A Post-Mortem and Debrief (and teeny single-engine hype-train)
A big blob of text by Alex Chmaj, Co-Creator and Producer of Future Proof
Now that the dust has settled, and more unknowns are known, it’s high time I explained a bit about what happened, what’s going on, and where the Future of Future Proof is headed.
If I had all the time and resources in the world, I’d make this into a longform video for the sake of modern audience tastes. But alas, time is not on my side so buckle up folks, it’s time for more text than your phone can handle on one screen.
Is this a bit/marketing stunt/joke/fake?
No, this is very, very real.
Short answer: The Rent is Too Damn High.
Long answer: You really want to know? Well alrighty-then.
What’s the situation with your Staff/Cast/Crew?
Everybody has been laid-off as of August 4th. All severances and final payments have gone out, and for all intents and purposes I am the last Future Proof Employee. Everybody is doing alright, as far as things could be - we had an extremely skilled group of entertainment veterans working here from all across the landscape of modern media, so some are finding it easier to find work in their chosen field than others. We’re all as ok as can be in this crazy world, and we all hope to or are already planning to work together on other projects in the future.
When is BusinessRealm opening?
Short answer: Not anytime soon.
Longer answer: BusinessRealm represented six years of experience in this field put into practice. All the lessons we learned from other ways of doing live shows, and some new ideas to keep things fresh and exciting. To just throw it out would be a waste of some really neat ideas.
Some of the pieces of BusinessRealm, such as Banker Boxes and plastic crickets - can be easily acquired at any point in the future. Other parts - such as the sourced office furniture converted into alternate-timeline all-in-one computer stations - are not as easy to reproduce. Depending on the size and cost of storage, we’re planning on saving as much ‘unique’ stuff from BusinessRealm as we can. The scripts are all backed up, and our now-former cast would jump at the opportunity to do the show if given the chance.
One day, with time, money, space, and the powers-that-be willing, we will take another stab at launching BusinessRealm.
What about Doors of Diverence and The Art of Killin’ It? Those are two Future Proof shows right?
We get this a lot, and it’s understandable. To clarify, we do not own either of these shows. We did not make either of these shows. We hosted partner productions in our big building. We did help them with funding, provide resources for setup, and ran operational support for Front of House/building maintenance, but they are very much their own shows created, operated, and owned by lovely people.
Doors of Divergence is officially closed as of October 29th. The Art of Killin’ it closed last month, and is doing a final closing party on November 5th.
As of this writing, things are still very much in flux with both of them. If you’d like to know what they’re doing or where they’re headed, the best place to go is their respective Instagram accounts, as we all avoid Elon Musk Presents: X, the artist formerly known as Twitter like the plague.
What’s going on with……
Is the Company shutting down or what?
In the aftermath of August/September, I can proudly report that we have managed to avoid filing for Bankruptcy and have properly secured all of our Intellectual Property and documentation.
We were unable to find a new owner for the building, but managed to cut a deal with our Landlord to vacate the premises by November 15th, 2023. This has given us enough runway to properly shut down and pack everything up. There is no way in hell that we can afford another space to try and maintain an Immersive headquarters right now, let alone properly staff it.
The current gameplan is to get out of the building, put all the unique stuff in storage, cry for a few months, and then start things up again small and digital-only until we either make all the money necessary to try again, or there is a significant drop in rental rates in New York. We have no interest in relocating to another city, state, or country.
Future Proof HQ will be gone as of November 15th. I’ve been packing up our lovely traveling carnival since August, and we’re doing a full load-out in November. If you’re interested in the space, you can find it on Loopnet. You will note that pictures were taken basically the day after the shutdown announcement, as well as some random photos from another listing that have nothing to do with our space. Chances are these photos will update on November 16th.
All your stuff?
There are essentially three piles of things we have, each with their own futures:
Pile 1: Intellectual Property & Legacy items
This pile includes all of our custom builds, LUX-significant items, hard drives, puppets, mutant costumes, etc. Stuff we made that is either integral to LUX canon, or just plain cool and unique. This pile also includes a massive horde of esoteric technology that is now considered ‘vintage’ by the cool kids: CRT monitors, radio televisions, poly-synths, VCR players, and much much more unobtainable stuff. None of this is being thrown out.
