by Elvie Parian
Feeling down? Lost that pep in your step? Has it been getting harder and harder to keep going?
Luxury Universal Experience Presents:
Presented in UVX Format.
Rock Bottom refers to both a live performance and in-universe film, in which a LUX show classically goes all wrong, taking the essence of Dante’s Inferno to goofy, children’s theater heights.
LUX attempts to screen the film, Rock Bottom, a rather dull documentary about rocks, only for the LUXos Artificial Intelligence to accidentally transport everyone in the theater into the depths of its inner computer mechanisms after it overreacts to criticism. Together, the attending audience and LUX staff must figure out how to work their way out of LUXos’ tortured cyber mind in this immersive experience!
Although the specific sources of influence for this show range from disaster movies to DIY quality of children’s theater, let’s address some immediate concerns: Look, it’s not our fault that suddenly there’s a zeitgeist of media exploring multiverse concepts, and it was purely coincidental that the Daniels’ Everything Everywhere All At Once had to top off its nuanced explorations of social insecurities and nihilism with an in-your-face rock joke and all, but rest assured—as much as this company loved that shit—it bore no influence in the production of all of this. (It is a great film though. 11/10. Please do watch.)
What Rock Bottom does have, however, is just as much an emotional rollercoaster of an experience that not only provides attendees premium entertainment perks like "LUXurious padded seated in patented hardened plasteel” and direct access to a surplus of spirits, but also literally pulls audience members out of said seats at various points of the show’s duration.
The show is segmented into various “layers”, in which scenes transition from one setting and theme to the next. Each layer represents a film genre, which is a language that LUXos processes the world through. The differences between layers are established and signified by costume, set, and lighting changes. The show also has a forking narrative where audiences can influence which layer the show will transition to next. While not every possible scene can be experienced as a result, each show is unique to each audience.
At the end of the day, although Rock Bottom is about a robot, we hope that we creatively depicted the struggles against the more negative human qualities that we all occasionally are forced to endure, because often, those battles are sometimes worsened within our own head. After all, our artificial intelligence is not evil**—it’s just very anxious!
by Elvie Parian
The future of entertainment is in the stream, and that is why as far back as the late 90s did Luxury Universal Experience break ground with this concept before anyone else did!
LUX LIVE!, the Confluence of Class and Cinema, was a subscription-based web television channel, one of several vanity projects of the late Paulbert Filius Pontifex III Esq. Attempting to pander to the interests of fine living and intellectual elitism, Paulbert himself was the host of LUX LIVE!, the Confluence of Class and Cinema.
Although a whole catalog of material was shot and produced, the project was never properly released out into the world when Paulbert died and LUX went out of business. Years later, way past the height of the New Millennium, the LUXos reawakened and launched LUX LIVE!, the Confluence of Class and Cinema, without any hesitation.
LUX LIVE!, the Confluence of Class and Cinema, is comprised of a library of meticulously selected archival material and originally shot and edited footage. To appease the interests of the modern world, the whole programme is streamed on a daily, rotating schedule on Twitch (following Mountain Daylight Time), all powered and autorun by a big, stupid computer (derogatory) that sits in the film room of Futureproof offices. This big, stupid computer is not to be confused with the in-universe LUXos computer itself, but one can say it is our company’s own real-life parallel to it. (It also has not developed sentience. Yet.)
A general set-up of the jam-packed schedule with their blocks can be seen as below and also referenced on the Twitch channel itself—and with a lot of material still on the backburner, there are expectations that there will be even more programming to come! Lots. Of. It.
- Monday - The Hall of Horrors (Horror-themed)
- Tuesday - The Study of Speculation (Fantasy/Sci-Fi-themed)
- Wednesday - The Gallery of Galivanting (Action-themed)
- Thursday - The Attic of Admonishment (Thriller-themed)
- Friday - The Study of Speculation (Fantasy/Sci-Fi-themed)
If you were to ask me what my thoughts are as one of the writers behind this whole ordeal, I’ll just say that Komodo (1999) kind of sucks and I would not recommend it.
You can all follow these shenanigans and more on Twitch dot TV: Follow, Subscribe, and don’t forget to smash that bell icon to get notifications whenever we go LIVE! at the Confluence of Class and Cinema.
Psweetisagoodgame (dot) com! Date productivity applications in a retro, hand-drawn dating sim set in a fictional operating system that definitely doesn't have a horrible secret! Once Covid hit in March 2020 it was pretty apparent that we would not be able to produce any live event content for quite some time (blink and it’s two years later, who would’ve guessed). We pretty much immediately went into PSweet pitches on March 26th, mostly to stay focused on something with all of the uncertainty. What was meant to be a small simple game quickly turned into a months long project with over 70,000 words, a full soundtrack, and entirely custom graphics.
PSweet released January 1st 2021 and as of May 23rd 2022 has sold 116 copies in over 11 countries! We got an amazing review from the folks over at Wired Magazine, and now most of us can say with varied confidence that we know Ren'Py!
by Shelby Reilly and Scott Bullock
UCC Omega aka the Ultimate Cinema Convention, was our last in person production before the pandemic hit, and a very ceremonious ending to this chapter of the LUX narrative universe.
A large portion of 2019 was at first taken up by the production of The UVX Featuring the Most Dangerous Man, another chunk by administrative and documentation standardization and revitalization, and another large bit by [REDACTED ON THE AUTHORITY OF THE LUX ANTI-SPOILER BRIGADE]. Of course, it’s not like the LUX Universe had been silent: the Buddy Resistance, Central Services, and LUX were still up to shenanigans, but had moved to mostly online releases for the most part.
The first version of a LUX Streaming Channel, then called LUX Omega, was launched, the Resistance started having Discord Discourse, and the conspiracy theorists of Central Services were busily revamping their web presence and recruiting a team to enhance their anti-LUX capabilities. Things were moving in the wake of the UVX Featuring the Most Dangerous Man, and that’s when we started plans for the year’s big physical event, the Ultimate Cinema Convention, or UCC.
A send-up of D23, E3, and any number of comic-cons, UCC was a clearing house for every stupid idea LUX had ever had. Throughout the night, the audience was encouraged to engage in dozens of installs and minigames that would bring them in contact with a variety of doofy characters and factions, all jockying to enlist their aid. The Resistance was there handing out USB drives and asking the audience to find the ports hidden throughout the venue to inject code and hack the mainframe. Central Services had realized that LUX Director Ronnie Champaign was actually a brainwashed ex-member who had lost his memory, and enlisted the audience in breaking his conditioning and bringing him back into the fold (by T posing and chanting “Renew”). Ex 8th-Row Member Bill was there as a Resistance plant and member of the Press, and Bruce Warford was the new LUX deliveryman who needed football-themed encouragement to finish his deliveries. All this revolved around the LUX Votable Keynote presentation heavily reference and alluded to through the night with a big announcement about the future of LUX.
Including locations like the micro-movie theater “Omegaplex”, the chivalrous customer service and fan-club “Lux Knights” Booth, The Hard Rock Cafe spoof “Most Dangerous Lounge”, “The Carousel of Paulbert”, a propoganda-heavy mini-museum and audio tour of LUX History, a shitty cubicle generously describe as the office of the future called “BusinessLand”, tropical lounge and bar “Paulberitaville” and beloved car Central Services Truthmobile, the 1997 Buick LeSabre Sadie, UCC Omega was easily the most narratively varied and gameplay-dense event we have ever put on. Each location touched on different corners of the LUX Universe that we had spent most of 3 years building and refining, with enough content for both the LUX Lore Veterans (looking at you, OldN0Eyes) and and fresh faces to enjoy.
This event, without a doubt, was easily our best. The tech worked (or when it didn’t it was on purpose), the scenes moved seamlessly, nobody waited in line, the games were understandable, accessible, and fun, and every part of the world was represented without stealing all the focus. People, from returning audience to newbies, were immersed in our world. While a lot of the reason everything worked so well can be laid at the feet of having full space control, or more prep time for design and build, or our excellent (as always) cast and crew, the biggest difference came from experience and hard-won knowhow.
This was Future Proof at full power, a fully operational battle station of crazy bullshit firing on all cylinders, with a few other metaphors and idioms mixed in there for good measure. This was what we were capable of, and what we were ready to keep unleashing on the world in a continuing litany of live, in person, closely-packed, coughing-distance events. 2020, we were sure, was going to be our year!
The next thing we made was a video game.
For more information on UCC check out our glowing review from nopro.
by Scott Bullock
With the 2018 season wrapped up and everyone back from their respective holidays, Future Proof was well rested and ready to launch what we had been working on in tandem with everything else throughout all of 2018: The UVX Featuring the Most Dangerous Man.
Coming out of the UVX Featuring Holme at the end of 2017, we knew we would be doing another UVX, and one in many ways more ambitious than the first, but that we would need plenty of time to do it right. There were two major improvements we planned to make over the 2017 UVX formula:
In 2017, we made Holme to be a baseline shitty movie that nobody would mind being totally ruined by the addition of insane and disruptive elements, or being totally restarted, skipped around in, and talked over. However, this led to large stretches of the film being actually painful to watch, since it was made on a half-shoestring budget with an intentionally terrible script. We decided to make the next movie, The Most Dangerous Man, in tandem with the design of the live show and eminently more watchable. This would be a Fun Bad Movie, not just a Bad Bad Movie.
The live show of 2017 made a certain amount of sense, but lacked a coherent through line or plot, being almost entirely spectacle with implied dystopic elements. With the live show this time around, we wanted to focus more on telling a story with a beginning, middle, and end that would run alongside the movie.
