A couple of days ago the new Warner series H+ launched on YouTube as part of Google’s $100 million Creators initiative. That means Warner and Google are hanging out for returns. The budget according to the LA Times was a mere $2 million but that’s a lot higher than most web TV efforts so far.
H+ was produced (Bryan Singer The Usual Suspects / X-Men: First Class), directed (Stewart Hendler “Sorority Row” and “Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn”) and stars, Hollywood talent. So does that make it a breakthrough moment?
That’s a different issue from whether or not you think Google TV or Apple TV is the better service or whether you use X-Box to access Netflix. It seems to me anyway that this is a longer term battle. What’s always been missing is a genre of movie that is good enough, well enough produced, smart enough and of the times to make Web TV more than a distraction, to create an artistic base for it that can grow.
Competitor Yahoo has taken the mid-ground with products like Burning Love from Ben Stiler’s production company. The New York Times suggested that the real reason to watch it was for the showcase it gives it actors. And that sense , that actually the Web is really about giving people a shot at acting and directing still dogs the genre.
H+ might change that. Along with Bryan producing the cast includes Alexis Denisof (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), David Clayton Rogers (Jane by Design), Sean Gunn (Gilmore Girls). Maybe not stellar, you might argue, but there’s enough in H+ to sense that experienced, creative people are taking the chance on the web that stars took on HBO a decade or so back. And after all is said and done about technology platform, the quality of the content will move this genre.
Creator John Cabrera tries to put it in context. When I asked him had Web TV as an original content format begun to take off he responded:
“We haven’t gotten there yet but we’re closer than we’ve ever been. Where we are now has little to do with the content. It’s the hardware that’s holding it back. If you had YouTube or Hulu on the remote control, letting you find the content from your couch then you’d see it really take off. As this happens we will see the massive shift we’ve been talking about for ten years.”
Though shot in Chile, the action spans five continents, 13 geographic locations and 15 major characters. Cabrera says what makes it a web product as distinct from boiled down TV is the fact that you can view it primarily from the perspective of one character or even one location. The viewer in that sense can shape the narrative. But it’s the involvement of Hollywood experience that Cabrera believes will make the difference to Web TV. “It’s that experienced eye that knows what the public loves and how to create that Hollywood magic that drives pop culture.”
He’s keen to highlight the importance of that experience inside an experimental project. “Every one is a pioneer here No-one knows how to do this yet. The level of experimentation is very high.” I hope they’ve got it right. We need break through creativity to go alongside breakthrough technology.
The plot? Humans are implanting chips into themselves that allow them to access the Web 24 hours a day (when you become the connection, I can see your updates all the time), but when somebody creates a virus and people start dying ….