Behind the Scenes with producer Lance Dann

How and when did you meet Cornelius, and then how did the Flickerman project begin?

Cornelius was just one of those people you know from around town -– Brighton isn't a huge place and the free-party scene is pretty close. So we'd see each other here and there -- find ourselves sitting on a sofa at 5 AM in some filthy squat, propping up the bar together at a club, throwing shapes around a sound system as the sun came up. That kind of thing. We never spoke much beyond "Ow's it going?" "Nice one" "Tune!" –- that level of conversation.He knew I worked in radio and I knew that around about last Halloween he and his girlfriend, Lucinda, went missing. I didn't think about it a great deal, they weren't missing from my life. Then last Christmas a parcel drops through my letterbox and inside was a note from Cornelius and a hard-drive. The note didn't make much sense, something about putting the record straight, about telling his side of the story, about wanting me to help him get his message to a bigger audience -- you know, your usual paranoid nonsense. But the hard drive -- that was something else. It contained hundreds of audio files -- field recordings, monologues, eavesdroppings -- all the audio you hear in the first three episodes.There was a real story there –- one I wanted to help him tell and one I thought people would want to hear.So I went to work.I've drawn a lot of other people into the production team for "The Flickerman" -- Philip Bussmann, who is a video designer for the Forsythe Company, created the Web site; Jim Horn, who is a brilliant sound recordist; Simon James, a fantastic producer; a team of musicians including Rohan Kriwaczek, Hywel Payne, Mark Durham, Martin Tisdall, Barbed and James Goddard, who have given the series its unique sound. Then there's Lex, Laura, Geordia Al, Dougie -- loads of people who have played their parts...

How has the project developed since Cornelius first got in touch?

I cleaned up the audio from Cornelius, commissioned some music and produced the three episodes. Cornelius has loaded the occasional blog entry but I guess in his current mental state he isn't to be trusted. It comes across as a drama, but it's a lot more –- an interactive narrative, an art piece, an Alternative Reality Game -- I don't know exactly what to call it all. Something new, I hope!The series has run on Resonance FM (London), RadioReverb (Brighton), WFMU (New York), and is about to go out on ABC National (Australia) throughout November.So lots of people have heard Cornelius' story -– about the attacks, and how he's being stalked, about how photos of him and his life are appearing all over the Internet and, of course, about how Lucinda has gone missing. And he's not happy.

How have people responded to the story? Have they delivered valuable information or are they leading Cornelius down useless paths

I think Cornelius feels I've done my job too well –- I've created too much publicity. The whole thing has started again –- people have sent Cornelius pictures of where he might be hiding, of people they think might be Lucinda, of Travis, his life as it unfolds. Basically the stalking has started again.He's accused me of using the crisis in his life to further my career -– turning his pain to my gain. Which is somewhat unfair -– I'm only doing what he asked me to do. It's not my fault his emotional/psychological breakdown (or whatever this is) makes such riveting entertainment!The series was reviewed in the Guardian back in November -– it was described as "new and amazing", "exhilarating", "brilliant" and "fashionably compulsive." Is that my fault? Is it my fault that people want to pay me now for further episodes? That I perhaps need something of note to happen to Cornelius so the story can continue?Is that my fault? ### Do you consider Cornelius a friend? Do you feel responsible for continuing to help him tell his story? Has this become burdensome, emotionally or otherwise? Yeah –- well he's not a friend but I feel I know him pretty well by now. We've had our differences but I think part of him is loving this. You see, Cornelius didn't exactly have a lot going on for him before last Halloween and suddenly his life takes off like this.It's all probably just an art prank on his part anyway -- I know for sure that the church in town didn't explode last year, no one called Josh was called after a Halloween party, and I've never heard of a "Bullshit Barney" (and don't want to).But then those pictures are real . . . and he is missing . . . and I've got the recordings. Where might this end? Will you continue to help Cornelius tell his story indefinitely? Are you afraid for his life / expecting to hear the worst any day now

Things are moving on. We're advancing to the next stage of the story. Since ABC got in touch Cornelius has woken up and is convinced we can use them to find Lucinda -- his estranged girlfriend (personally I think she's just run off with Josh and he can't hack it).So –- he's gone out and posted a series of films online. He thinks she's in Australia and is asking people to look for her, to find pictures of her and load them up to the Web site. He's hoping that people will put up pictures of where she has been, of whom she has been with, of what she's been doing, the car she's been driving, the meals she ate, the clothes she was wearing -– anything to help him put the story of where she has been together.Then when he has everything –- it will all start again. The story will start again

Does "The Flickerman" need the images / the Internet to succeed, or are the radio programs enough?* The pictures that Cornelius uses to tell his story are out there on the Internet –- the people who put them there don't seem to know about this project –- so they are real online artifacts. Seeing them does lend the story a certain veracity. I'm also very conscious of the fact that not everyone can be bothered to go and look as they listen –- that not everyone wants to engage all the time –- that's the problem with so much interactive* drama. People don't always want to interact. I've got two kids, a PhD to complete, and a full-time job. Sometimes when I take a break I want to be entertained. I understand that urge, not to have my intelligence insulted but to be passive –- to receive. (Also there is the issue of audience-led narrative –- "you get to tell the story" –- no thanks! You're the storyteller –- that's what you're supposed to be paid to do, what you're good at -- you tell the story!)So I've tried to frame "The Flickerman" in a manner that allows the audience to choose their own level of interaction. They can follow every blog, clue, looks at the maps, watch the films, download the iPhone app (which should be ready any day now), contact me or (god help them) Cornelius if they choose. They can try and put this whole mystery together for themselves -– the clues are out there.Or they can choose not to. Instead they can just listen and imagine and let the story occur inside their head, where the pictures are normally so much better anyway. ***An interview with Cornelius Zane-Grey

The TCF felt it important to at least try to contact Cornelius, so we sent him an e-mail, expecting it would be ignored. To our surprise, he responded the next day. And while he didn't actually answer all of our questions, he did, in a few short sentences and phrases, clearly convey his current frame of mind. ### Have you heard from anyone in Chicago who may know more about who's following you? Chicago -- no I don't think I have heard or seen anything out there to give me cause for concern -- what worries me is that each time my story is run in a new city -- people from that locale come back with sightings . . . with images . . . tell me I was there . . . tell me Lucinda was there . . . in a bar . . . with their granny . . . holding up a bank . . . whatever . . . people see what they want to see. Has Lucinda been spotted anywhere near the U.S. midwest? What about Barney? She's in Australia -- I'm sure of it.Barney -- I don't know . . . Lucinda seems to think he's dangerous . . . I'm not sure how that is possible. Considering our considerable interest in audio storytelling, why did you decide to share your story on the radio, instead of JUST the Internet via your blog? Will listeners feel more comapassionate because they're hearing your voice

The truth of the matter is that I am using Lance Dann as my tool -- he is not aware of this fact but I'm playing him -- he's serving my purpose and helping me get my cause known.Travis is three feet away from me and smelling bad.So I know at least he's here.Unless your audience have evidence otherwise. Sorry to be so ambiguous -- but my heart really is set Down Under at the moment.Yours,Cornelius Zane-Grey