So out the gate we were putting a lot more thought into how the UVX would work as a whole instead of building a bunch of different elements and putting them together. After some theory-crafting, brainstorming, and late-night coffee-fueled jam sessions, we settled on making a show about the war for a hack director’s soul between the LUX’s corporatism and the Buddy Resistance’s rebellious passion. That director would be Ronnie Champaign, a washed up Big Hollywood wannabe wielding a script for his masterpiece, a cold war-era shlocky action movie called “The Most Dangerous Man”.
As the show entered initial design, we decided that rather than surface-level changes to the film like most of the votable options in 2017 (adding objects to scenes, all the actors get roller skates, etc) we would replicate what we all agreed was the best of the 2017 votes, a total genre shift from kitchen sink drama to Sci-Fi space opera. The Most Dangerous Man would feature total genre overhauls influenced by audience votes, swapping from a straightforward 80s action movie to being a western, a fantasy, a sports film, and a half dozen other major tonal reworks.
As that show work was being done, Jack Holmes was hard at work pumping out draft after draft of The Most Dangerous Man’s core script. The end result was a fantastically stupid time capsule constructed wholesale from cheesy one-liners, b-movie tropes, and a gratuitous helping of Reagan-era misplaced patriotism. When asked how he produced such a piece of idiot-art, Mr. Holmes said, "I just thought 'What if I had an IQ of 70 and wanted to write a Metal Gear fan fiction?'"
With a general show design complete and a script finished, a final book was put together compiling all of the props, scenes, actors, and crew would be necessary to shoot the film. It was at this point that we first brought on the inimitable Casey Schlosser as the director of The Most Dangerous Man (hereafter, MDM) and started casting, which is where we ran into something of a snag.
We had been planning on the production levels of this movie being fairly low, being a LUX production and all, but soon after posting our casting calls we were contacted the great Logan Paul, who believed (correctly) that he would be perfect for the lead role of Max Gunn. With a guy like Mr. Paul with a real action hero wanting to work with us, we had to come to terms with 2 things immediately: we would be casting him as Max Gunn, and that meant that we would need to raise production values and casting expectations to support that casting. It was a problem, but it was a good problem to have.
I will spare you the odyssey that is The Legend of The Most Dangerous Film Production, which should be a 20 part series on its own, but suffice it to say we lost our minds and gained a movie. Well, several movies. That all had to be cut to the same length. Aaaaand had multiple break points built in throughout. Aaaaaand needed to modularly slot into each other, exported in chunks so they could be hot-swapped mid show, and eventually all collapse into each other for several dozen versions of the ending.
So during the course of 2018, while designing, building, and hosting large interconnected immersive events, stringing together a half-dozen plot threads through over 50 websites, social media accounts, and emails spanning a score of characters (and producing video and audio assets to support those digital plot threads), we were ALSO filming and producing a multi-headed hydra of a feature-length motion picture.
And come March 2019, it was ready to be shown.
The script was written (and rewritten, and rewritten, and rewritten…), the props were built, the actors rehearsed, and the opening musical number practiced. Tear-away suits were tailored, Giant Lasers calibrated, game show lecterns painted, and an EGOT+ Award Frankenstein’d together. A pre-show lobby, the Ultimate Queueing Experience, featuring Calibration Nozzles, a fake jungle, cardboard standees of the cast, and a fully stocked merch shop, was arranged.
All in all, it went… well, it went.
If our 2019 Ultimate Viewing Experience had one major problem, it was the tech. Not the lighting or the sound or any of the things traditionally associated with theater tech, but rather the computers and programming required to make a lot of our games, votable backends, and user front ends work together seamlessly, and the UVX Featuring the Most Dangerous Man was a culmination of those issues. Problems with formats made for last-minute late-nights re-exporting of the entire film package. Software hiccups caused the movie to stutter, desync from the sound, or event totally crash and require hard reboot mid-show. Some phones didn’t want to connect to our voting mainframe, and the connection process was too complex for some audience members. Wifi outages could kill the voting functionality entirely, leaving the audience unable to interact with the show at all.
I could name any number of very good reasons for our tech problems, but no number of excuses, no matter how reasonable or understandable, are going to undo the fact that the 2019 UVX simply did not go well. It was a show about a movie where the movie worked like, 60% of the time.
Still, there was plenty to salvage from the experience. Ronnie Champaign was an amazing character who we would go on to utilize throughout 2019, the plot developments that occurred during the show were still canon to our universe, and we still had a whole-ass movie we could use however we want (like hell we were going to leave that movie floundering unseen outside those three shows: The Most Dangerous Man will return, rising like the phoenix!).
Further, now that we had time to take a breath and look at the full scope of what we had done over the course of the previous year, we could adjust our company and how we prioritized certain parts of production, and actually sit down and develop pipeline, workflow, and administrative documentation and standards. In short: we could now take all the lessons we had learned the hard way and create standards and practices not to fix those problems when they arose, but to prevent the most glaring issues we encountered from ever rearing their heads in future projects in the first place.
