Following a successful and headline grabbing Kickstarter campaign, and the subsequent up-coming film, Veronica Mars creator, Rob Thomas, has announced a web series centering around one of the more minor characters is also in production.
Creatively, a web series spin-off allows new plots and details to made to the existing canon that may not have fit into the original work. It allows for emphasis on a minor character or an exploration of mentioned event from the original work. From a marketing perspective it can drum up attention for the main body of work and keeps interest in the world and characters.
The web series itself is a popular format amongst creators and audiences alike and creators of traditional media have recognised this. With this in mind, we take a look at past web series spin-off were used effectively within their respective stories.
Pond Life (2012)
Airing in the week leading up to the start of the seventh series of Doctor Who, Pond Life gave Doctor Who fans a look into Amy and Rory’s domestic life in-between adventures with the Doctor, and the affect those adventures have had on their daily lives, namely the break down of their marriage. This was only one part of a large online presence of the show on the BBC pages and acknowledges the fans desire for more of their favourite characters on different mediums while also regenerating buzz around the up-coming season.
Assassin’s Creed: Lineage (2009)
This excellent example of promotional use of web series acts as a prequel to Assassin’s Creed II video game and was released in the weeks leading up to the game’s release in late 2009. It focuses on Giovanni Auditore, father of the protagonist of Assassin’s Creed II, and brings the action right up to the start of the game ensuring the audience/consumer is already immersed in the world and invested in the characters before the game has even started. It was Ubisoft’s first foray into filmmaking and received positive reviews for it’s production value and cast which also feature on the game itself.
Star Wars: Clone Wars (2003)
This award winning animated series that bridges the gap in narrative between Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith was aired simultaneously on the Cartoon Network and online. It bring the much referenced Clone wars to life, filling in detail about characters and events that couldn’t be fit into the films. It is interesting to note that this show is now eleven years old but even in 2003, LucasFilm understood the advantage of broadcasting the show online making it as accessible to as many fans as possible. With the end of the series coming two years later, the online medium was a natural avenue for them to go down. This is, of course , different to the others in that it is just one of the spin-offs of the film in a franchise that includes games, merchandise, novels, and web and television series as well as the original films themselves.
Little did any of us know that all these years later we’d be awaiting the release of the as-yet-unnamed Star Wars: Episode VII and it would be surprise if a web series or two was used as a promotional and creative tool leading up to it’s release.
The web is for everyone. It doesn’t care if you are a film, a TV show or a video game, the web series format lends itself to every narrative and is so accessible to viewers that it is no wonder successful creators are using it to add detail to their original creations. With the upcoming addition of the Veronica Mars spin-off, this a trend sure to continue.