The movie "The Hunger Games" has inspired students in a Brigham Young University film class to create a short parody, "Real Hunger Games: Mom vs. Hungry Kids."
In the two weeks since it first appeared online, the video depicting a mother running away from hungry kids has drawn more than 53,000 views.
The parody was created as a promotion for the first season of a web series produced by BYU students, "Pretty Darn Funny." Deseret Book launched the family-friendly comedy in April, and each of the six episodes has attracted more than 3,000 views. Two of the six have attracted more than 15,000 views. The "Hunger Games" parody stars "Pretty Darn Funny" lead actress Lisa Valentine Clark.
An undergraduate film class under the direction of associate professor Jeff Parkin produced the series during a winter semester, according to a news release. The 25-student class served as writers, editors, crew members, post production supervisors and even puppet masters for the series.
The curriculum is a part of transmedia storytelling, which BYU added to its curriculum in 2008. The class produced its first web series that year, "The Book of Jer3miah," which won a 2010 Webby Award.
Transmedia storytelling, Parkin said, is a fairly new way of interacting with a web series' fans, and his class has grown in popularity since its inception. Eighty students tried to register for 25-student course in the winter, he said.
The idea is to tell stories across multiple platforms, Parkin said. "In each platform, you get a different part of the story. Most transmedia stories are driven by a web series. We tell other aspects of the story via blogs, Facebook and text messages, even alternate reality games."
Alternate reality games take fans away from computer screens and point them to real-life locations to follow a secondary story relating to the web series.
Taylor Carver, who graduated in April after completing Parkin's class, helped coordinate the alternative reality game in addition to helping produce "Pretty Darn Funny."
Carver landed a job immediately after graudation at Friendemic, a company that specializes in helping other companies advertise with social media. Many of Parkin's students have gone on to find jobs in media, including Jarod Cardon, executive producer of "Pretty Darn Funny" and owner of a video production company, Tinder Transmedia.
"I was creating blogs, Facebook profiles and Gmail accounts for the alternate reality game," Carver said. "I had to think creatively, and outside the box to make videos and audio. That's what my job is now."
She estimated that 50 to 60 people participated in the alternate reality game out of the thousands who watched the web series. While that number is a mere fraction of the viewers, Carver called her efforts a success.
"We worked so hard on this, and we love how other people are finding it funny and are sharing it," Carver said. "We wanted to do something cool that wasn't raunchy and can be embraced by anybody. We just hope it can keep growing, and more and more people will discover it."
Watch the film
O BYU film students' parody of "The Hunger Games" can be viewed at http://bit.ly/KJPC4M.