Never in my life have I been so happy to create system flow tables and project templates. For a year straight we had been saying ‘if only we had thought of x before!’ or ‘damn, if only we had considered y during design’ in the middle of un-fucking some problem that had blindsided us a week before showtime, and at long last we had the time and space to apply our hard-earned institutional knowledge to build a strong framework for everything we would do going forward.
And once that work was done, we could start on what would end up the Ultimate Cinema Convention - UCC Omega.
by Shelby Reilly
Our inventory system has gone through many lives and many locations. Over the years the inventory has started to eat items that were never meant to enter into the inventory system, these are their stories.
1. Sticks - 2
Unfortunately, these are not even two sticks. It’s thin pvc pipe and a broom handle taped together, labeled and entered into our system.
2. Scott’s Missing C Key from His Old Keyboard
Scott replaced his keyboard, thinking the C was gone forever. But lo and behold. There it was…eaten by inventory only to be discovered roughly a year and a half later.
3. Ping Pong Ball
A singular dented ping pong ball.
4. Rose’s Personal Record Collection
No clue how this one happened. She has some hits in there.
5. 400 Toothpicks
Someone categorized our old bar inventory from UCC Omega and COUNTED EVERY SINGLE TOOTHPICK.
by Scott Bullock
As we approached the end of our 2018 season, we knew we had to go out with a bang to cap things off. Throughout the season, an omnipresent thread had been the LUX Cube, a piece of tech that everyone wanted and that had to be dealt with. What better way to deal with a piece of tech narratively than have a big dumb hacking sequence? There is no better way, and so we decided that our final event of the season would basically be one long big dumb hacking sequence.
So the Cyberpunk Hacker faction of the LUX Universe, the Buddy Resistance, teamed up with everyone they could and summoned the ‘best hackers in the state’ to an underground cyberpunk hackathon, and we had our excuse to hang a giant chandelier made out of computer monitors from the roof.
We pulled out the stops and tried to hit every 80s cyberpunk and 90s hacker movie trope all at once. We had a VR ‘enter the Grid’ chair complete with Matrix Operator and Hacking Glove, Laser Tag Robot Uprising Training Sim, old computers hooked up to a website riddled with exploits to take advantage of, and a PS1 running Madden 2000. One of the most popular elements of the event was the first thing to greet you when you came through the door: LUX has ears everywhere, so to maintain operational security, every attendee needed to generate a hacker name that characters would refer to them as by picking two halves of nametags out of hats, a mechanic that would be brought back in the next year’s UCC14.
The event revolved around a team-up between the Resistance Hackers and the IT-themed Troubleshooters, with each trying to gain access to the internals of the cube by their own methods. The Audience could participate in the event and play with the installs and games in order to earn ‘H.A.C.K.s’, codes that could be turned in to either side to improve their position and earn fabulous prizes like sticky hands, glowsticks, and posters. A live-updating scoreboard showed which side had more HACKs throughout the night, and the night’s finale was determined by which side had earned more of them.
People drank, danced, Hacked, and made merry. The event featured strategic deployment of piñatas and the “synthwave//chiptune//vaporwave//darksynth” DJ Faith in the Glitch. When the event wrapped, the Resistance deployed their accumulated HACKS to brute-force the Cube and capture a giant cache of classified LUX secrets before retreating into their underground hideout. The Cube was fried, LUX was on its way to shut them down, and it was time for Future Proof to enter energy-saving mode while people trickled out for the holidays.
While it was by no means perfect (there were some issues with lines forming, limited character interaction, and an admittedly convoluted core mechanic), but it was a fitting send-off for the year and for the year’s primary McGuffin.
Along with some online wrap-ups and “to be continued”s, we had finished the 2018 season. Even as we settled into our various December celebrations, we were collating the many lessons learned, determining what worked best, and beginning to plot the year to come.
by Scott Bullock
The Trial of Usher Randall was a digital-only event that ran for a week hosted on Facebook. It was a collective choose your own adventure story that made compounding changes to a spoof courtroom trial run by LUX with the goal of proving or disproving the guilt of one Randall Scott Thompson in a charge of destruction of property for the ‘murder’ of a LUX-owned robot.
LUX streamed the proceedings ‘live’ with interviews, man on the street segments, and all the infotainment trappings of a network newscast. Meanwhile, witnesses were called, evidence presented, and examinations crossed while the rules of the courtroom were continuously updated to include clowns, puppets, and musical numbers. Each day of the trial, a new rule was added and a an online poll released to determine the next day’s rules. As is tradition for something like this, things quickly escalated out of control into a wild final day, culminating with a resounding guilty verdict, incarcerating Usher Randall in a LUX training center.
