Writer-director and Pittsburgh native John Harrison is headed to England this summer to film a supernatural thriller he created. "Residue" will be released as a Web series.
Mr. Harrison, who grew up in Oakland and Oakmont and now lives in Los Angeles, is no stranger to scaring audiences. He began his career working with George Romero, directing several episodes of Mr. Romero's "Tales From the Darkside" TV series, and was director of "Tales From the Darkside: The Movie." Other credits include the TV series "Leverage," "Tales From the Crypt" and the miniseries adaptation of "Dune" and "Children of Dune." In 1996, he returned to Pittsburgh to film the TV movie "The Assassination File," which starred Sherilyn Fenn.
U.K. film production company Matador Pictures is producing "Residue." The series will be cast using British actors, with Alex Garcia directing.
"Residue" is set in a large unnamed city where a mysterious catastrophe occurs. A section of the city is evacuated and is now known as the Quarantine Zone.
Young photojournalist Jennifer Preston begins to investigate the quarantined area and discovers evil manifestations known as Paramentals. When Jennifer disappears, her sister Miki comes to the city to look for her and becomes caught up in the mystery of the Quarantine Zone.
After writing "Residue," Mr. Harrison thought it would work as an extended TV series. Matador optioned the script and asked him whether he'd be interested in doing it as a Web series. Web-only series are "an area that's really exploding," Mr. Harrison said. "People are paying a lot of attention to it. People are going to consume media this way more than anything.
"What I like about this is the limited series concept. Cable has had such an influence on all of us across the world. People are much more interested in almost novelistic television. You can create a series of 12 episodes like 'Breaking Bad' or 'Mad Men' and they have a season-long arc. They have a limited number of episodes to tell a whole story. I came out of the miniseries world, so I love this approach narratively."
The series will be filmed in to-be-determined locations in the U.K., and computer-generated imagery will be incorporated into the live action. "It's an international city that won't be identifiable as either North America or the U.K. It will be one of those out of time, out of place locations. It could be anywhere in the world."
"Residue" differs from the trend of post-apocalyptic worlds that dominate movies and TV today, Mr. Harrison said. "The world that I'm looking for is very contemporary and very much like the world we live in today. Something has happened to this city. The catastrophe that released these toxic elements has left an open wound on the city's psyche."
If it's successful, Mr. Harrison hopes that it could evolve into a regular TV series. "The world we live in is not segregated much anymore in terms of movies and television. When people are thinking about a project, they're thinking how can this project transcend all media -- TV, movies, Web series and novels -- and do them all simultaneously. I'm hoping that this Web series will generate enough interest and we can talk to a network."
Each of the two seasons of "Residue" will have 12 episodes that will run around 10 minutes each. While the end of the second season will solve some of the mystery and answer some of the questions, it also leaves the door open for future seasons.
Shooting is scheduled to start late in August or early September. No release date has been set, but Mr. Harrison hopes to finish the project by the end of 2013.
Adrian McCoy: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1865.