Projects 2013 > Orion: Behind the Mask > Journal
Although we haven’t been posting, our project has been moving forwards apace albeit to an extended timescale, given the realities of mapping a three-month REACT project onto the longer timeframe required for the development and production of a feature documentary. We are now coming towards the end of the research phase and are soon to launch a new version of the Orionthemovie website alongside the crowdfunding campaign for the film.
This website will embody the results of our research for the REACT component, creating a ‘wraparound’ experience to encourage audience engagement with the Orion story both pre, during and post the film production process. Moving away from the website’s current 2d poster feel, we are adopting a full screen cinematic approach, to offer our audience another way into the Orion story, ‘I am Orion’, which is integrally linked to the core themes of the film.
Original website aesthetic
In essence, we are posing the question ‘Would you wear the mask?’ as a call to action to encourage our audience to don a mask and think about the compromise that Jimmy Ellis went through in order to achieve the fame, which he craved. He felt trapped by his life in small town Alabama and wearing the mask was what he was required to do, in order to be promoted by Sun Records as ‘Orion’ – or Elvis back from the grave – with all the trappings of success that came with it.
Visitors to the site will be presented with an aesthetic that is seductive, to encourage participation in the call to action, as well as reflection on how the bright lights of Nashville offered an escape from small town America. The aesthetic will also show genuine respect to Orion fans, who admired the authenticity and beauty both of his voice and of his wider personality.
New website aesthetic
After watching a scene setting video which ends with ‘Would your wear the mask?’, visitors will be invited to explore and experience the various facets of the website. They will be able to find out more about the film, its release dates, screenings and so forth; they will be able to browse through a MyOrion gallery of fan submitted materials gathered using the social media service Tint; and they will be participate in an IamOrion experience which currently comprises wearing a pre-prepared digital mask or downloading one or more iconic Orion masks to print out and wear.
Tint call to action
Once wearing a mask, visitors will be able to take a photograph to upload to an IamOrion gallery or to share across social media. They will also be encouraged to forward masks to their friends and to perform and upload a video of themselves performing a ‘tribute to a tribute’. This is an experiment in audience participation which has evolved through our research and which will continue to evolve as we observe how people interact with the site. To help people on their way, To help people on their way, we recorded our call to action in an explicitly cinematic setting and are providing background information on the albums that Orion recorded.
Recorded in Broadway Cinema, Nottingham - courtesy of Jeanie
We firmly believe that the elements that we have put in place over the past few months will create a genuine ‘wraparound’ approach that extends the core themes of the film in new and exciting ways. Whilst the idea of wearing a mask might seem simple enough, it is the context that we set around it and the questions that we wish to provoke in our audience that are of interest. Masks are used almost universally as a symbol, which maintains its power and mystery both for their wearers and their audience. Shelby Singleton of Sun records knew this when he asked Jimmy Ellis to wear one, and Jimmy Ellis knew this when he finally ripped his mask off mid-performance to reveal his ‘true’ self. If the act of wearing a mask can provoke a degree of empathy towards these conflicting emotions in Jimmy Ellis, then we will have succeeded in our aim of achieving enhanced engagement in the core themes of the film.
We also intend the website to be a catalyst for wider forms of engagement. Orion came from a time pre-Google, a time of analogue media, of vinyl, 8 track recordings and celluloid. With this in mind, we are keen to encourage hand-crafting of masks, both to be uploaded to the website and to be worn at screenings of the film. We would like to see tributes being performed live at film screenings and related events. The more creativity that be encouraged amongst fans and associated audiences, the better. This is in keeping with our desire to sow the seeds for the development of an interactive artwork that respects and honours the talents of a now deceased man who many believed to be as charismatic and talented, if not more so, than Elvis himself.
Jimmy 'Orion' EllisPosted by Judith Aston