Jayne Loader: Oh, gee, Bryan, I don't know if I should admit this, but you interrupted a particularly ugly part of my life as a multimedia goddess. (And, no, I was not cruising porn sites to update "Sex Sites That Don't Suck.") You interrupted a much more sordid activity ... The Monthly Search for Filthy Lucre.
WCOL: Congratulations on finding a publisher for the disk - In an interview with indelibleNews, you emphasized how much more difficult it is to fund & find distribution for a mu ltimedia production, even though multimedia is both cheaper and faster, as far as production costs go - Why is this? Just the state of the market, or due to investor wariness?
JL: It's a very complicated question. Most mainstream CD-ROM production companies are not at all interested in acquiring product from people like me, even in the case of a product as commercially viable as HoopDreams Interactive (which we have not yet been able to fund). They want to do everything in-house and to thus control every part of the production. The multimedia industry is becoming a monopoly, like other industries, controlled by the major players. Small companie s are getting squeezed out, because they cannot get space for their products on the shelves. And anything deemed risky, or political, or artistic (that is, everything I do) is just not being funded because production companies want to stick with what t hey already know how to sell. They think Americans are morons who only want to play games and are gearing most of their product toward 14-year-old boys.
WCOL: The Public Shelter Website mentions that the Public Shelter CD is being reprogrammed down to 256 colors as part of the publishing deal -With the attention to including high-quality sound & images that went into Public Shelter, how do you feel about it being dropped down to a lower color scheme? What about everyone else who worked on it?
JL: I feel fine about it and so does everyone else on the project, if it
will result in more sales, and hopefully a little bit money for all of
us and the ability to repay our long-suffering investor
s. I mean, the
original version is still available. It is not being carted off to the
dump. So people with high-end machines who want a higher-quality
product can still buy the first edition of Pu
blic Shelter from us.
WCOL: I imagin e it seemed natural to release Public Shelter in the multimedia format - especially because of the abundance of text files, but how do you feel about Public Shelter constantly being referred to as 'The son of 'Atomic Cafe''? Does that infringe on the disk's personality, or was Public Shelter just the next logical step to take as far as presentation goes?
JL: I think it was the next logical step. Public Shelter is a sequel to 'The Atomic Cafe' and I have no problem with it being described as such. At one point, we were going to call it "The Atomic Cafe Interactive" but were unable to do so, because I couldn't afford to license the title from my original production company. How ever, Public Shelter goes far beyond "The Atomic Cafe" in terms of its content. Where "The Atomic Cafe" is strictly about the atomic bomb in the United States during the Cold War, Public Shelter is about the bomb, plus nuclear power and nuclear waste, and covers the international scene, extending to the present day.
WCOL: Jumping from film to multimedia - That's quite a leap for a producer to make. Tell me what you like about producing multimedia as opposed to film, and tell me what you hate. You can start with hate if you want to. :)
JL: What I hate is what I've already discussed - not getting paid. This is a big problem for everybody I know, particularly for people who write for the Web. (For some reason, publishers think they should pay us less money for an article written in html with links than they pay for straight text!) But the form is wonderful. I love being able to combine so many different types of media into one art work. For an appropriation artist like me, t his is heaven.
WCOL: You've made a career out of pursuing the intimate details of very specific subjects - What is it that sparks your attention about certain things? When do you hit that point where you can say to yourself "OK, I really want to know about this, I want to do a project on this subject, let's get busy ?"
JL: It's totally subjective. I have boxes full of ideas for projects, 95
percent of which will never be produced. Usually, I have five or six
projects in developme
nt at any given moment and the one that actually gets produced is the one that gets funded first.
WCOL: Flygirls looks like it's coming along - (The site really grabs your attention.) Does it surprise you that no one else has done an in-d epth work on female aviators before? Or am I wrong, has there been some sort of detailed production on the subject, anything near the amount of detail you've assembled on the subject?
JL: There have been many Amelia Earhart projects - some go od and many bad - and a couple of solid projects on women aviators in World War II. Plus there are many good biographies on individual women aviators, like Beryl Markham. But no one, as far as I know, is working on the 1929 Women's Air Derby. Why? I would guess because the story is so complicated. There are 19 different pilots, flying 19 different planes. All of them have husbands, lovers, and friends. There are something like 40 major characters in the story and all of them have to be researched. It's a massive job! But a perfect project for hyperfiction. You can follow the story day by day, pilot by pilot, city by city, or randomly, by clicking on links within the text.
WCOL: Regarding Flygirls, can you tell me how much of the website is historical truth, and how much is fiction or the result of a character composite? I ask because the site includes things I can't ever imagine anyone putting down on paper, deeply personal details etc. How much l icense do you have with the facts, when mixing art and history?
JL: The form I'm trying to work in is similar what Doctorow did in
"Ragtime" - taking historical characters and constr
ucting a story around them that may not be "true", but is true to what we know of the real people and consistent with their characters. So, the bare-bones facts are all true, but some of the personal things are pure speculation, based on what I know about
the characters and their personalities. These personal things are simply not written down anywhere, but your characters have to have personal lives, so you have to supply them.
For example, Pancho Barnes and Ramon Navarro. Pancho, in her
autobiography, described having a "relationship" with Ramon Novarro during the period I'm writing about. She doesn't say what kind of relationship, but she implies t
hat it was sexual. We know from other sources that Novarro was homosexual or possibly bi-sexual and loved to cross-dress. Pancho Barnes was heterosexual and also loved to cross-dress. What went on between them in the bedroom? We can only speculate - and I
WCOL: Finally, on Hyperfiction - why hasn't the world caught on yet? (Besides the New York Times, that is.) If this is the direction of the new media, why is it that the majority of the new applications are, like you said, geared towards 14-year olds?
JL: The problem with hyperfiction is
that it is mostly being written by academics, many of whom are not particularly great writers. There's been much more attention to form than to content. But I think this is changing and there are a number of interesting hyperfiction projects, coming out
on the Web. As more hyperfiction is launched on the Web, instead of on floppies, I think it will become more popular. However, putting writing up on the Web, for free, means the authors don't get paid--sob!