Results were mixed. We made a lot of content that, due to the choose your own adventure aspect of the event, never ended up seeing the light of day. In fact, because of the way things compounded, we made far more content that didn’t get seen than did, which just didn’t feel great. Further, due to the time-sensitive side of the thing and the fleeting nature of streamed content, once the event was over a fair amount of what did get released got swept under the algorithmic rug and fell out of sight. That, too, did not feel great, but taught us some important lessons about over-dedicating resources to short shelf-life digital events with no plan to be able to reuse the assets and about the ways streaming content should and should not be utilized.
With the lingering fallout of A Death Well Died wrapped up and Usher Randall shipped off to an undisclosed (but very FUN, we are assured) location, we could move forward to the final event of the 2018 season, where the Resistance faction would finally take center stage.
by Scott Bullock
Ode to a Buick
A car there was
all beat to shit
and vaguely tan
and the perfect fit
A madman purchased
in world and out
a functioning car
from which to shout
insanity and sport some signs
about evil fungus
and the near end times
She only breaks
when time permits
she waits till you’ve finished
your long road trips
Her only flaw
and only weakness
is a love of boots
and parking tickets
From South to North
the company car
through snow and rain
she still goes far
Sadie, dear Sadie
it is the minimum
I can do, to say sorry
for all the aluminum
and plastic that covers
your entire insides
and the squadron of dipshits
that you’ve given rides
But you have given
as good as you got
in auto repair bills
and maintenance costs
but we’d never replace you
you’ve got it made
plus now you have a space
to park unafraid
It’s now been 5 years
and partway through another
since on your tape deck
we first blasted turbo lover
you have survived
and I look forward
to the next 25
That’s all I wanted to say
and all you needed to hear
except one more thing:
DISBELIEVE DISCONNECT DISAPPEAR
by Scott Bullock
With the completion of Please Party, Thank You, we began work on our next event: a send-up of murder mystery dinner theater and exploration of the life and death of a character central to the background of the LUX Universe, Paulbert Filius Pontifex III, Esq. As the creator of LUXos and last human head of LUX before his untimely demise, Paulbert’s history, foibles, and personality have always had an outsized impact on our content, and this event leaned into that heavily.
The core conceit was that after years of denying that Paulbert was dead, LUX was finally ready to admit he was no longer around when it found his Last Will and Testament buried somewhere in an old warehouse. A significant part of the will centered around demands for Paulbert’s funeral and instructions on how to dispose of his estate. and LUXos dutifully carried out both to the best of of its abilities.
A Death Well Died was thus intended to be a celebration of Paulbert’s life, with all of his friends, acquaintances, and enemies in attendance. Since a massive pile of LUX stuff was up for grabs, the Usual Suspects of Cyberpunks, Cultists, and Conspiracy Theorists lied their way in.
Of course everything immediately went wrong when the will reading was rudely interrupted by the murder of the robot reading it, and Detective Ace McGruff arrived on the scene to find the culprit. With the event thrown into disarray one of Paulbert’s many contingency plans activated, prompting the initiation of the Last Will and Tournament. This Da Vinci Code-styled competition asked the audience to solve the many puzzles hidden within his displayed belongings to decide who was going to receive his estate and solve the mystery of who stabbed the robot.
Unlike our previous event, A Death Well Died was heavily information focused. Finding clues, solving puzzles, and wheedling answers out of characters were the primary means of progressing through the night. Photo albums with hidden numbers that could be put together into a phone number which, if called, gave you a passphrase, 8 hand-written journals hiding a message that could only be unlocked via cipher, a flight itinerary and annotated map that spelled out a secret message, and a singing fish that witnessed the murder and spoke only in limerick were just some of the elements standing between the audience and total completion.
At the end of the night, the results were announced. The Conspiracy Theorists won the night and made off with the LUX estate (which they promptly burned), and the head of the cult was accused and arrested, hauled off by robots. The status quo shifted again, and everyone went home stuffed to the brim with champagne and canapes.
People had a good time, but we discovered quickly upon debrief that of the 5 major puzzle chains, few people managed to solve more than a single one, and many never even managed that. Bottlenecking at specific props, traffic flow through the venue, puzzle difficulty and accessibility, and the distractions amply provided by the rest of the event made making progress a challenge, and that’s before factoring in the champagne.
We took this to heart in our future events. While we would return to some puzzle elements, they would by and large not require interacting with a specific prop or location for a significant amount of time, and their difficulty would be judged more realistically. In addition, we committed to additional testing for any element that might demand an intuitive leap or application of problem solving.
But we were left with a lingering question: What happened to the cult leader that LUX hauled away for the destruction of their PR robot in what could only be called an extra-judicial kidnapping? We would find the answer a month later, in the Trial of Usher Randall.
by Scott Bullock
Cubico - 2.5/5
An off-brand WeWork in Manhattan. Featured all the amenities of a particularly cramped, yuppie-infested, glass-walled sardine can. At one point the ‘headquarters’ of our company was an 8 by 4 box mostly used for storage of meter-boards and free pens. Considering we needed a slight bit more room than that, we decided to
invade become squatters make full use of the shared rooftop lounge. Bonus points for putting up with us as long as they did and all the free coffee we could guzzle. Downsides included having to share a space with people who were not amused by the travails of automated 50 dollar selfie drones having conniptions when let loose in a glass hallway.
