Cool Viral Campaign: American Horror Story

I’m really liking this viral campaign for the upcoming series on FX, “American Horror Story,” which is created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Galchuk of Nip/Tuck and Glee Fame.

I know what you’re thinking: Wait, the guys from Glee are doing an edgy, creepy horror genre show? Can the guys from Glee actually SCARE us?

Which leads to this question, especially if you’re a writer…

What’s the story?

I want to know, too. And guess what?

They’re not telling us.

Which is really refreshing, in this media-intensive world of ours where every detail of a new show or film is leaked weeks or even months ahead of the release date. It’s exciting to know there’s a secret out there that the network is able to keep from the spoiler-riffic Internets and it’s great to see them focusing on the story as the most important aspect of the project.

In fact, they’re challenging us to guess the story, with a campaign entitled What is American Horror Story’s Story? They’re releasing short clips with creepy imagery that are definitely hinting at a pregnancy gone wrong and not hinting about a guy in head to toe black vinyl…

You’re challenged to post your guesses on their Facebook page and their Twitter page (btw, I have a new Twitter handle @StoryMapsDan so follow me.).

Okay, they are giving us a tiny logline: American Horror Story revolves around The Harmons, a family of three who move from Boston to Los Angeles as a means to reconcile past anguish.

Not much to hang your hat on, is it? So they’re going to keep teasing us until the premiere on October 5, and they’re adding an interactive element.

The second aspect of the campaign is a user contest named American Horror Story House Call

There’s one clip up now that looks to have been produced by the network as sample. Regardless, this one’s pretty scary and also kind of funny once you get past the jolt…

I’m not sure what they’re looking for in the applications, but it will be interesting to see what the winning clips look like.

Okay, I should get to the point now, right?

The reason I spotlight this campaign is to give an example of quality “new media” that can create new opportunities for screenwriters. As said by the billion dollar comedy screenwriting team I blogged about yesterday, one of the best ways to get noticed these days is to produce your own content. Webisodes, trailers and teasers can really open doors for you and get you reads and meetings.

In this case, this is a promotional campaign funded by a network and they probably used either in-house writers or hired it out to an advertising agency with their own talent, but their videos are still competing with every other video on YouTube, including yours! Comparatively speaking, these videos are not getting that many views. YouTube is still the Wild West and an (almost) completely democratic marketplace. Heck, one of my videos has over 15,000 views!

So go for it. Put on that vinyl gimp suit and hit record on the ol’ flip cam. I’m doing it as we speak!

Good Luck and Happy Writing!


Click to read excerpts

From the official press release for American Horror Story from the FX Network:

American Horror Story revolves around The Harmons, a family of three who move from Boston to Los Angeles as a means to reconcile past anguish. The All Star cast features Dylan McDermott (The Practice) as “Ben Harmon,” a psychiatrist; Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights) as “Vivien Harmon,” Ben’s wife; Taissa Farmiga as “Violet,” the Harmon’s teenage daughter; Jessica Lange (Tootsie, Blue Sky, Grey Gardens) in her first-ever regular series TV role as “Constance,” the Harmon’s neighbor; Evan Peters (One Tree Hill) as “Tate Langdon,” one of Ben’s patients; and Denis O’Hare (The Good Wife) as “Larry Harvey.” Guest stars for the series include Frances Conroy (Six Feet Under) and Alexandra Breckenridge (Dirt) as the Harmon’s housekeepers; and Jamie Brewer as Constance’s daughter.

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