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Conspiracy for Good

Heroes' creator Tim Kring, talks to Dazed about his new project.

Tim Kring, creator of global television phenomenon Heroes has a new project. The Conspiracy for Good is a multi media, multi faceted drama that blurs fact with fiction and gives a platform to good causes all around the world.

Using YouTube and it’s own forum the tale of the members of secret organization The Conspiracy for Good and their battle against the evil Blackwell Briggs is spun out over the web. As the action reaches London, members  (that means you) can take to the streets and solve the puzzle of the 10,000 missing books and take on the evil Blackwell Briggs.

As fiction merges with reality Tim Kring hopes the Conspiracy for Good will be taken over by its members who will champion their own individual causes and create a force for good, which will change the world. Events are taking place in locations all over London and over the next two weeks and members can take part in the drama and defeat the evil Blackwell Briggs.

Dazed caught some time with Tim Kring to find out what this is all about and how he sees the Conspiracy for Good making a difference in the world.

Dazed Digital: What made you want to start a project like this one?
Tim Kring: Well I had been working on Heroes for many years with the idea of creating a story on multiple platforms; we didn’t just have a broadcast television show it was a broadcast on multiple platforms. We extended the story into all these various digital platforms and various publishing and merchandising and global all of that and I became very interested in telling a story in a less traditional way as opposed to a traditional model which is where you push contact in kind of one direction. The Conspiracy for Good was an attempt to take this further than we had done with heroes.

Maybe another and more important reason was that I had felt that with heroes there was an underlying message in the show about interconnectivity and global consciousness and we talked a lot about saving the work and I think in the first series alone we must have used the phrase ‘we are all connected’ about a hundred times so when I realized that the audience was very connected to this underlying message and that they had felt a very strong connection to that I felt that it would be great to find a way to harness an online community that knew how to connect to one another and to try and harness it and do something real and positive in the world. We’d been talking about saving the world in a fiction, what if we could have that spill out into the real world and have real world implications to a narrative?

DD: With television shows available (albeit illegally) on the Internet do you think that this is a logical step for drama?
Tim Kring: Well I think it’s sort of a necessity right now that people are very rarely offline anymore.

DD: I’ve been exploring the site and it’s hard to see where the fiction ends and reality begins-can members take part in the drama?
Tim Kring: The whole idea was to blend reality with fiction. The truth is that this is a movement, a narrative based movement, the narrative had fictional elements to it but the whole idea is to create a real work movement around it.

In other words, there is no such thing as The Conspiracy for Good but there will be once we have built it and the narrative will help build it. Then the idea is that when that community becomes a real community that continues to create positive change in the world. The whole idea was to try to figure out how to launch a movement for good off the back of a narrative. But the narrative itself blends reality and fiction. I mean, out fictitious bad guy Blackwell Briggs clearly walks a very thin line between a real evil corporation, ones that we are all familiar with and are responsible for all kinds of corporate greed in the world.

And then our protagonists… Nadirah the schoolteacher from Zambia is really Nadirah X who is sort of playing herself, where the fictitious version of Nadirah ends and the real Nadirah starts in very blurred.

DD: Do you think that it would ever get to the stage that members, or non- members, would start to upload their own videos and the story would develop in that way?
Tim Kring: Well, that is the whole idea, one of the things I kind of learnt from working on a show with the extent of the transmedia extensions of Heroes was that the audience is a very hungry beast, it had to be fed constantly if you’re going to going to just feed them story almost to the point where it becomes too much the consume content very quickly, the eat through it very quickly so the only real to actually have something sustainable is to allow for as much user generated content as you possibly can. So you give the participants or the audience in this case the chance to create as much as you possibly can that is how you guarantee that this is sustainable. By creating a place where people can bring their own causes to it and socially network around causes. It really does lend itself to a user-generated world where people can fill up the conspiracy and make it a reality.

If we were to rely only on what was given to us by storytellers then we would be taxed way to heavily and we would run out of story very quickly.

DD: But Heroes, a more traditionally told drama went on for a really long time?
Tim Kring: But at any given time there were eleven writers in the writers room and a giant machine with close to four hundred people making the show each week. So it takes a tremendous amount to crank out that kind of content. It’s a hugely taxing endeavor too.

The most potent brands in the world at the moment are the ones that are perceived to own themselves. So if people can find a sense of ownership with the Conspiracy for Good, they can feel that they are a part of building it and making it. I think it’s the most potent way to build a real movement.

DD: Do you feel a movement like this is needed?
Tim Kring: do, I absolutely do. When you look at the ability of people to connect so quickly and so powerfully nowadays you look at the power of the Internet and even the power of geo-social networking sites. I think taking the ability to connect, in that way and putting a real world positive action to it I think is a worthy and powerful cause or endeavour to take on and that’s what conspiracy for good is trying to do.

DD: And with certain media ownership issues we have it’s hard to promote certain causes at all…
Tim Kring: Yeah, and this relies very heavily on becoming viral and word of mouth and so what we’re doing in London now is really just the pilot for this we’re trying a very small version of this which is controllable and that we can build on and learn from and that’s what this particular narrative that rolls out over the next few weeks, that’s what it’s kind of all about.

It’s a precursor and fore runner for a much larger roll out which hopefully will follow in the next several months.

DD: And what should people expect if they turn up to the next event?
TK: Well the Brick Lane event was really fantastic, first of all it’s in much more of a contained space than the last one as that one was all along the Thames but this was more contained and on a Saturday Brick Lane is very alive. We had some very interesting and colourful diversions, which just kind of popped up in the middle of the street. We were searching for the abandoned headquarters for the Conspiracy for Good.

DD: How do you see The Conspiracy for good developing, in five years time what would be your ideal scenario?
Tim Kring: Well, we’d obviously like to have seen it having exploded into something powerful and quite big and obviously I think the best thing that can happen is that in five years from now is that people could actually tell the story to one another about how this all started as kind of game on the streets of London and a lot of people won’t believe that is where it all generated from but the truth is that I could see a more pervasive narrative that takes place wherever you are and the clues to the narrative are all around you. They’re on the signs that you see everyday on your way to work, they’re in the songs that you listen to, they’re in the places where to go to get a coffee in the morning and so it becomes a kind of geo-social world.

Wherever you are you are socially connected to this Conspiracy for Good and it’s a pervasive experience, it’s all around you. It allows you to access causes you are interested in and promote things you’re interested in, get involved in the real world and have meet ups and events and ultimately the goal is to do something real and with this particular event we are funding the building of a library in Zambia, stocking it with books and giving 50 scholarships to schoolgirls and that’s just a small drop in the ocean of what I think we can do when this movement really takes off.

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