Are Ridley And Tony Scott Really Working On A Blade Runner Prequel?

Today, Ridley Scott announced a new sci-fi webseries from his RSA Films commercial company, created in conjunction with his brother Tony and nephew Luke. Purefold is to be a series of 5-10 minute online videos, laden with product placement and tinged with Phillip K.Dick-like sci-fi themes, concepts and questions. Already, I've seen reports pitching it as a kind of Blade Runner prequel where, in fact, it is nothing of the sort. Can't blame the Scott Bros. (and Son) from trying to cash in on the comparison-cum-confusion though, can you?

The New York Times are quoting David Bausola, from the AG8 studio that will actually be making the films. Here's his comments on how the project ties into Blade Runner, or rather doesn't:

We don't take any of the canon or copyrighted assets from the movie. It's actually based on the same themes as Blade Runner It's the search for what it means to be human and understanding the notion of empathy. We are inspired by Blade Runner.

Talking of copyrighted assets, one weird kink with the project is that it will be licensed under a creative commons agreement. Essentially, that means you will be able to take the footage and re-edit it in any way you see fit. Earlier interaction will also be possible, with story suggestions solicited via the FriendFeed social network.

Another tie to Blade Runner will be the employment of real brands throughout the series. These will be where the funds come from. Campaign magazine have given an explanation of how the series will be created, from advertiser investment to plotting, through scripting, production and beyond:

Purefold works by scanning social networking sites for online conversations across all social media.  These conversations are  collated and the most highly rated can be used by brands as the basis for storylines that are fleshed out and rewritten by professional scriptwriters.

The scripts are then turned into five-minute, high-quality web-based programmes directed by RSA directors from around the world.  Once online, consumers can become involved with developing the storyline through talking or blogging about it.  The most talked-about stories will be kept and further developed while the least talked-about will then be discarded.

Clients who decide to get involved with Purefold are likely to be charged a flat fee no matter how popular or unpopular their films become.

Famously, lots of companies featured as advertisers in Blade Runner no longer exist, which adds a curious sheen of nostalgia to the film's futurism. Could the current tempests in the financial climate create a more rapid version of that situation with Purefold? It isn't impossible – Transformers 2, for example, is weighed down with GM product placement and that sponsor has hit the skids before the film has even reached cinemas.