Aim High is the new web project from producer McG (of Terminator Salvation). The series, which debuts on Facebook on October 18th, follows the life of a high-schooler who tries to get the girl of his dreams while he moonlights as a government spy in constant danger. The element that makes Aim High unique is that it will integrate personal details from each viewer’s Facebook profile into the world of the show as part of the experience, making it interactive.
The series also boasts a surprisingly strong cast — Jackson Rathbone of Twilight fame, Aimee Teegarden (Friday Night Lights, Prom) and Greg Germann (Ally McBeal) among others. The actors had plenty of experience in film and TV, but for most of them it was their first time doing anything web-based.
I had the opportunity to sit down with the series’ leading actors recently, and they had a lot to say about about their experience with new media and movies. “It’s a scripted show. We’re all starting to watch things differently. I’ve only had my iPhone for five months. When I first heard that you could watch movies on your phone, I thought I could never do that, but now I do it all the time. It’s funny how you adjust; you put your earphones in and you have a great time”, said Greg Germann, who plays vice principal Ockenhocker.
Aimee, a veteran of the popular Friday Night Lights, explained how she came into Aim High. “I auditioned, I read the script and got the break downs about what they were planning on doing with it. Technology is something I’m passionate about, it’s changed so much in my lifetime alone. I love the idea of doing a social series.”
When talking with Jackson Rathbone I had more of a chance to discuss the project, the implications of the social and technological aspect of it, and his personal connection to Aim High.
EyeCrave: How did you get involved with the project?
Jackson Rathbone: Wonderland, which is McG’s company, told me about the web series aspect of it. I’ve been interested in doing a web series, but especially something a little different, that utilizes integration technology, where you can be involved in the show, and see yourself in it. Once we were finished with it, we presented it to Facebook and they loved it.
EC: I think this is sort of revolutionary.
JR: We’re breaking new ground.
EC: Web series seem often branched off from TV, but this is different.
JR: It’s an hour long, if you put it all together, it could be a film. It’s almost like a BBC television show in a sense. It’s a long story line. This isn’t a show where we clean the slate after every episode–it’s an over arching plot. It’s exciting, new media and the internet are like the Wild West; I’ve always been kind of a cowboy at heart. It’s exciting to be involved. It’s a ground breaking show, and we’ll see many more shows like this.
EC: Are there any similar projects in your future?
JR: Yes. We have some other ideas in the works for other shows. We want to further that, and possibly do a season two of Aim High. We would like to, hopefully. If we can do that, we have some interesting and cool ideas of advancing the integration further.
EC: How so?
JR: Oh, I can’t really talk about it. I really am just fascinated by technology. I’m not a techno-savvy guy, but my dad was an engineer, so I know things that aren’t computers. But you come up with these ideas, if you can dream it, they can make it. It’s really all about outside-the-box thinking.
EC: How has this been different from the movies?
JR: It is different. It also felt very free. Warner trusted us to make what we wanted to make. They wanted it to be kind of hands-off. We were always having fun on set, even if it was stressful. We lost an action sequence, because we wanted to make it in 9 days–it was really sad. But we still retained the two big ones. I think you have more freedom, but at the same time, the risk factor is much higher. If we hadn’t been able to get the aesthetic quality of Aim High to the level of a network show, Facebook wouldn’t have taken it.
EC: Could you tell us a little about your character?
JR: Nick Green is a high school student that doesn’t really fit in, since he’s an operative for the US government. He doesn’t know his place in life, because he has these special abilities, and he has this huge secret he keeps from the world. At the same time, he kind of feels like a hero then kind of feels like a killer…he doesn’t know what to feel. He’s that high schooler that we’ve all been, trying to find his way. He’s got the girl he loves…she has a boyfriend. But he’s really awesome at his job.
EC: Do you connect to Nick in any way?
JR: I was always the new kid. My family traveled around. I’ve always felt like that. The ones who always accepted me first were the oddballs. Nick found a friend in this guy Marcus, and they have this weird friendship together–they are both the kids who no one else wants to talk to. They don’t have that much in common, but that ties them together. I didn’t really fit in growing up, but once I found art, that was my place.