We’re going to store all of it for as long as we can afford, and there are several projects that we can still pursue utilizing various parts.
Pile 2: Liquid assets
These are things that have significant monetary value, but can easily be acquired again at-cost. This includes various mixing consoles, power tools, stage equipment, G&E, you name it. Many people have voiced interest through various channels. I can’t run a bastardized radio shack right now, so instead there’s going to be a big Yard Sale event open to the public on a first-come, first-serve basis in the very near future. Stay tuned for details.
All proceeds from the sale of these items keeps the storage unit open, and goes into a treasury for future projects, as well as paying for labor and logistics to help with the load-out.
Pile 3: Stuff that really is worthless.
Some things may look worthless, but are not. Take our cardboard cutouts of ocean waves - I have many uses for things like that. Other things, such as raw scrap wood, are really of little to no monetary value. We have many things like that that are useful at some point, but not valuable enough to sell (see, the over 100 2-5a DC adaptors we’ve amassed over the year). We HATE creating or contributing to waste, especially with things that have copper in them.
As much as can be given away during Operation: Yard Sale will be given away. Next wave will be donated to various organizations that take this kind of stuff. Then we stop by a few recycling/upcycling places in gowanus that will properly take care of it. Then we discreetly travel around various curbs in the greater NYC area. Then we ask one more time if anybody wants the stuff. THEN we throw things out.
Waste not, want not.
The LUX universe is one we’ve all basically lived in for the last six years. While it never quite got the following it deserves, I still think the universe is unique, funny, engaging, and ultimately has legs in some form or another. Future Proof will definitely release LUX content in the future, albeit in a smaller and more conservative form.
All your projects you were working on?
Hooboy, this one’s rough, but worth going down the line - we always have so many things in process....
This badboy’s getting some desperately needed content updates, including a proper index of LUX-universe narrative and characters. It is long-overdue, and high-time this got done. Stay tuned.
luxuryuniversalexperience.com and all subsidiaries
Site hosting is blessedly-cheap. All our internet stuff is going to stay up until otherwise noted.
Still a good game! It’s on steam, and a delight. We’ve sold quite a few copies, believe it or not. Way more than any of us ever thought it would. If it makes $10,000 in sales (aka ‘god tier indie game’), I will take that money and spend it on expansions to the game that we simply couldn’t afford the time to program. Trust me, the wishlist for PSweet is LONG. If people show interest, we’ll meet you halfway.
LUX is a company that makes the UVX, but due to the disastrous experience of the second UVX show - The Most Dangerous Man (a venue experience which was in itself the catalyst for finding our own space and never having to deal with venues again)- we spent 2019 on a project we haven’t talked a whole bunch about: UVX…OnLine. We developed, designed, shot and built a fully-voteable interactive version of our original Live Show, complete with The Most Dangerous Man(!?)
The footage is all edited and backed up, but we were mid-port over to OBS when this all went down. It’s too much good stuff to let go to waste. It’ll live again one day, but it’ll be a long time before you hear about it again.
LUX LIVE! The Confluence of Class And Cinema
It’s going to go to bed for a bit. It’ll be back with more programming once I have a better computer setup at home.
Our lovely BTS team created a whole series for Doors of Divergence, as well as Future Proof’s buildout of BusinessRealm. There is another season and a half of Doors of Divergence that has not been released but is finished, as well as the entire rehearsal process for BusinessRealm (essentially everything up to shutdown day).
These series are bizarre for sure (wouldn’t have it any other way to be honest), but ultimately excellent primary source chronicles of something that doesn’t get a lot of love - the production process for Theater with an unflinching, unblinking documentary eye.
The rest of these episodes will go up by the end of the year, for sure. Once again, I just need to get out of the building, and then can roll these out.
Our BTS team also made a limited-run editorial series called ‘Resolved,’ which breaks down their workflow and process - a series of weblog content that is indispensable for people making behind-the-scenes content on a budget. I’m going to look at a happy place and time to publish this stuff next year.
You know nothing. You saw nothing. Shhhhhhhhhhhh. TBD.
Social Media? You going to kill it already?
Nah. I know we’re not good at the social media game, but hear me out!
The landscape has morphed a ton since we started in 2017. All the major players are either dead or dying, and things are getting both hellish and - on an upbeat note - more decentralized, which we’re all big fans of.
