Who would you cast in a movie about the web?

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been helping Brett Gaylor and Henrik Moltke write up a movie concept. The idea: a documentary about the web, by the web. People around the world would contribute ideas, clips and remixes. The best stuff would roll into a core storyline with regular releases or episodes.

A part of Drumbeat, the goals for this movie project are pretty clear. 1. Help people understand how the web works and why its open nature matters so much. 2. Push the envelope on cool uses of HTML5 <video> and on the open source filmmaking process. 3. Give filmmakers, musicians and artists an easy, fun way to contribute to making the web better.

What’s harder is the storyline. Of course, much of this will come from the people of the web. That’s the point. But you need to start with something. A thesis. A point of view. The small bits of stuff we’ve written on this feel a bit stodgy and unsurprising. Good stories about the internet for sure, but stories we already know.

As a way to insert some creative juice into the process, I did a little experiment at #nsc1: I asked people to put themselves in the casting director’s chair. Each person I talked was invited to propose one character for the movie. Here are some quotes of what people suggested:

  • Peter Pan. Because the internet is alot like Neverland.
  • The transformers. They’re pretty geeky, but also cool. More to the point, they have the same sort of open ended adaptability that the internet has.
  • Web spiders. DNS. And other invisible agents that make up the web under the hood. Bring them to life as characters.
  • Doug Englebart and Ted Nelson. Focus on the unsung pioneers and thinkers behind the internet, not just the names we’ve all heard of.
  • My grandmother. That’s who I am trying to help when I try to make the internet better and simpler. She should be in the movie.
  • Myself. I am a part of the internet. I help make it when I use it and contribute content. I should be a part of the movie. And so should everyone else on the internet.
  • Anonymous. Our anonymous identities are just as much a part of the web as our public identities.

This was a really fun — and useful — session to run. So fun that I want to keep it going here. I’m extending the invitation to you: if you could cast one character in the movie version of the web, who or what would it be? If you have an idea, please post a comment.


  1. Delphine replied on | Reply

    Girl Talk!
    Because he can really express the possibilities of the open web, and much more too…(remix culture, copyright, etc)

  2. ashughes replied on | Reply

    A cold steel cube representing proponents of the proprietary — because part of being open is allowing those who want to be closed to be closed

  3. Jason Orendorff replied on | Reply

    “But you need to start with something. A thesis. A point of view. The small bits of stuff we’ve written on this feel a bit stodgy and unsurprising.”

    The Woody Allen movie “Everything you always wanted to know about sex (but were to afraid to ask)” comes to mind. It’s divided into sketches that vary in tone, length, and …degree of realism? In one sketch Woody Allen plays a spermatozoon, is what I’m getting at.

    That kind of approach offers participants the freedom to try whatever they want locally without worrying about the logic or unity of the whole.

    They’re going to do that anyway: I think you have to “put a bow on” variability, somehow turn it from a bug into a feature.

  4. John Britton replied on | Reply

    I think the movie is a great idea. I’m was on the call but for some reason when I tried to unmute myself nobody could hear me or each other.

    The idea of having a ‘hyperlink’ character is great. IMHO that would be best represented as a group of people (a huge crowd of people wearing blue, red, and purple).

    I’d love to see the movie/video done in the style of “Internet Party”

    Internet Party: When Google’s parents leave town…(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VgQMTLKmwrA)
    Internet Party 2: An Intervention for MySpace(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Br5WPzy4HHk)

    Although these definitely are not documentary style, they are quite viral.

  5. Jacqueline nuwame replied on | Reply

    Mark, it was great speaking with you at the canada new media awards. Let’s talk some more when you have a moment about transmedia storytelling, the cfc media lab has made some interesting work in this space.

  6. Havvy replied on | Reply

    I’d have that guy from the UPS whiteboard commercials, since he was suppose to train the actors, but got the position instead. He seems to know how to convey thoughts easily.

  7. Christine Prefontaine replied on | Reply

    A really smart big-thinker type with a critical view to introduce some dramatic tension. Otherwise it will just be a big love fest (boooorrrrinnggg…). Darin Barney? I know, I know, I sound like a broken record. Who else?

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