Late last year we checked in on an online horror performance in which the characters were interacting live with the audience. Killcam Live was an extremely unique concept, a live horror event playing out before us.
Then, what started as a small project suddenly exploded into an online movement which tallied over 3 million views.
“It was really great to have all those people come in and get excited,” said one of the featured performers in Killcam Live, Sam Weller. “It was a boon.”
As it turned out, Killcam Live was a six-week live performance that allowed fans to interact directly with the performers via webcam. The actors would rotate into a kill room, spending as much as 72 hours, and sometimes more, in the room, directly connected to the fans. The actors would react to the input from the fans to create the story on the fly.
Project creator, April Wade, felt the story helped add to the snowball effect of the popularity of Killcam Live. “A lot of the story spoke for itself and people would bring in their friends,” Wade said. “It was a big boost for us to be on the uStream front page. And, of course, Dread Central and other websites wrote great stuff going into it saying, ‘I don’t know what this is, but it looks cool.’ And it sort of spread like wildfire.”
However, the true strength in the John Darko directed Killcam Live project was certainly the realistic feel to it, giving viewers a voyeuristic look into the lives of the victims. “We went to great lengths as producers and actors to make our online profiles as real and in depth as possible,” Wade said. “So it wasn’t just the look of the room, but the minute you opened up the internet and saw who these people were with the Facebook pages and Twitter feeds. We wanted to make it as immersive an experience as possible.”
Weller added, “We’re talking about fans from all over the globe who are very tech saavy,” he said. “They found my personal Facebook page and continued with the ‘Team Lenny’ fan page to continue to interact with me through Facebook and Twitter.”
With a total of nearly 450 hours of live entertainment over the course of six weeks, the members of the Killcam Live team certainly experienced some intense struggles just to keep the project going. “There’s a horror aspect in Killcam,” Weller said. “It’s not necessarily a jump scare. It’s not a psychological twist thing. It’s the pain of watching someone try to survive. And it’s trying to create a relatable human aspect and the horror is how far things are pushed.”
“The minute I hit 72 hours, I told my cohorts on the other side of the wall that we will never make someone do this for 72 straight hours because I felt like I was literally going to die,” Wade said, about a particularly long stretch of time she spent live on camera. “A lot of people chose to share their personal lives with you and it’s not fake, made up lives, it’s who they are and you find people that you want to protect, not only as a character, but as a person.”
It’s hard to fathom the amount of work that went into this project with as slim a skeleton crew as one could hold together. “There were literally five of us on the production crew for 72 straight hours for six straight weeks,” Wade said. “And between the five of us we were really able to push ourselves creatively.”
And the actors needed to be incredibly sharp and effective as they interacted with the audience. “Everything that happened in that room, from an acting perspective, was just pure reaction on what you’re getting from the crowd and what’s the reality you want to give the audience,” Weller said.
Of course, having generated the kind of buzz they did with Killcam Live, Wade is now deciding in which direction to take the project. “We’re moving forward in creating, to me, what is the next step,” Wade said. “Creating live projects has really become a passion of mine. Six weeks with 72 hours per week seemed a bit ambitious, even to us, but we’re going to turn it up a notch, now that we understand how to control an audience and tell a story to them, and with them, to create a new medium.”
And it was, of course, the fans that made Killcam Live the hit it became. “We could not be more grateful for the fans,” Wade said. “They are absolutely what made this. Not only a success by the number of people who watched it, but a success on such a creative, emotional level. Our cast was just incredible, being able to adjust and create something new that’s never been done before. Not knowing where we were going to lead them, the audience allowed us to take them there.”
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