Peter Hirshberg and Tim Kring

Kring: I’ve been involved with TV for 20 years now, and I’ve told stories in a very linear and flat way. TV has had trouble holding its audience, so the networks are interested in tying online and offline.

Hirshberg: With Crossing Georgia you tried to do new media?

Kring: It jsut didn’t feel like it was an authentic extension of what the show was. It’s a quest to stay relevant as your audience is going away. So it was built-in from the beginning with Heroes, and that’s the whole idea behind transmedia storytelling.

Hirshberg: Compare the Heroes poster vs website. The birth was Star Wars Holiday Special.

[rolls clip]

Kring: So in the middle of this thing they run this cartoon, with Han Solo and R2, C3PO, they start to interact with Boba Fett, at that point there were probably several million 13-17 boys who is this guy and why is he talking to these characters I love? Next they started pushing the action figure, and it becomes the most fascinating thing for all these people, this strange character from outside the Lucas canon. 3 years later when he shows up in the sequel, millions of people had a personal experience with his appearance.

Kring: About three months before the show launched on TV we launched it at ComicCon, and from that an incredible viral movement launched and the early adopters went on the website, it became a phenom even before it launched.

Hirshberg: 30 years later history repeats itself, there’s a character that you built offline and then shows up on the show one day.

Kring: Hannah Gilman, the basic transmedia idea, to run concurrently with the show a series of online comic books that would carry on from where the show leaves off. And the she shows up in the show. For the fans who had been accessing the online content it was an incredible easter egg to have found. it gets to the psychology of transmedia, you get more social currency as a fan of the show, you dig deeper into the canon and mythology of the show.

Hirshberg: The NBC ad folks put together a promo of everything that was going on off-TV to say we’ve got you covered like with the Olympics. With so much canon, how do you balance people who are really into it and not confusing casual viewers.

Kring: It’s always been a challenge, we’ve tried to keep everything as additive. We want to use every part of the buffalo, in a way, nothing is wasted. If a character disappears on the show, he or she can live online, and vice versa.

Hirshberg: Part of the idea behind the show is that we’re all connected.

Kring: I started to realize how vast this online community was. The real underlying message of the show was interconnectivity and global conciousness, the fascination for many people was this connection to the message, it would be criminal not to use this tech-savvy and connected audience

Hirshberg: Here’s how a car company worked themselves into a show.

Kring: In the first season we were looking for a sponsor for the pilot and we got Nissan to do it, we came up with the idea of weaving it into the show. Our show is fairly expensive, and we need help, it’s our way of supplementing the budget of the show, and if the conversation happens early enough and we can start to weave it in like with the Nissan Versa.

Hirshberg: Shows Pinehearst commercial.

Kring: The idea of authenticity is very important, we’re connected to our fanbase by a very thin thread. Everything that is put out to the fans has to come from the writing room, during the strike there were some things put out like A Benjamin Franklin hero that electrocutes people.

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