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Interview: Clay Space and Behnam Karbassi Talk Back to Earth (Exclusive)

Back to Earth

A promotion still for the interactive experience, ‘Back to Earth.’

Trying to push the boundaries of what’s possible with blockchain and entertainment can be a daunting, but equally compelling and rewarding, experience for entrepreneurs. That’s certainly the case for Clay Space and Behnam Karbassi, the creator and mastermind behind the groundbreaking new sci-fi storyworld, ‘Back to Earth.’ The interactive experience, which serves as the first glimpse into the story’s universe, is launching today.

‘Back to Earth’ invites audiences to immerse themselves in a futuristic, multi-platform narrative, where a new technology could destroy the world – or save it. Audiences can enter that world by combining blockchain with storytelling to create a truly unique story experience.

Engineered by Karbassi’s company, No Mimes Media, where he serves as the founder and CEO, and based on Space’s vision, ‘Back to Earth’ gamifies the story’s apocalyptic world and allows users to enhance their experience within the narrative. The interactive experience can be accessed online on the official website of StarFate, a mega-corporation that fits into the story.

Space, Karbassi and their other colleagues on the project have built content for multiple platforms, which includes a series, a short film and a graphic novel, and they all maximize the strength of the story. The interactive experience invites players to tumble down the rabbit hole into the heart of StarFate, and discover the true origins of the apocalypse and uncover secret plans for the future of the human race. As the world teeters on the edge of ruin, one key StarFate engineer stumbles onto a secret that will change the fate of humanity — unless he can stop it.

The world of ‘Back to Earth’ was engineered by an award-winning team of experts. The creation of the story world was created by No Mimes Media, the visualization of the graphic novel and animated series was crafted by M2, and the short film was brought to life by acclaimed director Federico Heller.

Users can fully dive into the story through all mediums by purchasing StarCredits, which will allow them to do such things as unlock clues, exclusive content and merchandise discounts. ‘Back to Earth’ is allowing participants to buy StarCredits directly from StarFate’s website with their credit card.

In honor of the launch, Space and Karbassi generously took the time recently to talk about ‘Back to Earth’ during an exclusive interview over the phone. Among other things, the creator and engineer discussed how they decided to create the interactive experience because they realized that a lot of people in the U.S. weren’t focusing on how cryptocurrencies fit into entertainment and creating stories. They also noted that with the interactive experience, users can easily enter ‘Back to Earth’s world, and then become involved in blockchain with a world-wide community.

ShockYa (SY): You’re both working on the new multi-platform project,. ‘Back to Earth.’ Clay, as the project’s creator, what was the motivation behind the conception of the project?

Clay Space (CS): The inspiration for the project started back in 2014. At the time, I originally became involved in cryptocurrencies. I noticed that a lot of people in the States weren’t focusing on how those currencies fit into entertainment and creating stories; they were instead focusing on the different financial aspects.

So I thought about how I could take some of the technology that we were building to create a space for people to interact in, and have fun with it. So we started working on ‘Back to Earth’ in 2016. We created a cryptocurrency that fit our characters, and that our audience can buy and use to interact with the content.

That’s when we hired Behnam’s team, and built the interactive experience around that idea. They’ve had a lot of experience in this world. We really thought about how we could take this story, and make it a little bit more than the financial aspect that’s part of this technology that we always see.

SY: Behnam, you’re the founder and CEO of No Mimes Media, which worked on the creation of the story world. What was the process of collaborating with your company, as well as Clay, to craft the story?

Behnam Karbassi (BK): Clay approached me about a year-and-a-half ago, and I was intrigued by the project. He’s a young entrepreneur who not only raised the capital for this project, but also wanted to write, and star in, it. I also liked the story, and the fact that it’s a multi-platform world; he didn’t just want to make a film. He had a very clear plan that he also wanted to make a comic book and an interactive experience, so we started working on that. It’s been a great experience to work with him on developing this world.

With the interactive experience, we look at it in two ways; we first view it as a way for people to enter this world, and then look at in a way for people to become involved in blockchain, and how it all works. Without people knowing it, the experience itself is a metaphor for the blockchain. Each block solves another block in the chain, and little by little, people can start to solve the story over the multiple platforms…Each platform tells one of the facets of the world. It was really fun to develop it all from scratch, and have it be something that people can actually use cryptocurrency for, which really excited us.

SY: By building content for the multiple platforms, you maximized the strength of the story by taking advantage of each specific mediums. Whether they are viewing the series, reading the graphic novel or exploring the interactive experience, participants will be astonished at how deeply immersed they can be in this world. What inspired you to create the different mediums that the story is set in?

