We were pioneers.
In the summer of 1996, around three years after the “birth” of the world wide web, Christina Marie and I created a commercial web site called “S.F. Blend.” It was to be a daily comedic soap opera, a look into the lives of six twenty- and thirty-somethings (and one vampire) in the wilds of San Francisco.
We planned out major story arcs, how they would interact with each other, who would sleep with who… the whole soap experience. There were bitter rivalries, unrequited love, and plenty of S.F.-style insanity.
I wrote three characters (Mark, Charylu, Sunshine,) Christina wrote three (China, Dolores, Rich) and the guy who played Justin wrote his own character (with some editing.) I would go up to Christina’s every three or four days and we’d hit the street with a camera and our actors. This was years before any sort of video would make its way to the internet, so we used a still camera and had our actors pose to illustrate part of the story we’d write later. I took the film back to Santa Cruz, had it developed, scanned the pictures, uploaded them to a place where Christina could see them, and then we would write based on the photos we had available. Sometimes we’d get a shot that would inspire us to take the story in a completely different direction.
I did a huge amount of Photoshop work (and sometimes had so much I would farm it out to my friend Lyle.) Sometimes people weren’t available and would have to be spliced into a shot. Or it was a dream sequence with something odd going on. Or it had to look like someone was driving in a car. Or someone wanted a wrinkle smoothed out. I learned quite a bit. Of course, now, I look at my work and see it as extremely amateurish.
It was a lot of work and usually a lot of fun. And it lasted for three months.
We never made a cent, never got a single ad. I had to declare bankruptcy.
If we had only waited one more year, we could have been part of the bubble, and sold stock, and been temporarily rich. But no. We were the prospectors who got there before the gold rush. We built our mine, we worked really hard, but we never did find that sparkling metal.
Anyway, here it is, frozen in time, a little slice of the internet from 1996: