Heroes of the North is transmedia entertainment about Canadian superheros. Created by independent filmmaker Christian Viel, the project illustrates a move away from feature films towards the creation of a broader storyworld told across episodic, interactive, multiple media.
In classic superhero genre, Heroes of the North tells the story of superheroes coming to the rescue of the country in its hour of need against two terrorist organizations, one local and one international respectively called New Felquists and Medusa.
The entertainment is delivered across a 15 video webisodes, 4 comic books, a serialized novel - in the form of a diary from a superhero called Nordik (shown in the clip) to be delivered at 3 pages a week - and an online game that crosses adventure gaming with a first-person shooter. There’s even collectable superhero figures and story-themed pen in the style of a syringe! (pictured)
The idea that an indie filmmaker could create his own Hollywood-style franchise would have seemed unbelievable just 18 months ago but today not only is it possible but it’s fast becoming a necessity. As the Internet continues to reduce the cost of digital distribution and copying – destroying old revenues and business models – so it is enabling new forms of content and demanding new business models to support them.
For the most part, Heroes of the North is free to view online and open for sharing and copying. For those who subscribe to the mailing list there are bonus episodes revealing new characters and expanding the story lines of characters in the regular webseries. The free video distribution builds viewership and a collection of faux websites and Facebook pages for the heroes and the terrorists provide opportunities for audience participation in creating new storylines, talking to characters and solving puzzles. Indeed the sites seek active recruitment of support in fighting or encouraging crime allowing the audience to role-play in this fictional world.
A four-week alternate reality game (ARG) is currently being designed to increase audience engagement with the storyworld and kickstart the web series. A second series is already being discussed.