Steven Soderbergh recently retired from filmmaking, but not without directing three well-received films in the past two years ("Magic Mike," "Side Effects" and "Behind the Candelabra" (see our review for that last one here.). He also stirred up the film community with a rousing keynote at the San Francisco Film Society, which you can read in full here.
And now Soderbergh has launched his new website, Extension765.com, which is billed as a "one-of-a-kind marketplace from Steven Soderbergh."
In an interview with Reuters back in February, Soderbergh explained that the name of the site is a reference to the movie "The Conversation": "Whenever Gene Hackman calls to find out what's going on, Harrison Ford answers the phone and says, 'extension 765.'"
There are a number of elements to the site. First, an eBay-like auction site for bits and pieces from Soderbergh's filmmaking past, with proceeds going to the Children's Aid Society of New York. Goods include an "Erin Brockovich" clapper, "Oceans 13" Cannes tickets and an autographed "Solaris" press kit.
Next, we've got some photos Soderbergh took. These photos, on sale on the site, come with a colorful disclosure:
Full disclosure: the subjects of these polaroids have not been contacted, mostly because I'm sure they would ask to see them all before I put them on sale, and there are hundreds of these things and it would be way too much hassle and, by the way, people are starving and need fresh water and schools so why would somebody want to hold me up? Plus I think technically these may be property of the companies that made the films, but really I'm hoping because the money is going to good causes they won't come after my ass, so you might want to move quickly and not make to much noise about your purchase if you don't want to get me into trouble.
Moving on, Soderbergh's also selling t-shirts, with some in-joke references to businesses in classic films. In the Reuters interview, he gives away the reference to Black Pony Scotch, saying, "That's a very, very obscure reference from a famous film noir from the 1940s where there is a five-second pan across a table and you see this bottle of Black Pony Scotch." The film, it turns out is Otto Preminger's "Laura."
The "Swag" page, where at the moment only t-shirts reside, also includes reference to soon-to-come Steven Soderbergh headphones created by RED (as in the cameras) and the novella he's been tweeting.
And then, Soderbergh exposes plans to sell (though not on the web) his own brand of Singani, a Bolivian spirit distilled from muscatel grapes that was introduced to Soderbergh by his "Che" location scout, the producer Rodrigo Bellot. Included on this page is a video of a roller derby team that doesn't make sense until the last three seconds.
Finally, this Extension 765 thing is maybe possibly a transmedia project? There's a really difficult-to-understand explanation of something called the Department of Human Engineering, and the site also launched with an incredibly strange memo written by "Office Lady No. 23," in which the owner of the site is implicated in a hit-and-run.