Cloverfield: The New Way to Tell a Story
The tradition of story telling can be traced back to the origins of human civilization. Humans have always been caught up in stories, from the cave paintings of our ancient ancestors; to the Native American oral traditions stories have captivated humans for the entirety of existence. Due to this fascination with the story, people have always been trying to design better and more complex means of distributing them through the use of technology. When the set type printing press was designed, it made books easily printable and widely available, The advent of the camera enabled the use of images as new way of telling a story, the radio brought the radio play, the first cameras allowed us to use the means of video and silent film, further down the road integrating that video with audio to create the movie experiences. All these advances enabled storytellers a new method to distribute their content, a new way to engage their audiences through the use of technology. The advent of the internet has brought us yet another way to create stories and a new way to engage audiences in a story with bits and pieces. These stories force the subject to dig and search, poke and prod, in what could be called a modern day mystery story. What is this new way of telling as story? The Viral Way. A perfect example of the viral technique can be seen in the clever marketing techniques used by the movie Cloverfield. But Cloverfield’s use of viral is not just a new means of putting up ads, these hidden messages buried in false web sites and hidden mock new clips are pieces of the larger story, left out of the film. For the audiences to get the full experiences they must search and look, follow links, and hints to complete it. This is the true viral encounter.
Viral storytelling, being as new as it is, does not have an exact definition, but it does have quite a few examples. Viral Storytelling can be summed up as such, telling a story through the use of media whether it be film, music, print, or internet sources. The sections of said story are split up and spread around. Typically these stories spawn on the internet and a large majority only use this platform. Viral stories function like an interactive detective mystery. A video or word will pop up somewhere and the interactee will have to follow that clue to proceed further. The clues begin building off of each other and branch out in a web that connects each part of the story to the previous and the next. Usually there is no predetermined order that must be taken in a viral story, mainly due to the nature of information contained. The clues can be arranged in any way and the story understood irregardless as long as the proper connections are made. Many of these stories involve false companies, fake news reports, and mock first-hand accounts usually posted on websites created specifically for the story.
The Cloverfield viral made use of both film and internet in telling its viral story. The Cloverfield project began way back in July 3 2007 on that day the film Transformers was released, produced by J.J. Abrams, the producer of Cloverfield. Before the film began, a preview was shown. The preview was brief and looked like it was shot on a home video camcorder and depicted a monster of some sort ravaging
After searching for Tagruato Corporation one can find a website for the Japanese company, the website resembles the typically company site with information about the company on the main page, a top bar that includes the standard about us and contact us sections, and a side bar on the right featuring recent company news. After reading several of the informative news stories, the reader discovers several references to an incident that occurred at a drilling station Tagruato owns, Chuai station. (Chuai station is later revealed to be off the coast of the
Upon typing Chuai station into practically any search engine a fake a number of fake news clips in several languages including: German, Russian, English, Italian, Korean and Japanese can be found. All these clips depict the same event, a helicopter video of Chuai station very rapidly crumbling and sinking into the ocean. Subsequent to close viewing of the video footage, a tentacle can be distinguished in bottom left corner, clutching the left front post of the drilling station. Another interesting part of the clip depicts survivors escaping the rig and shows a number of pod-like structures launching into the air, the new reporter claims that the reason for this debris is yet unknown. Another clue is also supplied to the viewer in the form of the eco-terror cell earlier referenced but unnamed, T.I.D.O wave.
The TIDO wave site opens with a mock up of the Tagruato intro video where upon the hands turn into claws and gauge the earth, simultaneously crushing it and bleeding out all of the oil. The main portion of the site contains a mission statement bashing Tagruato claiming that they are “bleeding Mother Earth dry” . This site gives a plethora of opinions on why Tagruato is evil and how they are destroying sea eco-systems as well as providing yet another clue a reference to another extremist group, Les Guerriers de Mère-Terre. After searching around for awhile an AOL group can be found for these French revolutionaries, unfortunately most of the site is in French and only the declaration of principles can be read in English and is of no use furthering the story.
After some further research readers can find 3 Japanese manga tie-ins to the film which depict the Cloverfield monster attacking a Japanese city. The third of these manga’s give a fairly good picture of what the creature looks like. Unfortunately these manga’s read like all Japanese writing does- from right to left -so it is fairly difficult to read the story, although Wikipedia summaries can be obtained.
As far as I found, the trail goes dead around here, with the exception of reading the rest of the articles featured on the Tagruato and TIDO wave pages. These articles give a little more insight into the background on the movie, including a few interesting articles on the Tagruato page that hint at the incredible effects Slusho! can have on fish.
Combining the viewing of the Cloverfield film and doing the background research, those who are engaged in the Cloverfield story are treated to a modern mystery story unraveling before their eyes. The story allows the detective to decipher riddles, sort through articles, and pick out clues that shed light on how the monster was created and why it came to attack