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'Book of Jer3miah': BYU Web series bridged media, social gaps

Published: Thursday, July 26 2012 1:00 p.m. MDT

Some interactive elements even reached beyond cyberspace to the real world: During one scene in episode 4, Jeremiah receives a text that reads, "You have to earn the right to regain the box," with a three-digit code above it that led viewers to a flash drive with clues about the secret conspiracy hidden in a classroom at BYU. Another clue required fans to visit the statue of Wampanoag Chief Massasoit on the BYU campus and line up a sheet of paper dropped off by Parkin and Cardon with the plaque on the statue to fill in the missing letters of a message.

"I liked being part of something people were actually getting excited about," said Bryan Densley, who worked with classmate Cody Brown mixing and designing the sound in the series. "One time an episode was delayed and the Davenport Papers was just going crazy — 'Something must have happened,' 'What's going on?' — when really we just hadn't met our deadline."

Since graduating from BYU in April of 2011, Densley has been doing freelance sound design. He worked on the sound in Parkin and Cardon's latest project, a transmedia Web series sponsored by Deseret Book called "Pretty Darn Funny."

Work on season 2 of "Jer3miah" is slowly moving forward. Deseret Book released the first season on DVD in April of 2012 and Parkin and Cardon worked with novelist Luisa Perkins on a novelization, scheduled to come out next spring. They have developed a story for the second season and are promoting the DVD while they try to find funding to film and produce it.

"I hope somehow we'll find the funding to do it," Cardon said. "Who knows? This whole thing was very unexpected. We didn't expect the success."

"The Book of Jer3miah" was named an official honoree for best drama at the 2011 international Webby Awards along with 15 other drama series, some of which had big budgets and came from networks like Disney-ABC, Black Entertainment Television and the Independent Film Channel. It has also received awards from the Association for Mormon Letters; W3 Awards; Accolade Awards; NexTV Competition; ThrillSpy Film Festival in Washington, D.C.; and the LDS Film Festival. "The Book of Jer3miah" generated more than 250,000 views in total and about 200 people played the alternate reality game, Cardon said.

Parkin and Cardon described their reservations when someone told them The New York Times had reviewed the first season of "Jer3miah" in 2009.

"We thought, 'Oh great,'" Parkin said. "Prop 8 was going on at the time. I remember opening the review and reading it and thinking we couldn't have asked for a better review if we'd written it ourselves."

The title of The New York Times review, "Not Just for Mormons Anymore," pretty much sums up its stated opinion: that although "there are a few points harder for non-Mormons to swallow … on the other hand, you know what all this leads to? Real drama, with real stakes and real consequences."

After all is said and done, Faulk said, the end result was worth it.

"It was a lot of work," Cardon agreed, "but it was also fun to be on the cutting edge of storytelling. For me, it was one of the coolest things getting feedback from people who watched with their families."

BYU web series bridged media, social gaps

Deseret Book released the first season of "The Book of Jer3miah" on DVD in April.

Email: jhenrie@desnews.com

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