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I’m of the generation that remembers
when WIRED predicted we’d be ditching our TV sets for shows
broadcast on the internet exclusively. It seemed a far-off
proposition in those early days of the web when most internet video
looked like a slideshow on our meagre dial-up connections and
television shows still dominated our daily entertainment.
Here in 2012 we are frequently turning
to the web for television content. Major broadcasters make many of
their shows available online and more and more people are taking
advantage and learning to consume media in different ways. Many shows
produced exclusively for the web are being made as well, with the
expected mixed bag of results.
Today I’d like to take a look at 2
recent web series I’ve been introduced to and consider worthy of
inducting into the New Flesh canon. Not only are these series good
shows in their own right, they are both using the web format in
interesting ways and pioneering new funding models for getting their
visions on your screen.
Canadian-produced web series
GUIDESTONES bills itself as “An Interactive Thriller” and it
delivers on both fronts. The premise of the show is 2 university
students working on a project for class end up getting involved in a
murder mystery that leads them on a search for the truth behind a
global conspiracy and an impending apocalypse. The characters in the
series search for clues to help them unlock the secrets of the
conspiracy which are hidden, often in plain sight, all around the
globe and the internet and tying in to the very real (and very
creepy!) Georgia Guidestones.
The tone of the show is very
techno-thriller at times - an interesting blend of the kinetic visual
style of the BOURNE films and the puzzle solving clue hunting through
history and secret societies reminiscent of THE DA VINCI CODE. It
gets delivered via email in these perfect, bite-sized packages of 3
to 5 minute episodes which occur in “real time” from the point
you subscribe and can be enjoyed on your PC or on your smartphone if
you are on the go.
I personally found the smartphone
option coupled with the length of the episodes made for the perfect
entertainment for someone on the go. The series is great for the
urban commuter in this regard and I think we will see this kind of
format repeated in most of the web series which follow GUIDESTONES.
The interactive portion is where the
real fun begins for me. Not content to just present a cool X-FILES
kind of conspiracy show in an innovative format, writer/director Jay
Ferguson has also built an intriguing Alternate Reality Game right
into the show for us. For those who aren’t familiar with ARG’s,
in GUIDESTONES there will be clues given on the show which viewers
can pursue after viewing the show online and get deeper background on
the world of GUIDESTONES and in many cases get ahead of the
characters on the show to some extent.
To support the ARG element there is a
bunch of original content that Ferguson and company have developed as
well as factual elements of history surrounding the Georgia
Guidestones and many of the conspiracies and secret societies
introduced in the series. It’s great watching the fiction and
reality blend so smoothly to make this narrative that supplements
the show so well. Not that you need to play the game or spend hours
hunting down clues to enjoy the show – everything you can find
online gets recapped in episodes of the show so you can choose how
deep down the rabbit hole you want to go.
The final point I want to make about
the show which makes it worthy of attention from indie filmmakers is
how GUIDESTONES is pioneering how web series get produced and funded.
Previously in Canada it was impossible to secure grants and other
funding for an original web series, everything had to be tied to an
existing series on traditional television to get any sort of
consideration at all. GUIDESTONES is changing all that by being one
of the first original web series to qualify for grants, which is
opening a really big door for future Canadian web series production
and showing the world that the time of the web show is arriving.
When I met Jay Ferguson at Toronto
Comicon this month we shared some really interesting discussions
about the show and about the overall future of film on the web. In
the weeks to come I’ll be posting our talk here on LONG LIVE THE
NEW FLESH but one thing we both agreed on was that the web series is
on the verge of making a major impact on how we watch shows. A
category for the web in a major awards show is not far off, so
congratulations to Jay and the GUIDESTONES team for delivering a show
that is really going to be seen in the DNA of what the web series is
going to end up becoming and that’s what is so exciting about this
time for the medium – anything can happen and everything is up for
grabs. There are no rules to doing it, it’s the wild west right
I strongly encourage you to go to the
website and sign up for GUIDESTONES. It’s a really well produced
series that is fun as hell to follow, especially if you get into the
puzzle solving and investigation on your own. My wife and I have been
having a great time together watching the show, chasing the clues
online and getting into the story. Sign up and join the experience at GUIDESTONES.ORG!
BLOOD AND BONE CHINA
What is going on over in the UK? Top
shelf indie horror is rising to the surface in the nation that once
ruled the waves and I can’t help but wonder if being the kids of
the Thatcher Generation is making them such experts in fear.
The 12 part series BLOOD AND BONE CHINA
from award-winning director Chris Stone and co-writer Stephanie
Cooper brings the vampire back to Victorian England and thankfully
sheds the sparkle so popular with the vampire genre these days in
favour of bathtubs of blood. Literally. The show isn’t just slick
with freshly drawn human Claret though, its production values and
performances are as professional as they come.
BLOOD AND BONE CHINA tells the story of
a young veterinarian who has come to the despairing Victorian city of
Stoke due to the untimely demise of his brother. It seems in Stoke
there are a lot of people who just...disappear. Fearful denizens of
the city are jumping at shadows and with good cause: a vampiric
menace is preying on the city and underneath the gilded veneer of the
polite Victorian gentry there is intrigue, lust and pure evil.
The show looks just fantastic. Doing a
period piece is really tough and I expected to see a show dominated
by narrow interior shots and bad rental costumes. What a surprise
then to see the episodes so full of lovely exterior shots which
highlight the historical beauty of Stoke and such detailed costume
and art design. Really helps with your immersion into the world they
are weaving together. I even liked the modern theme song for the show
and how it played against the 19th century setting, the
intro plays like TRUE BLOOD in bodices and top hats.
Much like GUIDESTONES, the funding
model for the show is fairly ground breaking as well. The sponsor of
the show is the actual city of Stoke-on-Trent (hometown of the
director) as part of their Stoke Your Fires tourism campaign and
features many local actors and crew talent. It’s a partnership that
has produced one of the nicest looking web series I have seen to date
with beautiful locations, costumes, camerawork and spot-on editing.
It’s really just the fact that I’m watching on my laptop rather
than my television and that the show comes in 10 minute episodes that
signals to me I’m watching an internet series.
Visit the BLOOD AND BONE CHINA website
and view the first episode. Vampire fans in particular should not
miss this series and those looking to graduate from Team Edward on to
some real bloodsucking action have something they can sink their
The web series is here folks and it is
only going to get bigger. Long live the new flesh!
Bloody Blogs -
Long Live the New Flesh
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