A Tale of Two Johns: affecting change through interactivity

Having recently presented A Tale of Two Johns at i-docs in Bristol we thought we would give a little overview of the project for those who weren’t able to see our presentation. Enjoy and feel free to follow the progress of the project on Twitter by following us @LondonQuest.

The Concept
A Tale of Two Johns is an interactive drama documentary about two men whose lives are turned upside down by the financial crisis in two European cities: London and Paris. The dual narratives will unfold in real time, in the real world and, through the use of multiple media platforms, including web-based film, social media and interactive live events, our audience will become active participants in the drama. By empowering members of the public to shape a story that responds to the global financial crisis, this project will offer a unique insight into where we stand as citizens of Europe.

Our Story
The financial crisis has affected all countries in the EU. Some countries have seen demonstrations and strikes while others have been relatively sedate. We don’t intend to pass judgement on these responses, we will simply ask: ‘What would you do?’ The two Johns could be anyone in Europe who’s lost their job and, as the emotional and financial pressures of unemployment take their toll, they’re taken outside their comfort zones and forced to look at the world differently. The crisis exposes them to individuals from all strata of society, showing not only how powerbrokers affect ordinary people, but also how ordinary people can change the world.

The Audience
As both men seek a way forward, the audience play the decisive role in determining their path and it’s this window on contemporary viewpoints that lies at the heart of the drama. Given the political scope of this project and the fundamental role of interactivity, our target audience will be politically engaged people who want to connect with artistic works as active participants not passive recipients.

Which Platforms?
The story journey begins with a series of short online films that chart the decline of both protagonists from a secure position to a situation in which their futures are jeopardised. As the project is launched, web platforms relating to various characters in the story will go live. These websites and social media forums will provide contextual detail and allow people to make direct contact with characters. The next step is for audience members to meet characters face-to-face. These live, immersive scenarios will be improvised, allowing audience interaction and influence, but structured, to ensure dramatic quality within a range of potential outcomes.

What we aim to achieve
Live Event scenarios will be filmed by a documentary maker who exists as a character within the story and a final film will amalgamate footage from scenes in London and Paris, offering a ‘compare and contrast’ of the different outcomes in the two cities. The film will focus not only on the central characters, but also on participants, showing how their influence has shaped the ultimate destination of the two Johns.

In Summary
Audiences are becoming increasingly confident in using online tools to debate television and online content, but this project will give a politically engaged viewership a new opportunity to affect change through the most powerful form of interactivity: human contact. The outcomes of the drama will be decisively affected by human interactions and, although A Tale of Two Johns is fictional, it will have a unique authenticity because the action is driven by the passions and prejudices of real people in the real world.


A Tale of Two Johns is a co-production between The London Quest Company in the UK and Kids Up Hill in France. Having recently been selected as a finalist at MIPCube’s content 360 competition and the winner of the pitch session at Global Media Connect in Lyon, the project moves forward in development and we hope to launch in the spring 2013.