Exclusive Interview: Executive Producer John Cabrera Talks ‘H+: THE DIGITAL SERIES’
Known probably best for his work on the hit TV show Gilmore Girls, John Cabrera has recently joined forces with Bryan Singer (X-Men, X2, Superman Returns) and Warner Brothers to create, write and Executive Produce the highly anticipated digital series, H+ a new digital series for YouTube. H+ explores our relationship to technology and how it defines us as a collective people.
H+ is unlike any web series you’ve seen before. It’s a show designed just for the Internet and capable of being personalized by the viewer. You can actually watch the episodes in any order you wish, or just follow along with certain story lines. H+ is totally in the hands of you, the user!
John recently took the time to answer some questions about H+ and his answers about technology, the future and video games are just as thought provoking as the super-sci-fi-techno-driven-show he currently pens. Here’s what John had to say about H+
Bryan Kish – H+ really explores technology/social media and where it could possibly be heading, was this the genesis of H+?
John Cabrera – Sort of. I’d say H+ is more of an exploration of where technology/social media currently are. We already do have some of the technology featured in the series, just in its rudimentary form… in addition to that, technology and the network are so embedded in our humanity now, it may as well be under our skin. To us, this series is more about how our tools define us… how they are a part of us, and in some way already like organs.
Bryan Kish – Technology plays such a huge role in almost everyone’s life now, did H+ originally set out to be a dark satire of the current state of social media and Internet in today’s society?
John Cabrera – I don’t think you could write a story about the internet, much less the future of the internet, without poking some fun at the pitfalls. But we weren’t so interested in commenting on the good or bad of technology, no. I think the more intriguing fact is how we as a species have always been willing to pay the cost associated with progress. It makes us unique in the animal kingdom, right? We actually face off against the great risks of nuclear energy, genetic engineering, and sometimes we get hurt badly. But we always keep going. And we eventually make it to the other side. Is it perhaps that these hiccups are an important part of the larger story of progress?
Bryan Kish – What are some anxieties or fears that you have about technology or social media, either now or in the future? And do you think one day we will see a world not too different from the one portrayed in H+?
John Cabrera – I think we are definitely moving closer to a true merging of man and machine, and a world of interconnected implants is definitely not farfetched. We already have pacemakers with wifi. I think there’s a good chance that I’ll see something like H+ in my lifetime. I’d likely be an early adopter. That kind of technology doesn’t really scare me. As I said, it’s not much different than what we already have. Technological progress is accelerating fast, and as it does, our minds will need to be retooled in order to keep up. That may seem scary now, but by the time it’s here, it’ll feel as natural as getting a cell phone. So I don’t have many anxieties about technology. Identity theft in the world we live in today is scary enough.
Bryan Kish – Do you think the human connection or bond is somehow being interrupted or corrupted by the intrusion of technology?
John Cabrera – No, if anything it’s making that bond stronger. Video chatting with my mom over Skype is something I never could have done a decade ago. Many people develop deep bonds with those they interact with online, even if they never meet them in person. This is another theme in H+. What makes us human? Is it our bodies. Does the social bond require that bodies be present? Or is our humanity more than our bodies. I think it is. And I think that bond and human connection can happen now without bodies present. Or perhaps the technology is already becoming our new body. Which would affirm that it’s really just another vessel for our humanity… and in some ways it may even be better than our other body at helping us make those connections.
Bryan Kish – How difficult is it to get everything packed into these digital episodes when you have such a short running time?
John Cabrera – That’s the “big” question isn’t it. I don’t think our intention was to write miniature versions of TV shows. I think most webseries try to do that. They don’t have much money to create something that’s a half hour long so instead they create something with the arc of a half hour show but “pack” it, as you say, into a shorter format. For us, it was about telling moments in time and geography. Pieces to a larger puzzle. A larger story, that when viewed a certain way may actually have a narrative arc similar to longer formats we’re familiar with. But in their individual parts they don’t necessarily have those arcs. Many of them purposefully end at an interesting moment but not really a conclusion as would exist in traditional TV and Film storytelling. Writing in this way, was incredibly freeing… but it was also extremely challenging at times because you don’t really have that familiar structure to rely on.
Bryan Kish – Would you like to expand the story of H+ and see it turned into a full length feature or TV series?
John Cabrera – I think what we have here is less a story and more a story-world. The webseries tells one story in this story-world, and it tells it a certain way that we feel is best suited for the web. But absolutely there’s a feature somewhere in this world… and a TV series in there too. Perhaps a comic book. But I think they would be very different. For one, they would need to follow standard formats of those mediums, and for the time being we’re really enjoying sharing H+ in this particular way.
Bryan Kish – There are times when watching H+ you feel as though you’re actually in a video game, sadly, video games are often after thoughts and tend to get a bum rap in the “art” world, do you see video games crossing that bridge soon and finally being respected as a meaningful art form?
John Cabrera – It’s funny, as I was answering the last question I actually almost included “video game” in there. But I wasn’t sure if it would make sense in the context. I’m glad you say that, because I think H+ definitely has a video game quality. Keep watching the series and you’ll even see a small reference to that. Anyway, yes, I do think video games will one day be respected as a meaningful art form. In fact, I think certain games that we play today will be studied in school the way we study films, novels, paintings etc. And games of the future will be as diverse in story, setting, characters as the other forms of storytelling. The experiences will be as much thought provoking as they are thrilling. Some games will be more of one and less of the other.
Bryan Kish – What works of science fiction inspire you as a writer?
John Cabrera – Y the Last Man is probably the most inspirational piece of writing of the last decade for me.
Bryan Kish – And are there any future projects you have coming up we should be on the lookout for?
John Cabrera – I’m working on a few. One of them is actually the second season of H+, believe it or not. And I’m close to announcing another big studio project that I just started work on. A feature I’m writing.
Alien Bee would like to thank John Cabrera for taking the time to answer these questions and be sure to checkout H+ on YouTube!