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TORONTO — William Shatner is betting his animated webisode series The Zenoids is the next S#*! My Dad Says.
His plan is simple: just as with the Twitter-based CBS comedy, Shatner will produce The Zenoids as an animated online series to launch on his social website myouterspace.com. The veteran actor then hopes an initial four webisodes being produced at Montreal’s Oasis Animation will spawn a TV series or feature film. And to get there, a cloud-sourcing Shatner will use his online community on myouterspace.com to make collaborative scripts and music for The Zenoids, and eventually take that fan base to an interested studio or TV network, whether in Canada or the U.S. markets.
“We will take the 12.5 million people who have approached myouterspace.com so far and get them involved in the making of a series, whether by voting which way the plot goes, or the music, and we will get public approval for the project,” he explained. “And we think that ensures us an audience for a sci-fi TV series, or a movie,” Shatner added.
The Zenoids is also packing some professional expertise. Oscar-winning music composer Michael Giacchino (Up) is on board to help judge music submitted by fans for The Zenoids, including the opening sequence, and score the online series. And sci-fi novelist Alan Dean Foster is writing the feature script for The Zenoids. “The webisodes provide the stock for the soup of the film that Alan Dean Foster will write,” Shatner explained.
And Amanda Tapping, who has a co-starring role in The Zenoids and will executive produce the online series, after already executing the Internet-to-TV migration with Syfy’s Sanctuary, a Canadian-made sci-fi TV series. Tapping and fellow creators Damien Kindler and Martin Wood in 2007 produced eight broadcast-quality webisodes that eventually made it onto Syfy.
It turns out that wasn’t the plan, Tapping recalls. “We went into the project quite naively believing we could live and thrive on the Internet, and not go to TV, not that that was a bad thing as we were speaking to our fan base that live on the Internet,” she explained. The problem was monetizing the webisodes. “They were an abysmal financial failure,” Tapping said of the original Sanctuary webisode series.
But that was then, and this is 2011. “The pump is better primed for a web series to make a splash. In four years, things have dramatically changed,” Tapping said. Shatner agrees. “We’re seeking ways to encourage people to join in our social network and be a part of our community. And when you do that, you get ad revenue, as well as making shows that would be saleable to networks and cable companies.”
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