By Jessica Gahan

Following in the footsteps of Scorched, the Dharma Wants You website, created by Brisbane based Hoodlum, has been nominated for its Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media – Fiction.

Hoodlum first worked with ABC and the creators of Lost on the Flight 815 episode, which was about the husband of a passenger trying to locate the missing aircraft.

A year later, Hoodlum started work on another multi platform project for the series. The company’s relationship with the continued to grow over time and eventually it was asked to create the Dharma Wants You website. This was part of an alternative reality game released between seasons four and five of Lost. 

The interactive website was interesting and different because it offered audiences the chance to become active members in the fictional Dharma Initiative. This organisation is based on a scientific community from Lost, which attempts to recruit and assess volunteers for a secret research project. 

Via the website, fans were offered the opportunity to join this exclusive scientific research company through rigorous testing and the elite few that were accepted received their own identification cards in their mailboxes.

The idea was to ‘blur the lines between fact and fiction’ and to keep audiences engaged with the Lost series by employing many media platforms, including websites, video, games, YouTube and mobile phones.

“Sometimes we had more or less access to story lines, sometimes we did something that WAS completely original and other times we built on stuff that existed already,” says Kerrin McNeil, studio manager at Hoodlum. “For us, Dharma Wants You really tapped into the story lines of Lost. We were able to bring the story to life in a different way.”

Although Hoodlum is currently doing a lot of work for the US and UK right now, McNeil does not think that Australia is behind the rest of the world when it comes to making multi platform media.

“Obviously we have a smaller market here, and we are finding ways to do more work, and I think that this year we’ve been able to get some breakthroughs happening. For example, we have produced a project with Essential Media and Entertainment called The Making of Modern Australia. It is supported by the ABC and all the state agencies.”

The Making of Modern Australia is a project that compiles various histories of Australians from 1945 onwards. The website allows audiences to explore each other’s histories, in addition to leaving their own. It will eventually be made into a documentary airing on the ABC, blurring the lines between different mediums and boosting the multiplatform piece.

As for the future, Hoodlum still intends to work on projects all over the world, as well as Australia.

“I think it appears that we are working a lot in the US because shows like Lost are so well known. But we do the same, if not more work in the UK, and we are doing more and more in Australia as well. As to why we have gone to the US? I guess we wanted to be at the pointy end of the stick with the projects that we make, and we need access to large audiences to do those projects.”

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