It served us decently for the time, but we quickly realized we needed a real office.
35 Meadow - 4/5
An ex-tattoo parlor once either owned or simply named in honor of (it was never really clear) a porn star was, as it turns out, the perfect new home for Future Proof. The whole inside was painted purple, it had a chintzy chandelier, and the tattoo stalls made for great office dividers. Most importantly, it had a giant skull painted on the outside wall, thus earning the moniker Skull Island for a time.
It was home for a long time, but even with far more available space than the TinyBox+ we had just escaped, it was still difficult to cram an entire production company into what was effectively a single room with desks, a couch, and the most hilariously cramped shop space you have every seen. This was also when we really started acquiring a sizeable inventory, and with space already at a premium, we realized we needed to open some more branches.
HQ2 - 3/5
The HQ2 Era was something of a mixed bag. Future Proof became larger and more distributed, now occupying Skull Island, 4 storage units scattered throughout Brooklyn Uhauls, and a new rented office space shared with another company lovingly named after Bezos’ threatened Amazon expansion. While it was nice for say, the writers being able to have a meeting about their goofy robot shit without eating sawdust from show production or for us to madly hold on to every prop we ever touched, it did have the side effect of turning every endeavor into a logistical nightmare of keycards and box trucks and return times.
Bonus points for its name being an effective time capsule. Demerits because hell is a Uhaul in Greenpoint that closes in a half hour and whose loading bay is inexplicably blocked.
90 Waterbury - Pickles
Not an official office, but more of an expansion upon the HQ2 Saga. While looking around for a venue for an event, we found one right down the street. Through a series of ups, downs, chills thrills and spills, we ended up
invading dumping our stuff renting it for an extended period. We did a show there, and when that was done we kept a bunch of inventory there, and we even shot a whole-ass REDACTED BY ORDER OF THE ANTI-SPOILER BRIGADE there. It was a great space.
There was only one problem: it’s right next to a pickle factory and every day in there you have to swim through the overpowering scent of pickles.
It does not matter if you like pickles. It does not matter how much anti-pickle technology you employ. It does not matter if you are stuffed up. It does not matter if you smoke. You could not escape the pickle. Your only option, if you wanted to remain sane, was embrace the pickle. Become one with the pickle. Lean into the pickle as an aesthetic choice.
Suffice it to say, we have a thing about pickles now.
333 Stagg - 10/5
We have our own warehouse with a rad second floor and Super Cool Patio and a real shop downstairs and all of our inventory in one place and total control over our venue and we’re doin a show wheeeeee!
by Scott Bullock
Please Party, Thank You was our first live show after our prototype Ultimate Viewing eXperience Featuring Holme. It opened after 7 months of re-tooling, planning, and hiring to become a Real Company with Plans for the Future. A fully-immersive bachelor party thrown by an out-of-touch computer for a confused Average Joe and long-suffering NY Jets fan, the development and deployment of PPTY was exhausting, nerve-wracking, and ultimately a great and satisfying success.
The recently-named Future Proof needed people, space, and a plan of action. Following a hiring-spree (including promotion of yours truly (Scott) from itinerant contractor to Full Time Employee) and the acquisition of a tattoo parlor in Bushwick, a plan was concocted spanning the next several months. After that plan was smashed and rebuilt a few times (pour one out for the Cheese Platter Jazz Seminars that could have been) what remained demanded the narrative begin with a gas station attendant and Jets-themed YouTube commentator named Bruce Warford to obtain a Cube full of LUX super-science that fell from the sky.
Suddenly Bruce became the center of a vortex of weird characters and LUX shenanigans. Private Detective Ace McGruff, Cypher Rage and Zag of the Buddy Resistance, Usher Randall of the 8th Row Group for Emotional Uplifting, and LUX alum Dr. Kiet Aksorpan all jockeyed for his attention and support, all demanding he give them the Cube, an object of great power and mystery whose mystery was only exceeded by its power.
Enter LUX, who decided that the best way to get Bruce’s support was to throw his bachelor party for him and invite all his friends. Conveniently, all of Bruce’s friends happened to be the people who bought tickets to the event.
We designed the event, basically, as a live-action video game complete with opening cut-scene, non-player characters, and quests that culminated in a narrative pivot-point: which faction would get the McGuffin? The answer was going to impact the rest of the year’s narrative, so we were even more interested in finding out than the audience was.
Leading up to the opening we were nervous. As individuals we had had experience with films, with theater, and with online content, all the parts that went into the 2017 UVX, but this was something we hadn’t really done: immersive nightlife gameplay. There was an undercurrent of worry over whether we could make this thing, whether anyone would like it, and if we were all insane for thinking we could do this.
