Things That Were Entered into Inventory That Should Not Have Been

Things That Were Entered into Inventory That Should Not Have Been

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.



Please Resist Thank You: PRTY

Please Resist Thank You: PRTY

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.

The Trial of Usher Randall

The Trial of Usher Randall

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.

Ode to a Buick

Ode to a Buick

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


Since 1997


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

A Death Well Died: ADWD

A Death Well Died: ADWD

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.

Location, Location, Location, Location, Location

Location, Location, Location, Location, Location

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!

https://www.broadwayworld.com/brooklyn/article/Transmedia-Company-Future-Proof-Partners-With-Immersive-Productions-to-Launch-New-Events-20220401

Please Party Thank You: PPTY

Please Party Thank You: PPTY

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.

The Little Bastard

The Little Bastard

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!


Artemis’d.


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.)

2017

2017

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.

Sorry, Tim.


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.