Reservoir Hill is KHF’s Emmy Award winning flagship streaming drama. It premiered in October 2009 on TVNZ On Demand, New Zealand’s pre-eminent broadcast website and freeview channel.
A dark and atmospheric drama with an exciting and innovative new level of interactivity, Reservoir Hill is propelled by a mystery concerning the identity of a young girl - Beth Connelly.
Along with missing her friends, boy problems and the separation of her parents, everyone around Beth seems to find her unsettling. Beth discovers she is the spitting image of a girl who went missing a few months before. This sparks a whirlwind of intrigue as she strives to find more out about what is really going on in Reservoir Hill.
What set Reservoir Hill apart was the level to which audience members could interact with the story. Viewers played the role of Beth’s friends. They were able to drive the story forward with the ability to SMS text advice to Beth when she gets into a sticky situation. At the end of each episode, viewers then had the opportunity to text Beth via their cell phones or the website itself and then (thanks to some very clever technology) actually watch her receive their personal message – in the actual movie – seconds later within a bonus scene. The viewer effectively became a character in the final scene of each episode as well as a potential catalyst for the direction of the plot. Beth Connolly had her own web identity too. Fans could leave her messages and Beth responded to as many as she could and she also uploaded a Video blog each week in which she reflected on how her life and explained her thoughts to her fans. This gave the opportunity to really explore the world of Reservoir Hill and get an idea of Beth’s headspace in a more candid way.
What made Reservoir Hill additionally unique was the fact that a new episode and video blog was written, produced and released each week of the series. KHF creatives took the advice given by the viewers (via text and web submissions), and the next stage of Beth’s story was shot in time for the following week. That meant that the story grew organically in real time and each episode was genuinely directly affected by the viewers’ suggestions. Beth referred to specific advice she has received from her friends in her Vlogs and viewers could then see how their guidance affected Beth’s actions in the episodes. The fact that each episode was written 48 hours out from shooting not only allowed the writing team to incorporate viewer feedback, but topical events and news as well.
A first for the nation of New Zealand, the show was an unqualified success. After it’s 8 week run it rated as the third-most popular programme on TVNZ’s Ondemand service. There are over 100 shows available on this channel, so Reservoir Hill represents a considerable achievement for all involved as well as being a boon for Telco sponsors that partnered KHF Media on the project.