The case of the Midnight Note

We gotta confess, things were going downhill for Webstock. We were as stress-free as a good-looking dame in a bar on New Year’s Eve. It had been a rough summer. Summer in Wellington had been like nails drawn down a blackboard. And then this appeared. We needed it in the same way Charlie Bird needed a tailor. We choked on our flat whites and headed downtown to investigate.

1) What’re troublemakers like you doin’ muscling in on Webstock turf? We’ve heard rumours, but we didn’t think anyone would be this brave, this soon.

This summer’s been more disappointing than a video promising an awesome back-flip but delivering Rick Astley. We’re lookin’ to shake things up a bit in this town and make people ignore the rain.

The Case of the Midnight Note is a project to raise money to help folks attend this year’s Webstock conference. The project is a collaboration between Cj Wells, Chelsea Hughes, Hadyn Green, Jed Soane, Jem Yoshioka and Timothy Greig.

Webstock is basically *the* web event of the year. We can’t even begin to describe what it is or what it means to web folks. It’s something special. Most of us work for The Man and he’s sending us to Webstock for free. We’re interested in helping folks (starving digital artists/students/awesome-deserving-people), who don’t work for The Man, and who can’t afford to go, go. So we’re holding a fundraiser to raise money for them.

The project includes two major parts: a noir-themed semi-interactive transmedia storytelling game and a noir-themed fundraising tweet-up.

The storytelling game began a few weeks ago. You’ll find updates from the story collected on The Case website. Updates are published chronologically and you might have to scroll back through time to catch up.

The fundraiser will be held on January 28 at an (as of yet) undisclosed, secret location in Wellington and will cost $10-$20 (depending on how much you want to pay). All proceeds will be gifted to those in need of financial assistance to go towards the cost of a Webstock registration.

2) You call it “The Case of the Midnight Note”. It’s a name redolent of roses dying in the sultry night heat. What’s in a name?

It’s late at night, our cigarettes are running low and we’ve got whiskey, but no ice. Just before the clock hits all zeroes we get the name we wanted.

We decided the name should follow the same pattern as other noir-ish stories, like The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep: adjective plus noun. We combined this approach with the idea that lots of noir stories begin with the anti-hero getting approached to solve a mystery. In our opening scene, Sam gets a note asking him to solve a case, and voila, we had it: The Case of the Midnight Note.

In retrospect, we should have called it The Case of the Midnight Email – The story is developed organically. We meet, we discuss, we tweak, and then we produce. Often in snatched and stolen hours (midnight!) because everyone has full other lives. We’re hoping that by following Sam on The Case, we’ll generate interest and excitement for the fundraiser and we’ll have a good turnout on the night.

3) Crowd-sourcing is generally as useful as an amputated leg. We see your gumshoe, Sam, needs some help with the case…

A detective is only as good as his leads and Sam’s have evaporated like a cold beer on a hot day.

So he’s reached with the only means he has at his disposal, the internet. He needs contacts all over the city and internet in all walks of life sending him tips, clues, and hunches. Occasionally he’ll need errands run too. Everyone thinks he’s a killer so he can’t be seen out and about too much, so he needs some friendly followers who will drop off notes or pick up information for him. Sam also needs you to keep an eye on Betty. Let’s face it, she’s hawt. He’s a boy. He’s not thinking too straight and he needs your help.

4) The night of January 28. At a local speakeasy. What’s going down then?

We don’t want to have shoot up the gin joint but if they come packin’ heat then… whatever goes down, goes down. Luckily, in this town the weapon of choice is usually a cell phone.

The Case of the Midnight Note creates an alternative Wellington, where shadows dance in the moonlight, everyone’s a suspect for something, and dodgy dealings are the norm (so maybe it’s not as alternative as we thought). We’re holding a tweet-up fundraiser that dives deep into this parallel universe, but don’t let the fantasy fool you: we’re basically just looking for any excuse to dress up and party. It’s a noir theme, so dress accordingly!

The idea is that the story will create intrigue leading up to the fundraiser and generate interest in attending.

The fundraiser is designed to continue the theme of mystery and intrigue found in The Case of the Midnight Note story, so the details of the location are being kept a secret until the last minute. Don’t worry though, it’ll definitely be somewhere in the Wellington CBD! Otaki’s not very accessible…or noir-y! We’re also keeping the exact details of the night under wraps to add to the mystique, but we can say there will be live music, and The Case will conclude that night. You might even rub shoulders with some of the characters from the story!

5) So the case is really about sex, murder and money. Where’s the money going? It’d better be on the straight and up. Remember, Webstock is connected like a roadhouse blonde. We can make things happen if you know what we mean.

Woah easy there. We’re your friends.

This project is about friends helping friends get to Webstock.

We’ve had some questons about how funds raised would be distributed.

Because we don’t yet know how much will be raised on the night of the fundraiser, we cannot disclose the amount of money available for distribution nor can decisions be made about who should receive funding assistance.

After the fundraiser and once we know how much money we have to distribute, we will put out a call for nominations of people in need of partial funding to go toward a Webstock registration.

We do not anticipate raising enough funds to support a full registration for anyone. We will likely be able to provide *some* of the money needed. The nomination process will be very light-weight and involve nominating someone and writing about why the money should be used to subsidise them.
The project team will review nominations and may consult with Webstock organisers for assistance in selecting worthy nominees. Where the nominated person is also project team member, they will be excluded from selection discussions to ensure fairness. And we’ll tell you about it.

The biggest thing you can do to help if you are in Wellington on the January 28 is to attend. Add your self to the facebook event or twtvite. We’ll promise you you’ll make some new friends, and you’ll have a swell time. So what’dya think? Ya think ya might want a help a private dick down to his last dime solve a case that could set him back on the path to Cleansville and maybe even get the girl?

So, colour us convinced. We went in as cynical as an ambulance lawyer. We came out thinking that there’s still romance and goodness and altruism alive in this cold world.

We came out thinking that down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. He is the hero, he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor, by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world.

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