New or recycled perspectives on extraterrestrial life will always be the fascination of sci-fi producers everywhere. Aliens and UFO sightings continue to capture the imagination, and as web series begin to evolve and boost production value, a quality story can be told on the web, directly at the targeted audience of sci-fi geeks and conspiracy theorists whom are already there. The latest series aiming for this audience is RCVR, a new X-Files type of show coming from one of YouTube's top channels, Machinima. But while its show structure seems aimed at The X-Files, its marketing is pure Lost. This is an extremely good blueprint to launch your web series.
Science Fiction Web Series RCVR From Machinima
The first episode of the show has a good hook, one you might have seen before, but perhaps not in a web series. RCVRs are people who have been communicated to by aliens, possessing knowledge about things like complex math that they did not before. We follow a "RCVR-hunter" played by Daniel Bonjour, a character that seems very intent on finding "the truth," which may be extremely familiar to those of you who remember Fox Mulder. However, he has a bit of skepticism to him, he's not ready to believe every story, so he's a bit Dana Scully, too.
He interviews an older couple about an alleged UFO sighting, and he works to try to debunk the story any which way he can so that he can better find the truth. He says, "99 out of 100 times, it's a ball of lightning." Which then begs the question, "What about the hundredth time?" We get an answer.
The show comes from writer/director/producer David van Eyssen, who was notably involved with the BMW: The Hire series, one of the first big names in branded web content released in 2001. Van Eyssen was a creative consultant on the series, which had name writers, directors, and stars. Here's a blast from the past:
RCVR Follows The Viral Marketing of Lost
At the end of the credits, there are links to five other websites that add to the mythology of the news series. The first is www.sigma-agency.org, an official-looking government website. SIGMA is the evil government entity trying to keep the truth away from us normal folk. But hey, their website doesn't seem evil. Take a look at FAQ section, though. Lots of vague answers. What are they trying to hide, anyway?
This is the type of website that grounds a sci-fi series in reality, even though it's not real at all. It just adds to the mystique, that the fiction is based on something that actually happened or is happening.
Acting as counter to the SIGMA agency is www.projectrcvr.com. With the very serious "Alvin J. Peters, Ph.D" running the site, he's collecting all the "classified" videos you were never meant to see, including this one:
The site also collects all the other UFO videos that are already on YouTube, to reinforce the "evidence."
But what about other places in the world? Do they believe in the UFO phenomenon? Well of course, there's www.theywalk-amongus.co.uk. When you go there, you see some of the same bits that are on the projectrcvr site, and it has its own format and information.
Then there's a history of UFO sightings complete with pictures at UFOpedia.com. This site doesn't necessarily look related to the show, but it offers even more evidence and background. And finally, there's another one called anomalyapp.com, which I can't access for some reason. Maybe it's supposed to be mysterious.
This is the kind of marketing J.J Abrams and his crew did for Lost and Cloverfield. Sites that add to the mythology, look official, often don't look in any way related to the show itself, and they often contain Easter eggs. All of those sites combine to make a show an immersive experience, making fans active participants.
RCVR, Corporate Sponsorship, And Possible Concerns
Helping out with the bills is Motorola Mobility, which is RCVR's exclusive sponsor. We've seen web series do this before as a great way to help with the ever-problematic cash flow that seems to cripple so many promising new shows.
Season 1 will have 6 episodes, which is pretty standard for any new web series out there, but there are concerns. Take a look at the comments section and you already have someone saying, "Yeah, but Machinima will probably abandon this show after 6 episodes and you'll never see it again." We've discussed this many times before in relation to web series, that consistent content has been a problem. The only thing you can really do here is to see the amount of work that is going into making this series something that matters. It would be hard to believe that if this series is in any way a success, that this amount of work would go to waste on just one season. As always, time will tell.
Here's the first episode of RCVR:
New episodes will be released every Wednesday.