Conceived as a classic genre follow-up to the originating two-minutes interactive drama ‘Mazehouse.tv’ was an original production commissioned by Universal’s Sci-Fi Channel in partnership with the ad agency, HHCL.
It was written and designed as a paranormal investigation on the Sci-Fi Channel, set over five days during the Halloween period (of course!).
Sci-Fi (now SyFy) provided broadcast slots that were traditionally used as interstitial slots, with the idea that viewers would get their daily broadcast updates about the investigation at the supposedly haunted house in Sussex.
Since it was commissioned as an interactive drama, as well as watching the TV episodes, viewers could interact with the team and the production in general – read and comment on daily blogs, access live chats during seances, send SMS messages to questionnaires, access ‘live’ EMF monitors in the house, even download their own ‘spook detector’ to search for spectral emanations at home.
It was a blast from beginning to end.
There were many moments in this innovative drama that I’m proud of, but one sticks in the mind that illustrates the fun and the innovation of Mazehouse.
Along with Alice Taylor and Adam Schaub’s then company ‘Stor Entertainment’, we set up a ‘live’ chat after Episode 4, when viewers were encouraged to get online to join in a seance with Louise McMurray – the team’s psychic. Of course it was really us pretending to be the characters, typing out the seance lines.
Our ‘Scooby-Doo’ investigator characters – complete with Mazehouse.tv branded sweatshirts were:
- Steven Millington – Parapsychologist & Team leader
- Jon Ward – Sci-Fi Producer
- Louise McMurray – Psychic
- Jo Cargill – Technical Director
- Gary Mitchell – Systems Engineer
And here, across the series episodes you can see them in action.
We wrote it that tensions would build up amongst the team culminating in the final episode on Halloween itself – when ‘something’ would go terribly wrong, as you can see in this last episode.
Episode 6 – Mazehouse Live
We ‘cut’ the final broadcast (the ghost was well and truly in the machine by then), so viewers had to get online to see what happened to the team. Did they get out alive? This final clip was the ‘lost’ episode – available only to viewers who watched online.
As with two-minutes.com, Tobias Sturt, who wrote the script with me, has archived the original site for Mazehouse on Drupal, so you can step through the web creation at least, view the team blogs, read through on the mysterious history of Mazehouse and watch the six episodes via YouTube.
The whole production would not have happened without the support and brains of Ross Sleight, who was running the show at the digital arm of HHCL, who managed Sci-Fi account.
Thanks are due to Alex and Becky Wright who bravely donated their home for the duration of the production, to the director, Tim Usborne, to Tobias Sturt the writer, and to all the ghosts of the Mazehouse.
- 5 day interactive drama in realtime
- Web, LiveChat, downloads, TV, SMS
- Raised SyFy’s % share for peak viewing times
- Generated PR and awareness for Sci-Fi