It’s undeniable – Jessica Rose, veteran of Lonelygirl15, Hooking Up, and Sorority Forever, is one of the hardest working stars in web television. But does her name carry a show? That’s the gamble 60Frames took when it signed Rose and film school stand-out, Eduardo Rodriguez, for it’s new serial thriller, Blood Cell.
The premise is standard thriller fare – Julia (played by Rose) is woken in the middle of the night by a mysterious cell phone call – only this time, the call isn’t just audio, it has video too. Onscreen is her friend Susan, crying and obviously quite upset. She’s been kidnapped by a disturbingly grotesque thing (think Saw’s tricycle riding clown and you wouldn’t be far off), but there’s a catch: Julia can’t turn off her phone – if she does, her friend dies. The text message she receives moments later only confirms the worst: “Dead Cell = Dead Friend.”
The series, in development since at least November of 2007, features New Zealand-native Rose in each episode. Episodes reportedly cost $5,000 a piece to produce, and with 18 episodes in the can, plus promotional and other costs, the total series budget is most likely well over $100,000.
Rodriguez, notorious for having landed a three picture deal with Dimension Pictures before graduating from FSU in 2002 — lends genre credibility to the show — his film, Daughter (2002), was one of the first student produced shorts to be selected for the Cannes professional short film category. His reputation is only slightly marred by the fact that the only feature to surface out of the Dimension deal was Curandero (2006), which drew scant attention on the festival circuit.
With a sizable budget and all this star studded power behind it, Blood Cell seems like a sure thing. The buzz generated by the trailer alone, which was released on April 1, 2008, is enough to build a series (or two) around: In the last six months, it has garnered over 5.3 million views on YouTube (thanks in part to the opening shot of Rose’s derriere).
But, with all the hype, why hasn’t Blood Cell been released?
To help us answer this question, we talked to Brent Weinstein, CEO of 60Frames Entertainment, to find out when Blood Cell would launch. He couldn’t give us a firm date, but he would say that “60Frames had always planned on creating anticipation surrounding Blood Cell, so there is no delay per se, rather a ramping up as the company moves to finalize distribution partners across various areas and build excitement.” It’s expected that the company’s usual crop of partners — Bebo, Blip.tv, iTunes, MySpace and YouTube — will handle distribution.
In case they hadn’t considered it, with Halloween around the corner, now would be a great time to launch a thriller series. But Rose herself could be facing overexposure on the web scene this fall, especially with 5 days a week of Sorority Forever making the rounds, not to mention HBO’s panned Hooking Up experiment. Maybe web fans just need a little time off from their beloved starlet before she returns to the genre that made her famous. Only time will tell.