Warner puts the face in Facebook social series

Warner Bros on Thursday will unveil a web show from Charlie’s Angels director McG that seeks to create a new genre the studio calls a “social series” by taking pictures, music and information from a viewer’s Facebook page and putting it in the video.

The series, Aim High, marks one more way in which Hollywood’s studios are trying to engage younger audiences on social media websites that have become competition for films, TV shows and other forms of entertainment.

Aim High, which will debut on October 18 and run for six episodes, stars Jackson Rathbone of Twilight fame as a high school student turned government operative named Nick Green who goes on weekly, top-secret adventures.

While Green’s tale will feature action — McG’s other film directing credits include Terminator Salvation and he was executive producer on TV’s Nikita — and Rathbone is a key draw, the real star is not the actor. It is you.

“The show becomes personal,” McG told Reuters. “Music that the characters are listening to comes from your playlist, pictures on the walls, TV screens and picture frames inside the show are from your profile.”

Aim High uses computer programs to access a user’s profile from which to draw material.

For instance, as Nick performs his spy duties in his high school’s hallway, he may pass a poster for a class president candidate and the picture on it is you. Or, the end credits might have photos of your friends when listing Nick’s spy accomplices.

McG raves about the show’s writing and acting — “for the first time you have quality of storytelling, production value and talent that go into it at a network or cable television show or arguably a movie” — but calls this new interactive technology “the breakthrough component”.

“You’re detached when you watch a show on FOX or NBC or when you go to the movies,” says McG. “This experience is more intimate.”

Thomas Gewecke, president of Warner Bros Digital Distribution, said that what separates Aim High from other web series is the Facebook component.

“You’re tapping into why Facebook is so popular, which is the experience of creating your own personal profile.”

Warner Bros expects the series to do well among women between the ages of 14 and 34, due in no small part to Rathbone’s popularity stemming from the Twilight romances.

The company’s President of Home Entertainment, Kevin Tsujihara said they are already looking forward to creating more social and interactive original web content. “We’re working with McG to explore other ways to make this even better for future digital productions,” he said. — Reuters

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