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.”