It was only a matter of time before YouTube used its domineering online presence to transform into an authentic television medium. Launching this April on Friday the 13th is “BlackBoxTV”, a new online television station dedicated to our beloved genre. Moving away from independently produced content, “BlackBoxTV” is the real-deal folks, a genuine web-based channel that will be jam-packed with all sorts of horror goodness from scripted anthology shorts to a documentary-style visit to haunted location across the planet. The most exciting endeavor, though, is that Bloody Disgusting will be partnering on “Black Friday,” their weekly program dedicated to what’s new and cool in the genre!
Now that the “BlackBoxTV” initiative has officially been announced, Bloody Disgusting caught up with creator Tony E. Valenzuela and producer Anthony E. Zuiker (“CSI”) who both exclusively reveal what we’ll see in the coming year on the new station! Dig on the interview after the break and go join the 350,000 subscribed members here. Watch this spot for tons more in the coming months. BLOODY DISGUSTING: Can you tell us the origin story of how the two of you came to team up on BlackBoxTV?
ANTHONY E. ZUIKER: About a year ago, I was shown BlackBoxTV on YouTube. I was blown away by the quality of the storytelling, the visuals, as well as, admittedly, the viewership. We sat down with Tony and initially set about developing an anthology TV series based on the shorts. Right around this time, Tony approached us and said that YouTube was interested in him pitching a channel idea for their new Premium Content initiative. He asked if my company, Dare to Pass, and I would come on board and, of course, it was a no-brainer! We pitched our take and fortunately for us YouTube loved it and we received this really amazing opportunity.
Bloody Disgusting: Tony, you are one of the pioneers of horror and thrillers in the new media space on YouTube. What made you decide to jump into this world?
TONY E. VALENZUELA: For me it’s about Ray Bradbury, Alfred Hitchcock and my general love of short stories and scary tales. I decided to start making content for YouTube that I wanted to watch, and wasn’t already on there. I wanted horror, science fiction, thrillers that I could only get through classic TV and film. When I worked on my first project, “2009 A True Story”, I really became involved in the art of online scripted content, and from there I knew it was something that grabbed me.
Bloody Disgusting: What does this new deal with YouTube mean for scripted programming in general?
Anthony: I think we have a really amazing opportunity here. Our goal is to bring the same level of storytelling that you see on television and in features to the web. Thanks to YouTube, not only have been provided the means to produce those stories at an exceptionally high level but we also have a distributor who is interested and willing to provide that content to the masses. Tony started that with BlackBoxTV. Using little more than a 5D and favors, he’s built up a loyal following that any writer/director would love to have. And he did it with story and characters and concepts that connected to the YouTube audience. We’re looking to build on top of that foundation, expand the content a little bit, bring in high-level writers and directors, and say, here’s what web content can be.
Bloody Disgusting: Can you gives us an overview as to what the content of BlackBoxTV will be releasing when the new channel goes live?
Anthony: The bulk of our programming will be the return of BlackBoxTV, in the form of a series. It’s a new anthology genre series, containing horror, thriller and sci-fi, that we’re describing as “The Twilight Zone” set in the town of Twin Peaks. We’ll be premiering two of those a month. Once a month we’ll have a short film of the week in the form of Anthony E. Zuiker Presents. High-level writers, directors, stars coming in and delivering a new, fresh short film. Another show we have is called “True Stories,” a doc-style show that is an overnight experience where unexplained events have occurred, which will have both a live and edited component to it. “Black Fridays,” in partnership with Bloody-Disgusting.com, is a hosted show featuring what’s new in genre programming, from debuts of movie trailers, to video games, TV and more. And finally, a couple times a year, we’ll have a “Film Festival” style show where we premiere or highlight the best of short films, web series and more. As you can see, it’s a lot.
Bloody Disgusting: Tony, how does this new line of programming and original content differ from the BlackBoxTV that so many fans have learned to love.
Tony: I think the main difference is that we want to not only have the anthology series but really draw and support the genre-based stuff that Anthony and I love so much. Bloody-Disgusting is one of my favorite sites out there, so I feel very lucky to partner with them. Through our live “Hauntings,” we’ll get to go to some amazing locations like the Villisca Axe Murder House in Iowa. Dive deeper into narrative and anthology with the plethora of directors and talent that Anthony is bringing in for Anthony E. Zuiker Presents. Anthony has a twisted and awesome mind, and to work with him on a project like this is truly amazing. We also have an amazing production team working with us, including Carly Feingold, who had worked with Wes Craven for so long.
We are going to show YouTube and the world exactly what we can do with the medium. I honestly don’t see a limit to YouTube and I want to see how far we can push it. This is something very different. Not a cookie-cutter reality series, that fans of the genre can really sink their teeth into.
Bloody Disgusting: When can fans expect to see these shows go live?
Tony: Weekly programming begins April on Friday the 13th 2012. Leading up to that, however, we are putting out a series of prequels on the main channel, YouTube.com/BlackBoxTV, as well as a few live “Hauntings” fans can tune in to. Also, over at YouTube.com/BlackBoxTVExtras, we will have plenty of content going up before the April launch which will include casting news, weekly behind-the-scenes features, and production diaries. You won’t want to miss it!
Bloody Disgusting: Anthony, given dabbling in the macabre on the “CSI” properties, you aren’t a stranger to death and mystery. What can we expect to see from you and your Anthony E. Zuiker Presents label?
Anthony: Honestly, great stories – well told. We’re looking to have a little fun, toss in a little darkness and try and do something you’ve never seen before.