Collapsus is a brand-new multiplatform project produced by the Dutch company SubmarineChannel. Under the direction of Tommy Pallotta, this experience combines interactivity, animation and fiction with documentary footage. Collapsus offers a peak into the near future and imagines how the imminent energy crisis affects a group of ten young people, who appear to be caught up in a conspiracy.
Nominated at the EMMY Digital Awards and winner of SXSW Interactive Awards in the Film category, Collapsus is designed around the documentary Energy Risk, at the demand of Dutch broadcaster VPRO. The goal was to attract a different and younger audience than traditional documentary viewers. Presented as a transmedia project, Collapsus is deployed though only two media, TV and web. On the last media, Collapsus is proposing to the cybernauts an interactive experience through different content on each platform. On the TV, the audience can simply watch the classic documentary Energy Risk.
The director presents his project like a “pioneering approach that blends real documentary footage with mini-games and movie fragments, inviting you to choose your own perspective as the story unfolds. Interact and make decisions to avoid further blackouts; get a broader perspective by listening to the experts; or observe the consequences for everyday people through the fictional story”
On the project’s main website, the players are required, through an interactive game, to make decisions that leave their mark on a global scale. Collapsus is reiterating the codes “of serious gaming” by developing through a game an important issue in an informative and educational goal. The cybernaut is learning to judge the gravity of national governments’ decisions on theirs energetic politics by trying to put an end to a virtual energetic catastrophe.
The story starts in 2012 and takes the cybernaut in crucial moments in time, until 2025. The audiences will virtually visit a series of locations such as London, the Ukraine, Teheran and Colorado. Live action footage combined with animation will unfold the current political situation – as well the characters’ course of destiny.
The experience is guided by one of the characters vlog posts of Vera and her friends as they attempt to figure out not only their personal problems, but also what is happening in their collapsing world – and what they can do to create a livable future world.
Collapsus can be seen as an experimentation of transmedia power, as producer Bruno Felix says, “We always try to approach complex issues in appealing and engaging ways. It was very interesting to produce a transmedia project because it is an emerging genre that is still in development and experimentation is still possible”.
If we base ourselves on the Producers Guild of America criteria, Collapsus can’t be an ad litteram transmedia concept (as stated in this Wikipedia article) the experience unfolds his story only on two media, the TV and the Internet. Nevertheless, Collapsus seems a very interesting experience because of its double targeting strategy for a documentary: the young audience is involved through the interactive online platform and the mass audience through TV exposure. Its success could give some ideas to the audiovisual producers, by proving that using a certain dose of interactivity and “serious gaming” can be of interest in enlarging the frontiers of the storytelling universe.