Last week, Mark Cuban posted a web series link on his Google+ page with no kind of info beyond the following: “And here is eps 2 of The Vault.” That begs the questions, how did Cuban become involved with this original web series and what exactly is The Vault?
I’ll answer the second question first. The Vault is a online original program about a fictional TV game show. Not much of the story has been revealed (there’s only two full episodes live and online, along with a handful of teasers on Youtube and the show’s website), but perhaps the level of mystery is what makes this show so appealing to Cuban and viewers.
In the pilot, we follow contestant Henry as he conference calls with the other nine players in the Vault to help them solve puzzles. However, Henry and the players quickly discover the Vault is a bigger challenge than anyone expected. By the end of the pilot, we know there are at least 150 rooms in the Vault – each with a character and a puzzle to solve.
The program is a product of co-creators Aaron Hann and Mario Miscione, who met through a mutual friend. The pair bonded over their love of LOST. When the show ended they decided to fill the void with a project of their own. “There’s a lot of comedy on the web and not much drama,” Hann said in an interview. “We want to make a show we want to watch. And we know there’s an interest.” The Vault was born.
For two guys creating a show about questions, Hann and Miscione easily answered how Mark Cuban invested in their project. “We always had respect for Cuban. I was watching him on Jimmy Kimmel one night. He gave out his personal email. We were really proud of the pilot, so I sent it to him around 2AM. Later that morning at 9AM I checked my email and he responded! We had a back and forth and next thing we knew we were partners. It was pretty fast.”
Now that the deal is finalized with Cuban and HDNet’s blessing, Episode 2 is online and Episode 3 is in production with an air-date set for October. It’s possible that an integration into HDNet’s programming schedule will settle into place soon, too.
Easily the most impressive part of The Vault is that the production team consists of only Hann and Miscione. The set of The Vault’s “contestant room” is Miscione’s living room. “Actors first come [to set] and are shocked,” said Hann. With the high level of production no one would expect the two person production team.
Hann reads lines with actors, Miscione works the camera, and they co-direct. “We have to do more than the average director,” explained Hann, “You look at the water room [in Episode 2] and someone had to go to Costco to pick it up.” While the small team allows Hann and Miscione to have complete control over the project, it does make the process slower than the average web series (but the release between the pilot and second episode was abnormally long during the negotiations with Cuban).
So, what’s been the biggest change since the pair signed their partnership with Cuban and HDNet? “More support from our parents,” said Miscione with a laugh. Hann added, “We definitely have mom approval now. They love [Cuban] from Dancing with the Stars.”
But what about the production of the show? “Our goal was to see if two people could commit and make a show they loved,” Miscione said, “We won’t change just because the deal happened.” In fact, the only major change to production since the duo inked the deal is the acquisition of a new camera accessory. “We bought a spare battery for $50 bucks,” joked Hann. The pair still makes their prop trips to Costco and Home Depot, but find the experience necessary to maintain full control on their project and keep the mysteries of The Vault secret.
Speaking of those mysteries, Hann and Miscione were very tight lipped. “People think they’ve solved it already, but we haven’t even asked the questions yet,” laughed Hann. It’s clear that Hann and Miscione have no intention of spilling the secrets of the show too early. However, they do promise that everything in The Vault has a purpose and plays a part in the overall puzzle (unlike the show that inspired them).
Miscione gave a final bit of reassurance for those playing along at home: “Sooner rather than later you’ll get the questions that you’ll get the answers to in the finale.” If you want to solve the mysteries on your own, be sure to check out The Vault.