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Internet Story is a 2010 short mystery drama film created by writer Adam Butcher about a person trying to crack Al1’s Nine Grand Quest, a fictional treasure hunt for ₤9000 British pounds supposedly hidden somewhere in the United Kingdom with clues to its whereabouts on the web.
Adam Butcher announced the production of Internet Story via his website sometime in 2009, describing it as a story about a video blogger on a public treasure hunt as told through videos, animations, blogs and news articles. In June 2009, Butcher claimed he found a link to a website for a similar public treasure hunt titled “Al1’s Nine Grand Quest”, which was later revealed to have been created by Butcher himself earlier that year in March. He also created a YouTube account for Fortress, the fictional video blogger on the quest, to host the videos shown in the film. Internet Story was completed in April 2010 and uploaded to Vimeo on July 31st.
An unnamed narrator presents the story of Al1’s Nine Grand Quest, a small website hosted on Angelfire that claims someone had buried £9000 somewhere in the UK for anyone on the web to find. The first clue links to what looks like a comic strip without any captions.
Months later, a YouTuber named Fortress publishes a video titled “I solve the £9000 quest! #1” (shown below) in which he explains the comic is a retelling of one of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, The Pardoner’s Tale, about three men seeking out Death to take revenge for one of their friends, but they end up killing each other out of greed.
After breaking the first code, Fortress is presented with a second puzzle, a color-coded note asking the reader to find a house on a whale’s tale. It led to a desolate field shaped like a house in Wales. Fortress’ final video shows him travelling to Yellowstone in Pennsylvania, United States. The narrator then points out the recurring motif of the color yellow throughout the story, revealing a secret code within his second note that spelled out “ive been alone so long But youll find me noW” (sic). Two days later, a BBC article is published with the title “Body discovered on Welsh farm” that notes there were two sets of footprints and one body found with a stab wound. The film ends with on-screen epilogue stating “Since the making of this film, the North Wales Police Force has been informed of all the evidence collected. The murder remains unsolved.”
Months after Butcher’s film was uploaded onto Vimeo, Internet Story was shared on Reddit on October 10th, 2011, where it received 2751 points and 8412 upvotes. Despite the credits at the end which name Butcher as the writer and director, some began investigating the story as if it were real. However, the discussion came to an end after some Redditors debunked numerous claims made in the film, including Redditor oate who noted that the BBC news article shown in the film claimed that the police had found a dead body, yet the news photograph depicted a living person.
That same day, Internet Story spread to other blogs and forums where its authenticity was similarly put to debate, including Buzzfeed, MetaFilter, science blog It’s Okay To Be Smart, gaming forum Bungie and the A.V. Club. Over the next several days, discussion about the truth behind the video appeared on Memebase, I Am Boredand the Revolution of Gaming forums. On October 14th, Butcher appeared in an interview with CBS News, during which he said he wanted to make viewers question its legitimacy, as he didn’t “think it would have resonated with people if there wasn’t some truth to it.”
Though “internet story” is a broad phrase, search volume for it peaked in October 2011, along with search for Adam Butcher and Nine Grand Quest.
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