DARK SCORE STORIES

WRITER & EXPERIENCE DESIGN

PRAISE FOR DARK SCORE STORIES

"We've seen a lot of different kinds of viral marketing in support of upcoming projects as of late, but this one? This one kicks a copious amount of ass."
—Dread Central

"I really, really, really am in awe of the team behind this campaign."
—Siege Malvar

"The online experience strikes the right chord. The stillness of the content and noticeable lack of required clicks allows the creepy undertones to bubble up."
—Fast Company


In 2011, Campfire hired J.C. to help create Dark Score Stories, a transmedia prequel to A&E's miniseries adaptation of Stephen King's #1 bestseller, Bag of Bones.

A&E wanted a smart, slick — and scary — experience that would whet the appetites of casual viewers and longtime Stephen King fans. Campfire concocted a multimedia narrative that delivered. Embracing the "lo-fi" verve of Bag of Bones' rural setting, Dark Score Stories used timeless storytelling media such as black-and-white photojournalism, NPR-style audio interviews and journal-like writings from a fictional photographer — all documenting the fictional community of Dark Score Lake ... and hinting at its bloody history.

At its heart, Bag of Bones is a ghost story. So is Dark Score Stories. Several of the documentary-style photos seen in the campaign were "haunted," featuring subtle, unsettling movements from their subjects (many of whom appear in the miniseries). These creepy blink-and-you'll-miss-it moments sparked enthusiastic online conversation and press coverage.

But it was the mystery of Dark Score Lake — hinted at in those radio-like interviews, and glimpsed in several photos — that kept the audience on site. The photographer's journal describes a town soaked in paranoia and dread. Puzzles embedded inside those essays sent visitors on quests to unlock exclusive "scare moments" and GetGlue badges.

Finally, to delight King's hardcore fans, more than 150 "Stephen King universe" props were hidden in the photos. These literary easter eggs — which referenced dozens of the author's novels, stories and stories — sparked  collaborative scavenger hunts from dedicated fans. It was clear no other campaign had catered King's superfans in this way ... and the fans loved it. 

J.C. was Dark Score Stories' writer; he also contributed to its experience design. Working with Creative Director Steve Coulson, he helped create the arc of the prequel, wrote all essays and audio scripts, conceived more than 100 "King universe" props, and directed actors such as Pierce Brosnan in on-set voiceover recordings.

Dark Score Stories generated national press coverage. Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Wired and Entertainment Weekly reported on the experience. The campaign was also a 2012 Webby honoree in the Television category. Online buzz intensified as the premiere's date grew closer, earning Stephen King's Bag of Bones the largest cable audience of a miniseries since 2008.


J.C. Hutchins    •    site design by J.C. Hutchins & Galin Kozarov