier but could create greater rewards as in the case of a Blair Witch because there are less cooks in the kitchen.

    In the proof of concept model I describe it is filmmaking by committee at its best (or worst). The trade off is lower risk, yet potentially higher cost and watered down profit potential due to pre-selling (a risk mitigation strategy whereby someone who commits today gets the product at a reduced rate as a hedge).

    As for the new model you describe, it is not so new in that "proof of concept" models have existed for years. The main difference is in the intended audience. Prior to the internet, B2C proof of concept was near impossible. The filmmaker would attract elements like a director and VFX team (thereby validating the project) and pitch it to an executive producer, network or distributor who would then further validate the project by licensing it or pitching it to investors, banks or end users. The only difference is that your model, which again is well articulated, takes it to the people.

    The Transmedia model you outline may not be the norm today in a B2C sense, but those that tinker with it today, like yourself, will be in a good position when the shift occurs in full swing.

    Keep forging ahead!

  • @david sorry for the delay responding to your post. With it being the Christmas season I've been offline quite a bit.

    I think Peter has already responded with pretty much how I feel about crowdfunding but I did write a detailed response to the crowdfunding question over at Culture Hacker.

    I'm not sure why you think that friends and family putting money into a movie are suckers while the crowd funding a movie are not? I think it's more likely to be the other way around.

    Just for the record, we have paid cast and crew that worked on my movies. And it would be nice if we could all make a living from making movies. But unfortunately that's not the reality. Most people making features do additional jobs to pay the bills.

    I'm not dismissing fans as finance or marketing at all. But few people have many fans and what for crowdfunding it really comes down to asking strangers to show you charity. I saw one website recently where the producers went on and on about how hard everyone was working and how tough it is to make a film blah blah blah. So what? There's a lot tougher, more boring jobs to do - why should anyone feel sympathy for these people? What they should have done was inspired me. I had to look hard to find out what the movie was about.

    My point is to engage people in your story and sell what content you can so that there's a fair exchange of value. Than use that content and income to build bigger and better. It's still a tough route - absolutely it is. But spending your own cash to create some cool content is better than spending it on business plans and middlemen.

  • Whoa, this guy really knows how to make a point.

    The transmedia business model would give the filmmaker, actors, writers and other craftspeople alot more chances to practice their art. It could also turn into a crowdsourcing project where fans get to make their own version of your videos (or whatever you create before the feature film).

    Rather than just making a movie and quitting this is more about building a community and a vested interest in a storyworld that could lead to a much warmer reception of a film.

    In a way this has been done for years: LOTR and Harry Potter were first done in print (a much cheaper medium), Iron Man and Spiderman were worked out on paper before ever becoming a film.

    You can use the best of what franchises do and use it to make your own indie project.


    very good artcle.the analysis each model is integral to social awareness and indipendent film maker has to look at the sun twice ,the first to rising sun in the morning ie the film making.with no time to look at the shadow the audience.the second in the evening the beuty of the sun set . its wonderful to have the crowd along with you this time.

    the fact remains even the good films need to be marketed ,with communication skills and that extent even the film maker.

    iam the last person to run for crowd funding,chasing the audience for a is not born out of your sales pitch.

    as don williams put ''you got to sing like you don't need the money, you got to dance like nobody's watching .a film is an art first and forever .

  • We've been following this last model for the last year. We used our own cash to shoot the first fourth of the film. Now we're out of cash and are trying to raise money for developing costs on kickstarter. If we raise that cash we will edit that first fourth and then post it on our website in hopes of raising funds for the second fourth.

    It might be a longer route but once completed we'll have a film completely funded by the fans giving us 100% ownership and control.

    An exciting future awaits.

    p.s. if you want you can check out our kickstarter campaign at

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