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Gemini Division: More Than Rosario

Gemini Division, a.k.a. that web show with Rosario Dawson, debuts Aug. 18th. Yes, it’s yet another sci-fi series, perfect for reaching that “niche” audience of web geeks and for integrating interactive storytelling in a sensical way. But in that regard, it’s a savvy production that may just draw a big audience.

This week we met Brent Friedman, executive producer and head writer of the show and a co-owner at web production company Electric Farm, and got more details on how Gemini will be released and promoted. We also shot a short clip with Friedman (embedded above) where he speaks specifically about the interactive features of the show and how they compare to Electric Farm’s last online effort, Afterworld.

Gemini will be released on and promoted on-air by the network. The first four of 50 episodes will be embeddable, said Friedman, as a sort of promotional aid. So not exactly the superdistribution we’d hope for, but better than Afterworld, which was scattered haphazardly on different platforms, including the doomed

Gemini stars Dawson as a detective living five minutes in the future who discovers and subsequently joins a mysterious organization called Gemini Division. It’s told through missives to her PDA. Friedman explained that during the production process the team shot a “slew” of extra footage with a storyline that’s parallel and additive to the main one, and that will be influenced by ARG-style fan participation.

NBC has also brought on the producer of the Heroes web site and a team of web writers to build out this interactive experience. That upfront investment isn’t something every web series can afford, but eliciting and fueling people’s obsessions with the show will be the ticket to turning Rosario Dawson-gawkers into superfans.

One other interesting thing that Friedman emphasized in our conversation is that Electric Farm ensures that its productions are profitable before they even start — in Gemini‘s case, via selling distribution rights to NBC and Sony and product integration sponsorships to Microsoft, Cisco and Intel. So even if the public evaluates the series by the number of views it gets or whether it gets picked up on TV, that’s not necessarily Electric Farm’s measure of success.

Friedman elaborated,

“One of the mantras going in in terms of when we developed Afterworld, when we developed Gemini, was: Let’s do what TV wouldn’t. Let’s not aspire to television. If somehow a version of this ends up on television, great, but we imagine this more as we’re incubating an intellectual property on the Internet. And if the story as we lay it out is so compelling that someone wants to see it as a TV show, let somebody buy the rights and do a large-budget TV show.”

6 Responses to “Gemini Division: More Than Rosario”

  1. @Liz – I really like the idea that viewers can in some way affect the storyline and I’m very keen to see how EFE manages the “illusion” Brent refers to in your interview. Having already shot their 250mins of footage, I wonder if they’ll get the cast and crew back in to do remedial footage or use non-acted scenes, i.e graphics etc.

    On our own indie project we shoot act-by-act (i.e. 4 episodes at a time) in order to incorporate viewers inputs in a ridiculous attempt at non-binary interactivity (like in American Idol … on/off). Puts the team on a mad treadmill but, hey, whoever said it was going to be easy, lol.

    Deleted: The Game

  2. Its so important for the interactive TV genre that Gemini Division puts on a good showing. This is the kind of innovative product that exploits the interactivity of the internet and changes the lean back viewing experience of traditional TV into something far more engaging. Its success would bring much needed attention to the indie interactive web scene.

    Signing Rosario Dawson is a great choice, a neo sci-fi plot is a great choice, the one gripe I have though is geo-blocking the show limiting it only to a US audience, I think its a cop out and a failure to fully embrace the internet. NBC, why get only half pregnant?! In mitigation, I suppose with a huge marketing budget, Gemini Division does not have to rely on viral distribution like indies do. And it probably has found revenues in international distribution.

    $1.75M is HUGE for the web TV world but my hope is that a nice chunk of that is allocated to marketing (and you can count Rosario’s paycheck in that) to bring attention to the nascent interactive web series genre … indies like ours will gladly ride this coat tail.

  3. YES! awesome. I’m glad they are specifically NOT shooting for a TV venue. It gives them more opportunities and widens their scope.

    I can’t wait to see how the ARG part plays out.

  4. Patty Masters

    I wasnt a huge fan of Afterworld’s animation style, but the writing and sound were great! thats what made it watchable for me. With rosario in Geminni i think you wont be able to take your eyes off it!

    also cant wait for all the interactive stuff – if they really pull it off