- We will keep using Instagram, as that’s where you all like to hang out, and pictures are fun. At least until Zuckerberg finally kills it for good.
- Will will keep our Facebook page up. Google loves a company Facebook page. I have absolutely no interest in generating Facebook content.
- We made a FacebookTwitter (Threads?). I plan to keep it just to avoid brand nonsense.
- Tiktok is fun. There will be occasional Tiktoks.
- I miss Vine.
- The Pinterest will stay up, and the Tumblr as well. I simply don’t have enough hours in the day to maintain or have a presence on them, but Tumblr is always a riot.
- We have a discord. It needs to be cleaned up before being fully-public. In the future, this will be the best place to check in and follow-up outside of our website or mailing list.
- Bluesky, Mastodon, Linkedin, Dropbox, etc. (aka ANYTHING ELSE????) We’re going to wait until things cool down before deciding to throw Future Proof’s hat into that stuff.
- We will not be participating in Elon Musk Presents: X, the artist Formerly Known as Twitter under any circumstances.
So what do you have money or what?
We have spent just about every penny left in the treasury on severances, EOY benefits, and employment taxes. We’re fortunate in an odd way for having no loans (PPP or otherwise) to oblige; this, coupled with the exit deal we cut with our Landlord, has allowed us to avoid filing for bankruptcy - a very real situation that was a 50/50 shot until this month. This means that Future Proof can continue to exist and plot future moves, albeit nothing grand and extravagant.
The last remaining cost is our exit strategy, which with sale of equipment we no longer need should cover the costs of labor and a storage unit. We may be far past the point of saving as a building, but we can afford to go into stasis until the stars align for our reemergence in the future.
What is the Future of Future Proof
I’m glad you asked! As mentioned elsewhere, the rest of this year is all about getting things wound-down and taking stock. Once the dust has settled on this move-out, and all of our rare finds and gadgets are tucked away safe and sound, there are several projects and activities that will keep us alive in your hearts and minds. Below is a basic roadmap of what Future Proof will be up to in the - erm- future:
While Future Proof may not be 110% dead, our dreams of maintaining an immersive HQ are definitely on hold for quite a while, if not forever. It is only fitting that a digital monument to the tireless efforts of everybody in this building - be they Future Proof, The Art of Killin’ It, or Doors of Divergence - be recognized. Expect this to go up post-November 15th.
Future of Mailing List
As social media becomes more and more decentralized in the 2020’s, one of the tried-and-true methods of communication has been seeing a resurgence: the newsletter.
We set one up, and had big plans for it, and those plans will continue in a more limited format. Originally we had planned for a bi-weekly output, and for now as a one-person operation they will most likely be downgraded to monthly if not quarterly.
However, I would still like to keep this launch in the lineup, not just as a more formalized way for you to check in with us, but also for us to toot horns and fanfare for other productions, creators, and ideas in the sphere we have and will continue to operate in. If you’re not already signed up, please consider doing so!
Future of Social Media
As Previously mentioned, no plans exist to take these badboys down. I’ll still post updates to Instagram from time to time, as that’s where you all tend to congregate the most, but outside of that there’s going to be little if any activity on the “Big Name” platforms.
The one exception to this is Discord, which I would like to build up for three reasons:
- It’s more fun to chat and hang out with like-minded people there once you get the hang of it.
- It’s easier to moderate and manage than the all-seeing monoliths that seem to fester elsewhere.
- It’s the closest thing to modern BBS, and that makes me happy.
We already have a Future Proof Discord formed in the wake of COVID-19, but it was never really built to scale properly for a public setting. I need to get a more enjoyable one up before opening the door to public access. Announcements and timelines will be TBA for now, but once it’s up this will be the main place to contact/reach out/ otherwise engage with myself and other Future Proof alum.
While I do need to pay rent myself with a real job, there are many things I still want to do with Future Proof, and a few orders of business that need to be carried out in the wake of this shutdown. These include the following…
Publishing the Future Proof Company Notion
We used Notion for all of our work from 2018-2023, including a full overhaul in late 2019. Notion is an incredible tool for companies like ours, and also provides a robust set of publishing tools.
