Southern stars opposite Katrina Zbegner as sisters, grown apart over time and now facing unusual circumstances that forcing them closer than they have ever been. “Trust Me” is a 13-minute sci-fi edition of the series, this one penned by Creator-Director Tony Valenzuela, Southern and Streamy-winning writer Bernie Su. While most of the BBTV episodes thus far flirted with elements of science fiction as they played with horror storylines, this is first one to squarely embrace the genre and its requisite visual effects. And to do so, that meant upping the production budget.
That’s where Coca-Cola comes in, and more specifically its Paris-based Coca-Cola Content Factory headed up by Stafford Green who expressed interest after Valenzuela spoke on the interactive videos panel I led at SXSW this spring.
“For me this was just a cool opportunity to do something bigger,” Valenzuela told us of the encounter. “Here’s an opportunity to really following something through and not compromise production.” “He (Green) just asked ‘would you be open to shooting it in Georgia’ (where Coca-Cola is headquartered)?” The answer was yes, and the BBTV headed out to White Plains, Georgia for the week-long of physical production this past May.
“It’s the first time that Coke has partnered in this way to sponsor content in a non-media based way,” added Valenzuela alluding to the larger paid views campaigns that brands are known for. The only branding in fact is a short bumper at the opening of the episode, and no Coke bottles found their ways into the actors’ hands.
In terms of budget, Valenzuela and his team won’t reveal specific numbers, but he does admit this is his highest one yet. “This is the most expensive BBTV episode to date,” he pointed out, “But cost per minute is still significantly less than a huge branded entertainment series or TV show.”
New episodes of BlackBoxTV won’t all be brand-backed says Valenzuela, and will still follow the once-every-other-week release schedule.
There’s even a 24/7 live stream on Ustream from the BBTV channel, where some fans have gathered to discuss the latest episode. So far it seems to mostly be running behind-the-scenes loop spilt-screened with a feed from inside Valenzuela’s studio.
Bottom photo courtesy of BlackBoxTV. Pictured are Taryn Southern, Director of Photography Benji Bakshi and Creator-Director Tony Valenzuela.