Sleep was lost. Props were built. Coffee was brewed. Scripts were written, actors cast, and rehearsals held. VenueSearch18 nabbed us location in Long Island City. We had a single day to move our shit in, run a show, and move our shit out, which we (more or less) accomplished.
And people had a great time.
People learned to make their own tin foil hats and swore their allegiance to the Unperson Army from the inside of a beat up Buick. People colored over Giants memorabilia with green sharpies and learned how to properly cheer on the Jets. The audience met undercover Resistance members, made secret contact with IT, and watched movies with a computer cultist, all accompanied by an indoor beach, slot cars, a photo booth, drinks, and live music.
At the end of the night the 8th Row cult won out, aided by their representative (and fan-favorite character) Usher Bill and the LUX Cube found its way to their weirdly worshipful hands.
We came out the other side exhausted, but excited. People liked our thing. People came to our show, participated in our content, and left entertained. Further, phase 1 of our narrative for the year was complete, and the gears began to turn for the next event, coming only 2 months later.
by Scott Bullock
So for a while the FP offices were haunted by an annoying Irish middle schooler in sunglasses, and might still be.
Allow me to explain:
So there was this YA book series called Artemis Fowl about a precocious child genius moonlighting as a criminal mastermind and stealing a bunch of gold from the Fairies, who decided to send a giant magical SWAT team to his house to get it back. To paraphrase the author, it was Die Hard with Fairies and Hanz Gruber is the protagonist and also a kid. Jump forward 20 years and they made a movie based on it.
This movie was awful. This movie was every book-to-movie adaptation sin in a blender. Bad casting, disregard of the source material, edited to death in post, and obviously cobbled together from a script that languished in development hell for two decades. Worst of all, it was fucking boring.
And perhaps most indicative of the problems with the movie was the eponymous Criminal Mastermind. I’m sure the actor they got to play him is a nice kid. I bet he helps old ladies across the street and always remembers to brush his teeth before bed. What I know he does not do is act, and his performance is in no way helped by a script that forgot to make him a) a criminal, b) a mastermind or c) entertaining in any way. Generally speaking, this child, through I am sure no fault of his own, became a lightning rod for my overzealous nerd-rage.
Yes, I was a fan of the books as a kid, how did you know?
So anyway, I made the mistake of telling our Producer Alex Chmaj about this. I ranted. I raved. I spent probably 30 minutes working myself into an indignant lather, and when I was done I felt purged of my hate, shiny and new and free of my troubles.
Then my self-imposed lockdown exile to the west coast ended, and I came back to the office.
And there he was.
His smug faux coolness poured unhaltingly from him. His stupid be-sunglassed gaze washed over me, and I was filled with the sudden urge to beat up an 11 year old, or at least mercilessly bully him. From across the room, Chmaj uttered in a bad Irish accent: “Arrrrrrr, I’m a criminal mastermind!”
And for the next several months, Artemis joined the Future Proof family. He would move around the office, appearing where you least expected him. Open a closet and BOOM!
You’d been Artemis’d.
Check for something behind a couch and WHAM!
And sometimes, late at night, you’d be working hard on whatever the hell weird shit we’re up to at that point, and you’d stand to get a drink, and there reflected in the darkened glass of the door:
At some point, he disappeared. Some say he was accidentally thrown away by an unwitting contractor. Others believe he was destroyed, done away with by someone who was finally sick of his bullshit. But I think something else happened: I think he has hidden himself, biding his time. Like a true Criminal Mastermind, he has decided to lay low and wait for the optimal moment to unleash his devilish plot.
God I hate that little puke.
(Also anyway if you want to read a more formal review of how bad this movie is Elvie also wrote one here.)
by Scott Bullock
Film, Immersive Theater, and a digital Alternate Reality Game. These were the ingredients used to create the perfect transmedia experience. But Professor Utonium accidentally added an extra ingredient to the concoction: CHEMICAL LUX.
Back in the elden times of the year of our lord two thousand and seventeen, a number of people and elements coalesced which inextricably and inevitably led to the purchase of a 1997 Buick LeSabre, the throwing of at least 500 paper airplanes inside a movie theater, and Pelicans. The initial idea was simple: A defunct entertainment company run by an AI wanted to screen a movie, but because the movie was bad it had to supplement the screening with super-fun live elements overseen by a robotic used car salesman and conducted by employees who accidentally signed their whole lives over to an evil corporation. This would be supported by a pseudo-viral culture-jamming ARG making fun of lizard people, alien invasion, fake moon-landing conspiracy theorists.
Okay so maybe “simple” isn’t the right word. Whatever the case, it became quickly apparent that our willingness to commit to a bit was rivaled only by our ability to weaponize film-making and entertainment sins for fun and profit a in a whirlwind project described at one point as “strategically organized Jenga tower.”
