If you’re a fan of the popular novel and film The Davinci Code, then you’ll definitely want to check out the first-ever interactive online thriller called Guidestones which launched in mid-February. Produced and distributed by Toronto-based companies iThentic and 3 o’clock TV, the 50-episode series (total running time of 120 minutes) was created and directed by Jay Ferguson.
Shot in Canada, the US and India, Guidestones combines scripted drama and documentary-style narrative. The lead characters, played by an all-Canadian cast, stumble upon an unsolved murder and discover a cover-up hiding a global conspiracy.
Once you sign-up at Guidestones.org, you’ll receive regular e-mails with links to new episodes or clues (via YouTube videos, websites, etc.) in “real-time” as they unfold in an on-demand timeline. Each episode takes you deeper inside the mystery of The Georgia Guidestones. I won’t ruin the plot but it does involve a Stonehenge-like monument and directions for rebuilding civilization after the apocalypse. Online viewers can solve the mystery, along with the main characters, in a race against time.
The episode e-mails are part of a “push” version and soft-launch of the show. Later this spring, viewers will be able to watch a 34-episode “linear” series online. The Guidestones producers plan to sell pay-per-download episodes, plus original content and songs produced for the show on iTunes.
According to Executive Producer Jonas Diamond, “Guidestones is attempting to create a sustainable, direct-to-consumer, interactive TV business model.” The Guidestones production team has partnered with companies like Samsung, Pizza Pizza and the Toronto Blue Jays to weave their brands into the storyline. These brands are also helping to promote the show via their social media channels.
“We focused on partnerships with brands that help to propel the story forward,” says Diamond. “For example, our protagonists use Samsung Galaxy tablets and phones throughout the story to search for clues – similar to how Sherlock Holmes used the spyglass.”
Although the original production was funded by the Independent Production Fund (IPF) and the Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC), the plan is to make Guidestones a completely self-sufficient business. According to Diamond, at least two more seasons of Guidestones will be produced if the new model works.
I highly recommend checking out the show. I’m already hooked after episode three and can’t wait for my next clue!