CS: The benefit of having multiple mediums is that we have the opportunity to reach multiple audiences. What we’re launching right now is very specific to the cryptocurrency community, and those people who like blockchain technology. But we also want to appeal to a broader audience, and people who may not fully understand this technology.

So we thought about how we could build multiple platforms that could bring the project to everyone in ways that they could enjoy. So that’s a big reason why we made the film and graphic novel.

BK: What’s cool for us is that the different mediums allow us to tell different parts of the story. The interactive experience, for instance, is the backstory of this corporation, and the audience has to follow one of the employees. That employee ends up being the father of the character in the short film…The characters’ stories all end up connecting together. We already knew that people consume media in a multi-platform way, so we thought, why not give them pieces of the story across all those mediums?

SY: With the interactive experience delving into the true origins of the apocalypse and the fate of humanity, what was the process of creating the visuals for each of the mediums, and working to make them not only fit the narrative, but also each other?

BK: Well, the look of the short film is very unique. It was developed by a great director out of Argentina, Federico Heller. He’s amazing, and gave the film a really unique look. For the comic, we went for a very cool, graphic novel visual style. But we also made it have color differences…so there was a lot of conscious decision-making when it came to the visual styles.

CS: One of the big challenges of creating a story across multiple platforms is that you have to make sure that the entire team is on board with everything, and that they’re communicating. With multi-platform projects, it’s common for each group to go off and do their own thing. But for us, whenever one team started to create something, that would influence every other team’s story and content. By doing that, we have this story that flows very smoothly

SY: Speaking of working with various teams on the multiple platforms for ‘Back to Earth,’ what was the process of having the different groups collaborate with each other on every step of the development process?

CS: Well, a lot of it for me is that they’re the experts at what they do. So whenever we brought on somebody new to work on the project, we’d first get them excited about the story. But then after that, their medium is their domain. We’d let them take the story and make it their own, which helped them become more engaged in the project. That makes the overall story even better.

So it was pretty hands-off, on our end, on how they wanted to tell the story on their platforms. Instead, I worked as the guy who moved between them, and made sure that they were communicating and making the story cohesive. So we gave them free rein to tell the story the way they wanted to tell it.

SY: Further speaking of cryptocurrency, users can dive further into the story by purchasing StarCredits which will allow them to unlock clues, exclusive content and merchandise discounts. ‘Back to Earth’ has simplified the process of buying bitcoin by allowing participants to purchase StarCredits directly from the site with their credit card. Why do you both feel that using StarCredits and bitcoin was the right choice for this project?

CS: The whole idea is to make the experience feel as real as possible. So in the case of this world, if people are just using their credit cards to purchase extra content, it doesn’t feel as complete as if they used this extra element (of the StarCredits). So for me, it was all about thinking how we could make this project as immersive as possible.

But it could also be a double-edged sword, since (the StarCredit) has value. So people try to speculate on its future value, so you worry about them speculating too much.

But it’s very much how we built, and how people can access, the world. We’re treating it as a game currency, and are focusing more on the content. (The StarCredit) is just one small element of the world, and we just want people to engage in, and have fun with, it.

BK: We make the interface really seamless for the user, so they don’t have to go to an exchange and buy cryptocurrency. (The StarCredit) is sold right on our site, and users can buy it there with a credit card. They can use it in different ways, such as getting help through the experience, and buying clues, exclusive content and merchandise. We’re giving it utility that we haven’t seen before…Hopefully, we’ll not people both in and out of the cryptocurrency community to appreciate it.

SY: Now that ‘Back to Earth’ has officially launched, what projects do you both have coming up? Are you both interested in continuing work on this project?

CS: I hope that we can continue to collaborate! We’re currently working on getting financing, so that we can turn the short film into a TV show. We’re going to bring the short film to different festivals next year, so that we can hopefully get meetings to secure that financing. So this interactive experience is the launch for this world, but it’s by no means the end of the content that will be coming out of this project.

Summary
Photo ofClay Space and Behnam Karbassi
Name
Clay Space and Behnam Karbassi
Website
Job Title
Creator and mastermind behind 'Back to Earth'
Company
No Mimes Media
Address
213 40th Street,
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266, CA, 90266
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As a life-long fan of entertainment, particularly films, television and music, and an endless passion for writing, Karen Benardello decided to combine the two for a career. She graduated from New York's LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic. While still attending college, Karen began writing for Shockya during the summer of 2007, when she began writing horror movie reviews. Since she began writing for Shockya, Karen has been promoted to the position of Senior Movies & Television Editor. Some of her duties in the position include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, producing posts on celebrity news and contributing reviews on albums and concerts. Some of her highlights include attending such festivals and conventions as the Tribeca Film Festival, the New York Film Festival, SXSW, Toronto After Dark, the Boston Film Festival and New York Comic-Con.

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