Hoodlum talks Secrets & Lies
So hush-hush is the identity of the murderer in Channel Ten’s upcoming psychological thriller Secrets and Lies, the cast didn’t find out who it was until it was time to film.
“I’ve gone through the whole gamut,” says cast member Diana Glenn, who was interviewed when she was still none the wiser. “At first it was exciting… I mean I’ve got a million different theories, and I’ll tell anyone who’ll listen. And then I got angry, I mean if [the killer] is me and I find out late I’ll be upset… it’s kept us sort of really engaged with the script… I think now I’m just resigned to not knowing.”
Secrets and Lies is a six-part series that tells the story of Ben Gundelach (Martin Henderson), an ordinary family man who one day, whilst out for a morning run, discovers the body of a four-year-old boy who lived in his street. It doesn’t take long for Gundelach to become the prime murder suspect, and as his neighbours turn away from him and his already strained marriage stretches to breaking point, Ben decides the only way to clear his name is to find the killer himself – a process which threatens to unearth the many secrets and lies hidden beneath the outwardly normal exterior of Blackwood Crescent.
In order to best explore the twists and turns of the series, Hoodlum has directed their skills in multiplatform production to develop a cohesive ecosystem of storytelling across numerous media platforms.
Hoodlum CEO Tracey Robertson says they wanted to communicate with the audience in different ways and also provide the opportunity for viewers to piece together the puzzle themselves.
“The way we kind of played it out is instead of doing a normal police investigation where the audience is with the cops [point of view], we wanted the audience to be with the main character as he’s being suspected. So your view point is constantly shifting between ‘is he guilty?’ Is he not?’” she says.
“So what we wanted to do then was something new with the online [component], so the online is all from the cop perspective.”
The result is a constellation of multimedia features – including webisodes, video character profiles and confessionals, exclusive content and discussion topics hosted on social networks Facebook and Twitter, and up-to-the minute additional content on Zeebox, which displays as each episode is airing.
Hoodlum Creative Director Lucas Taylor – who was in the writing room for the series from the beginning – spoke of the narrative value of the multiplatform features. “All through [the writing] process we plotted the web of the show, but we also plotted the web of all these other ancillary platforms and the clues and the stories that we want to delve into there and how we can have that set up, how we can have that payoff the whole time… basically it’s not an afterthought…we’ve woven that story across this entire suite of platforms,” he says.
However this isn’t to say you need to access every platform in order to make sense of the story.
“If you’re not watching the online [material] it doesn’t matter,” says Robertson. “It’s a really great storyline by itself. The TV [series] works completely well on its own, but all the other platforms play to the whole.
An example Robertson gives is an episode where Ben sees his daughter talking on the phone outside. The TV series doesn’t reveal what is said in that conversation, but audiences can access the content of that dialogue online.
“It’s for people who really want to go, ‘okay, let’s find out more,’” Robertson says. “Sometimes it’s voice recordings of phone messages or sometimes it’s high-end video, and the rest of the time it might be stills or dialogue. You know, it’s just kind of playing into ‘what are they saying, what are they doing, what’s going on?’”
Viewers can also access what Robertson describes as “lie detector videos” – online content where the characters are interviewed as if in a police interrogation.
“It plays out at the end of all different episodes and it might play off something [a character] has just said in an episode or play into something that’s coming up. For instance, it might just be something like Ben saying, ‘I love my wife, I’d never cheat on my wife. Why would I cheat on my wife? I have a great family.’ And then in the next episode you might find out he’s cheated on his wife – so it’s that kind of thing.”
Furthermore, the online content is interactive so audiences can choose whether they think a certain character is lying or telling the truth, generating a ‘water-cooler’ buzz on social media platforms and encouraging talkability and discussion forums in general.
But if you think reading this article has given you an insight to what may or may not happen on the show, don’t be fooled.
“Obviously there’s a lot of red herrings,” Robertson teases. “There are red herrings in every episode as well as with different characters… there’s plenty to keep people guessing.”
Secrets and Lies is due to hit TV screens next year.
The website will launch six weeks prior to going to air.
This article first appeared in IF Magazine issue #154.