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‘H+’ Cast, Crew Tout Digital Strategy

13 Jul, 2012 By: Chris Tribbey

(L-R): “H+” writer and creator John Cabrera and director Stewart Hendler at Comic-Con in San Diego July 13.

SAN DIEGO — Whatever you do, don’t you dare call an episode of “H+” a “webisode.”

Warner Bros. Digital Distribution’s original live-action series, executive produced by Bryan Singer (X-Men: First Class), will debut Aug. 8 on YouTube, with no announced plans for a DVD or Blu-ray Disc release. That doesn’t mean it’s anything as inferior as a low-quality, low-effort “webisode,” the cast and crew of “H+” say.

“This really is chapter one of quality Internet content,” said actor David Clayton Rogers (“Jane by Design”). “It unlocks what’s possible online. We’re still locked in on linear, traditional TV content, and this changes [that concept].”

The series has humanity — what’s left of it — wired into the Internet 24-7. Consumers have a chip injected into their bodies and tied to their nervous systems, allowing them instant access to everyone else plugged in. A virus turns the world upside down, killing a third of the world’s population. Cue chaos.

By releasing episodes via YouTube, Warner and the show’s creators are banking that the time is ripe for a different type of Internet content experience, with “H+” not being just high-production and high-brow, but also highly malleable.

“I think it’s exciting,” said actor Alexis Denisof (“Angel,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”). “If you want [to watch] it in scripted order, you can. If you want it chronologically, you do that. [The creators] realized what was cool about the Internet.”

Viewers can form playlists out of the episodes, organizing the story how they want. They can cut it off at any point, organize it chronologically, or begin and end the way it’s been released. It’s a first for any online series, Warner and show director Stewart Hendler (“Sorority Row”) said.

“Those who don’t want to think too hard can just hit play, but there are so many options,” he said. He’s in no way disappointed that, for now, there isn’t an “H+” disc in the pipeline. “I’d love to get as many eyeballs as possible, but it’s made for the Web,” he said. “The goal was to offer the Web something with high-production quality values.”

That much has been accomplished, as anyone who’s seen previews can attest. This isn't a YouTube cat video project. And by using a YouTube channel, “H+” can still offer the behind-the-scenes and other bonus content we’re used to seeing on disc.

“I think keeping it on the web is the way to go,” said actor Sean Gunn (“Super,” “Gilmore Girls”). “It’s so inventive to let viewers lead [the plot] how they want, let the story manifest itself.”

Show producer Jason Taylor (X-Men: First Class) does hope Warner eventually decides “H+” worthy of a disc release, but stressed that the Internet was what prompted this project in the first place.

“The ability to connect with the audience is truly unique,” he said. “The viewer has the power to see the story how they want. There’s a lot of curiosity about how it will work.”

It took six years for writer and creator John Cabrera (“Gilmore Girls”) to get “H+” realized, and now that it’s about to become available to the public, he admits he’s just as nervous as he is excited about reactions.

“The Web isn’t the baby brother for content any more,” he said, adding that another season is almost a given. “There’s more story to tell, and I know Warner wants to tell it.”

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