On December 2, 1999, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates attended a charitable function in Los Angeles and was gunned down. It never happened, of course, but it's the premise of a critically acclaimed film not coming to a theater near you. The film is a fictional documentary about looking for the truth behind the official story of a lone gunman.
It's also the first feature to have its worldwide commercial distribution solely on the internet. "I thought it was pretty courageous of the filmmaker to do a story about someone who's living, an assassination," said Amy Lerner-Maddox, chair of the Film and Television Department at Savannah College of Art and Design. "I also think it's very innovative to start showcasing work on the internet."
The film, called Nothing So Strange, exists in a richly realized online reality where its fictional events come alive, with sites like Citizens for Truth and Bill Gates Is Dead maintaining the fiction.
The movie has been shown in a very few theaters and at festivals, but it's online its makers want you to experience it. Lerner-Maddox says it's a strategy that should appeal to viewers, and an example for the filmmaker. "It shows an entrepreneurship that is very rarely seen," she said. "And someone now can make a film, anyone can make a film and sell it. And so it really opens up the door for artists."
Another reason for online distribution is that this is a truly interactive project. If you want to play Oliver Stone, the Gates assassination and other key scenes from the film are available for purchase for use in your own films. For as little as twenty-five cents, anyone with an internet connection can download the building blocks for the next underground classic.
The full version of the film costs $5.
As for Bill Gates' response, he's only said--through a spokesman--that he finds it "disturbing" anyone would base a movie on the theme of his assassination.