The big event of 2017 was the first rendition of a concept we have come back to many times since: An audience-votable blend of movie screening and live theater called the Ultimate Viewing Experience, or UVX. Everything we did that year was in service of hyping, justifying, or selling tickets to the UVX. We ran a mini-even called UCC12, where we invited real indie filmmakers to talk about their real indie films, followed by a presentation of our Real Fake Indie Film Holme -which LUX immediately purchased in real time. We appeared at New York Comic Con with our scary robots and bellhop-esque employees, and even hosted an Epic Rap Battles of History event (our show was way better than the Power Rangers one that followed).
At all of these, a weird man in a trench coat would show up halfway through yelling at the audience about how Luxury Universal Experience was actually an evil alien-worshiping cult and that the only way to free your mind was to go to the web address printed on the handfuls of napkins he would throw into the air before escaping. Several times, security apologized for letting a deranged individual interrupt our shows, and an equal number of times were flabbergasted when we told them that he was part of our show.
Honestly, Flabbergasted was a pretty common reaction to that part of the budding Future Proof experience. Bewildered would also be accurate. It’s the appropriate reaction to being told that an alien fungus from the oort cloud was here on earth and using a movie company to try and brainwash the masses. It’s even more appropriate when being told that the only way to prevent fungal infection is the ingestion of massive quantities of Natural Ice beer.
Meatspace was only part of our show, with a large amount of content deployed online or otherwise digitally. The LUX website featured a rat’s nest of redacted information about the shady past of the company, leading to a phone line most reminiscent of a circuitous text adventure game. LUX’s online presence was simultaneously unsettling and insistent, bothering people on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and a few other platforms. As an amoral 80s AI running an unscrupulous 80s company, engaging in the basest and most obnoxious forms of marketing and engagement was part of the show and character and we dove in with gusto.
Simultaneously, the in-world conspiracy theorists created their own website compiling their grand unified theory of crazy bullshit that boiled down to “we need to annoy LUX and people who support it”, engaging in their own social media campaigns, real-world operations, and the delivery of hand-typed manifestos to 50 papers-of-note around New York. After a final attempt to stop the UVX and ‘save the internet’ (consisting of driving around New York in their 1997 Buick LeSabre (lovingly named ‘Sadie’) running ethernet cabling between payphones while streaming their hacking attempt over twitch) failed, the big day arrived.
Opening on Friday, October 13th and running to the 5th of November, “Luxury Universal Experience Presents Holme: A Tragedy in Six Acts by Jean Luc Depardeau Presented in UVX Format, brought to you by LUX” sure was a show. Holme was an intentionally awful film cobbled together from every terrible indie film sin and shot multiple times so that the audience could inject new elements at any point in its run time to try and “fix” it. Because these additional elements overlayed and crossed streams at multiple points, this meant that the film had to be shot, in full, 32 times. With the addition of elements digitally added in post, there were over 140 permutations of Holme. When asked for a quote, producer Alex Chmaj had this to say “I would like to formally apologize to my director, Matt Conrad.”
When pressed for something more substantive, he added that the shoot was “intensely, mind-numbingly grueling” but maintained that “pretty much everyone had a good time on that set.”
Special thanks to our long-suffering editor, Tim. 140 permutations is a lot of Holme.
The live portion of the show consisted of a number of scripted scenes, improv-heavy immersive segments, and deployable interactive props activated regularly throughout the course of the film. Centered around the failing attempts of the LUXos AI to run a successful and fun film screening and conspiracy theorists and cyberpunk rebel employees doing their best to stop it, the show was a tour de force of puns, pastiche, and sci-fi chicanery.
The true magic of the show lay in our proprietary voting mechanic. From their smartphones (or provided tablets), audience members could vote on changes they wanted made to both film and stage, with no two shows the same. Over the course of the show, audiences could subject the actors, the film, and themselves to increasingly ridiculous segments.
Make all the actors in the film wear roller-skates. Force the stage actors to do jumping jacks and run laps around the theater. Demand a break to make and throw paper airplanes. Turn the film into a space opera, complete with aliens. Lower a giant mustache over the screen. Over time, the film became entirely unwatchable, the show grew increasingly manic, and the AI completely broke, ending in a rousing Opera featuring every vote you’d made thus far and culminating in one of three major endings. With Mass Effect 3’s infamous ending still in our heads, these endings were color coded to Red, Green, and Blue.
When asked for comment on the live show, Director Christian Vernon judo-threw me and jumped out a window screaming “You’ll never take me alive!”
Finally, after over 30 shows, the time came to take a step back, take a big breath, and realize with dawning horror all that we had wrought upon this unprepared earth. Our first year was seat-of-our-pants, and beset on all sides by stumbles and outside-context problems. The show was not well attended, and reviews were mixed, but we were still proud of what we had accomplished and the show we had made. The list of hard lessons learned could fill 30 pages, but the most important thing we learned was that we wanted to do this again, and do it better. We decided that this would not be a one-off production, and that the team that had been put together should keep making stuff.
That in mind, we girded our loins and began to plan for 2018.