the newspaper: When did the idea for the Guidestones project come about?
Jay Ferguson: There was an article on the Guidestones in Wired magazine in 2008, and it completely piqued my interest because they’re just such an odd structure, and it’s so strange that somebody built these things. I was doing some research on it, and I stumbled across a woman who had a very strange tale to tell around the Guidestones themselves and the experience she had. That story I ended up adapting into now what is Guidestones the series. She had a very odd story to tell, so that’s where it began.
tn: Can you tell me a little bit about the story itself?
JF: The Guidestones are shrouded in mystery, and she had come across an unsolved murder, which I checked on, and which was legitimate. In her investigation, because she was a journalism student, an exchange student from India, and into her looking into this, she began to find some weird connections that eventually drove her to the Guidestones in Georgia. From there, she started meeting all sorts of different characters that kind of spun into what she called a conspiracy, and that she pieced together.
tn: Why do you think the story, and the Guidestones themselves, is a good basis for an interactive web series?
JF: I come from a traditional filmmaking background, in terms of documentary, film and television. Around the time that I met this woman, I was also looking into the possibility of creating content for online, and I was developing a model for that. When I saw that this story was online, it’s based in truth, it’s got a kind of conspiracy theory feel to it, it seemed like online was a very natural fit. So I just kind of put the two together and what came out is the project that is known as Guidestones.
tn: How does the interactive portion of the project work exactly?
JF: There are two really important elements to consider with this project that make it really different, the first one being that it’s free to watch, which is a good one. The other thing is that it’s a sign-up model, so you go to the website and you put in your email address, and the emails get sent to you in real time, as the events unfold for the characters in the story. If something happens at 9 o’clock in the morning, you’ll get an email at 9 o’clock in the morning, and that email will have a link to that exact episode. (necessary to understand it? i’m not sure) It’s a very unique distribution model, and it’s never really been done before. Every episode ends with a cliffhanger, and somewhere hidden in that episode is a clue, that you can find as an audience member, and seek out that clue online and it’ll usually take you to a hidden video or website. On that, you can jump ahead of the protagonist.
tn: What do you think is the appeal of the Guidestones project for a university audience?
JF: The protagonists in the story are journalism students. Content-wise, it’s very interesting because it’s about these two students who get sidetracked from their studies to investigate what they find to be weird happenings. It’s very much about that demographic. The other thing I think is really cool is that the episodes are only about three minutes long. They’re perfect little distractions, especially right around now, as exams are beginning. People are studying like crazy, so it’s a cool opportunity to take a three minute break to get away from your work. You can take that three or four minutes out of your day and be transported away.
Click here to find out more about the Guidestones project.