Given how heavily we used it in ways it was and was not designed to operate, the Future Proof Notion is a fascinating archeological adventure for anybody looking to get into Film, Theater, Immersive, or Multimedia production. It’s also a great well of information from behind the curtain on projects we finished, and many we never did.
I need to do a full sweep of all private information and the like before publishing it, as we did utilize portions for things like call sheets and emergency contact lists. It also needs a tiny bit of reorganization to be user-friendly to a non-daily-user. However, once that’s complete, expect publication to the internet with much fanfare and clapping of the hands.
It is the opinion of this author that not enough companies - especially in the immersive and transmedia fields - take the time to give open and honest insight into their process and policies. We’ve accumulated a slew of knowledge and experience on the dos’ and don’ts of immersive and transmedia entertainment over the years, and it’d be a shame for it all to just sit in our heads and not be on the internet for somebody else to stumble upon. Furthermore, the amount of nonsense and chicanery we got up to over the years deserves a proper chronicle. Project: Tombstone will be an effort to provide this chronicle for future cybernauts.
Simply put, I’ll be working on a deep dive post-mortem retrospective 1080p 4k free dvdrip article series next year, taking you - the reader - through our entire process from start to finish. It’ll be fun, I promise.
The Price of Failure
When we founded this company in 2017 as LUX LLC, we had this operating agreement. Like everything we’ve ever done, it was very serious and included passages like this:
"7.9 Obliteration In the event that all Members (both Voting and Non-Voting) decide to dissolve the company for reasons not defined in section 7.1, they may instead commit the act of Obliteration.
Obliteration may only commence when all members stand in a circle facing inwards and shout “EXODIA: OBLITERATE!” on the count of three (3). At such point they are granted free range to destroy, shred, or similarly remove all trace and record of the company, its assets, etc. with the aid of Sledgehammers (pursuant to local, state, and federal zoning laws). Any physical cash-assets (in any international currency) must be fired out of a cannon mounted on the roof of the Office while a recording of Tchaikovsky's “1812 Overture” is played on no less than ten(10) loudspeakers equating to a decibel level equal to the most recent Beastquake, or the maximum ISO 9000 standard for tolerable aural levels (whichever is lower and more legal). These physical cash-assets will be declared the property of whomsoever grabs them first. Any cash-value assets will belong to the first member to lay hands on them. At the conclusion of Obliteration, all members must dispose of their Sledgehammers at the nearest legal trash receptacles, mount their horses, and ride to the Caribbean where they shall live out the remainder of their days in exile and glorious shame."
While most of it was later amended when a certified Grownup looked at it, there has always been an unspoken pact of sorts in the event we ever actually shut the company down. It goes something like this:
“In the event of a complete Company shutdown, it will be the duty of Managing Members to acquire and photograph (in a well-lit studio setting, complete with cyclorama or similar “infinity background”) any and all creative assets of value as determined by Managing Members prior to liquidation and/or sale. These photographs must be stored in a secure location and reprinted opposite descriptive text outlining their title, value at time of purchase, and contextual purpose and/or use for The Company prior to shutdown (minimum word-count 500 per item) on individual pages (A3 or larger), bound into a tasteful coffee table book, and published for sale under the title ‘The Price of Failure.’ Subtitles, introductions, postscripts, and any other descriptives may be determined at the time of production.”
While the company may not be fully shut down, given the enormity of fiscal loss on our balance sheet, it feels like the appropriate time to generate and publish this photographic odyssey and make the running joke real. The Price of Failure will be a 2024 project. Stay tuned.
Once again, it’s too good a project to shelf. I’m going to shop it around and see what can be done.
LUX Universe Stuff
One of the biggest entry-point issues we always had was getting people involved in the rich lore and backstory we developed over half a decade. A comprehensive Wiki on the Future Proof site in tandem with the Notion release will be fourthcoming. Once that’s done, expect more LUX content in the future.
For now, that’s all the news that’s fit to print. Hopefully this peak behind the curtain has sated your curiosity for the time being. I invite you to sit tight, keep on keepin’ on, and be your best selves whenever and wherever you can. Future Proof is going to be a pile of ashes for a bit, but I have full confidence somethings going to emerge out of our smoldering puddle of goo in the future. We love you all, stay safe out there, and don’t forget to have fun every once and awhile - you’ve earned it!
Alex Chmaj Producer | Co-Owner Future Proof