The Armageddon Letters, a series of short films, graphic novels and podcasts, are being released throughout October in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis. The transmedia project is web-based and is designed to appeal to a broad audience, exposing them to the realities of the 1962 crisis.
Serving as producer and creator of the project's media elements is Koji Masutani '05. The project's coordinators have tried to ensure that the 20 short films combine both entertainment and education, Masutani said. Half of these films will be in live action, while the other half will be virtually animated.
The project is being produced and funded by the Balsillie School of International Affairs in Canada. Masutani said his motives are "completely issue-driven," as there is no expected profit from the project.
Two former Brown faculty members are also involved in the Armageddon Letters. Masutani said that James Blight and Janet Lang, former professors of international relations, are both "experts on foreign policy crises." Blight has dedicated the past 25 years of his life to examining the Cuban missile crisis.
Both Blight and Lang worked with Masutani at Brown in 2005 to produce the film "Virtual JFK: Vietnam If Kennedy Had Lived."
"Koji convinced us that the next step was ... a transmedia project," Lang said, adding, "as far as we can tell, ours is the first transmedia project (on the crisis) in academia."
Masutani said a central goal is to present the topic in a manner that "the kid skateboarding on Thayer can engage (with)." Masutani said that some of the films will connect to pop culture, specifically involving Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber.
The project uses different media forms to "create as many access points as possible," Masutani said. Each format is supposed to give a more in-depth understanding of the legitimate risk of nuclear disaster during the early 1960s.
Though the films advocate against nuclear weapons, they emphasize that nuclear Armageddon is possible, even if such an event is unwanted by both sides. This counterintuitive truth is important to understanding the crisis in its entirety, Masutani said.
Lang said she hopes the project will show "how dangerous" the missile crisis was, adding "we'd like our viewers and readers to make the connection to the present."
Correction appended: An earlier version of this article incorrectly quoted the Armageddon Letters series' producer and creator Koji Masutani '05 as wanting to present topics in such a way that "the kid skateboarding on Thayer can understand." In fact, he said he wants "the kid skateboarding on Thayer" to be able to engage with his topics. The article also referenced the project as a multimedia one, when in fact it is a transmedia effort. The Herald regrets the errors.