Filmmaking doesn't get much more next-level than Weiler's oeuvre, which has always dealt with the intersection of technology and narrative in fascinatingly dense, innovative ways. Long before the Producers Guild created a transmedia credit, Weiler was working on strategies for engaging audiences in the world of his movies rather than asking them to just sit there and watch them.
In 1998, Weiler directed his debut feature, "The Last Broadcast" (a found footage horror movie that predated "The Blair Witch Project"), shooting and editing the entire project on cheap digital equipment with a $900 budget. It was the first all-digital motion picture released in theaters.
"Actually making cinematic history made me realize I could be creative in terms of the way I get my work out there," he said. For his sophomore feature "Head Trauma," he created a complex artificial reality game that allowed viewers to call a number and listen to a recorded message that deepened the plot of the film.
Anticipating an age defined by second screen experiences and Easter-egg storytelling, Weiler hasn't kept his secrets to himself. He co-hosts an annual series of workshops about progressive storytelling called DIY Days and has started to teach. He's excited about new-found interest in his projects. "The ability to be a storyteller is really valuable," he said. "I feel like more people are starting to move in the direction I've been working in."
"The Last Broadcast." Said Weiler, "Actually making cinematic history made me realize I could be creative in terms of the way I get my work out there."
The original transmedia filmmaker (he prefers to call himself a "story architect" these days), Weiler's methods of telling stories that extend beyond the screen and evolve as interactive experiences didn't quite make sense to some viewers for the first few years of his career. "There was a time when a lot of what I was talking about was a foreign language to people," he said. "Things hadn't caught up with the vision I saw."
While Weiler has carved out a niche in the DIY community by championing transmedia practices, it's still no easy task to tell a coherent story across multiple platforms. He's faced, he said, with "the fragmentation of the landscape and the lack of infrastructure to deliver experiences for audiences."
Weiler developed a transmedia project funded by the Tribeca Film Institute called "Laika's Adventure" designed as a second-screen reading experience for young children. It involves the travels of a plush robot with a heart on her chest that uses sensory technology to tell stories as it travels around the world. The data gathered by the robot will be used to create a digital book series in partnership with Penguin.
Weiler is also serving as creative director on "David Cronenberg's Evolution," a museum exhibit about the director's work scheduled to begin its global tour this fall. Meanwhile, Ted Hope and Christine Vachon are producing Weiler's next feature, "HiM" (an acronym for "Hope Is Missing"), which he hopes to shoot later this year. He's also aiming to launch a "story design lab" at Columbia University.