Discovering CodeBurst With Ben, Reed and Mat
Codeburst is fundamentally a story about confronting evil—even if it’s inside you. Set in a dystopian future-world where nations have dissolved and given way to massive corporations (unaffectionately referred to as “corp-states”), this cyberpunk tale follows the adventures of Jamie, a young man trapped in an involuntary life of violence and espionage by code downloaded directly into his brain. On the hunt for who is controlling him and what they want, he maintains some control over his everyday life and decisions, but on the rare occasion he tries to escape, the mysterious A.I. that has suppressed his emotions and taken root in his mind exerts its control and forces him to complete his missions—sometimes with tragic results.
Our story begins in the midst of a fairly routine assassination, after which Jamie seeks respite at his favorite hole in the wall: The Lucky Star. While he waits for the next codeburst, he drowns his sorrow in cinnamon vodka, the antics of his clumsy robot pal Charlie, and the laughter of his closest friend and mentor, Merrill. Merrill, who is aware of Jamie’s secret life, has taken it upon himself to keep Jamie’s hope alive, despite Jamie’s efforts to the contrary. But before he can cheer Jamie up, Jamie receives a shocking new codeburst. He and Charlie set out together to find the source of the cryptic new code and hopefully confront the shadowy figure behind the A.I. in Jamie’s head.
How it all came together
We wrote Codeburst because we wanted to write the kind of story we wish we could read. We’re both avid fans of great storytelling, whether those stories come to us from books, plays, movies, video games, or TV, and we’re ALSO both avid fans of great music, regardless of its genre. Our whole lives we’ve dreamt about telling stories with music—we even wrote an opera about zombies when we were in college. Most of Ben’s work tends to appear on the stage, and most of Reed’s tends to appear on the screen, but both of us have a pretty insatiable desire to try new things, so we’re constantly abandoning familiar territory for unexplored genres, media, and ideas.
As we were developing the story of Codeburst and searching for the best way to tell it, we considered a lot of different media: electronic vocoder opera, concept album, novel nothing fit quite right. Then Reed and Mat Kaminski met on Twitter, and everything changed.
A new addition to the team
Mat brought his visual sensibilities and musical taste into the equation, instantly transforming the team and the project. After that, it quickly took shape: part short story, part illustrated graphic novel, and part concept album, Codeburst deliberately defies definition and genre, inviting the reader into a far more immersive experience than the average short story.
Ben and Reed have been creating together for over a decade. From alternative operas to Hollywood film trailers, from theatrical productions to short films, they never tire of bending genres, telling stories, or composing music. Reed is primarily a composer for film, short film, gaming, and commercial media, and Ben is primarily a composer for opera, theater, and musical theater. Their opera Maelstrom – The Zombie Opera was nominated for three 2010 Portland Area Musical Theatre Awards and has been produced three times in two states. Their short films have been viewed over 200,000 times on YouTube. They’re proud residents of the beautiful Twin Cities in Minnesota.