Last night at the "Breaking In Again" panel at the Writers Guild, a number of podcasters and webisode writers/producers/directors spoke about the future of what is now called "New Media" but will soon be known, we imagine, merely as "Media."
Mary Feuer, former head writer at lonelygirl15 and currently the writer/director of the "With The Angels" web series, premiering soon on Strike TV, talked about creating content that stretches beyond the video frame. Characters on lonelygirl15 had mySpace pages for their fictional selves. They created a website, rich with layered content, for a pharmaceutical company mentioned in the storyline.
Very recently, it was a groundbreaking idea to create an illusory reality online, reflecting the fictional world inhabited by TV Characters. Now, it's almost de rigeur to at the very least have a Barney's Blog, if not a whole Dunder Mifflin website. (Which I assume exists. Wait a sec.... Yep. It sure does.)
Which does create interesting creative challenges. Who blogs for the characters? Who vets those blogs to make sure they don't violate canon? The Official Network Website for a show I worked on recently had bonus content on it that was written by the PR department, using an old show bible and outdated pilot script -- the material was wildly off base.
Does the potentially infinite nature of this material create a barrier to entry at the same time as it creates an enhanced experience? Ideally, this additional material makes the story richer, and creates an interactive thrill for the participant who follows the trail and finds all the Easter eggs. But are there viewers who feel daunted by the mass of links they'd need to follow to become fully versed in a work of fiction, and back off?