Variety recently caught up with filmmaker Stewart Hendler for a chat about his upcoming web series H+ and Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn. The Sorority Row filmmaker offers up some interesting observations about the web episode medium and highlights how his latest work could help make people think of Internet-created content on the same level as high-end television.
The days where a web-based series was little more than a cheap imitation of Hollywood films and television shows seem to be over. This new breed of episodic web content comes not only with a Hollywood budget (Microsoft dropped $10 million on the new Halo series), but a crew that rivals that of most cable television productions. It’s done by design.
Hendler tells Variety, “our bar was to compete with Game of Thrones or some of the beautiful, well-produced shows out there.” It was also to turn in a product that stood head and shoulders above the countless amateur videos on sites like YouTube.
“It's less about making something that can only live on the web and making a great piece of content that deserves to be something beautiful. Web content shouldn't be confused with poor-quality stuff."
While that might seem like a bit of a slap in the face to all of the amateur content creators out there (some of them do amazing work with a fraction of the resources at Hendler’s disposal), the filmmaker does have a point. As places like Hulu and Netflix enter the original content arena, there’s a need for more material than ever before. Creators like Hendler see this new avenue as a relatively unexplored frontier – and are eager to expand and conquer this new territory.
That pioneer spirit carries all the way through the production end, as well. “A lot of the rules and red tape and big machinery of studio filmmaking isn't yet built up" around web series, Hendler said. "There's more creative freedom to experiment and play." Of course, he goes on to explain that the added freedom comes with more responsibility as well – if a web project tanks, Hendler still shoulders a significant portion of the blame.
Swing by Variety to check out the full conversation – but first have a peek at the trailer for H+ and a teaser for Forward Unto Dawn, which really does look like something you’d see on cable television or maybe even in a theater. Expect more about Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn later today, when the official trailer debuts as part of Microsoft’s Comic Con presentation.