Conspiracy 365: 24 meets road movie

Since the runaway success of franchises like Harry Potter, Twilight and The Hunger Games, both Hollywood and the publishing industry have been driven by blockbuster stories that are targeted at teens but appeal to the whole family. It’s taken awhile, but 2012 is shaping up to be the year that local television finally catches on to the trend.

The Family Movie Channel's Conspiracy 365 – based on the bestselling series by Gabrielle Lord – is dubbed by executive producer Linda Klejus as a cross between a road movie and 24.

“All drama is evolving in a way, because of the HBO model,” says Klejus. “Film and TV production values are blurring.”

With a $13 million budget, Conspiracy 365 is the most expensive subscription drama series ever made in Australia.

The series follows teenage fugitive Cal Ormond, who is hunted by both sides of the law as he tries to discover the reasons behind the mysterious death of his father. Warned at the beginning of the first book that he must survive the next 365 days, each of the twelve installments is named by month. The show, which stars young AFI award-winner Harrison Gilbertson as Cal, follows the same format – one episode airs each month until the end of the year.

Despite the young age of the lead character, Klejus is adamant that this is not a kid’s show. “Children’s drama is aimed at the under twelves,” she says. “And there are so many restrictions – how much violence is seen, how relationships are shown, how bad the bad guys are – that you end up with really sweet, saccharine drama.”

Conspiracy 365 hopes to appeal across multiple demographics, in the manner of popular UK series like Merlin and Doctor Who.

“As the audience fragments and everyone goes off into their niches, family drama appeals to the broadest possible demographic and brings people together,” she says. “Once people see it – this primetime thriller where the lead character is a 15-year-old kid, I think they’ll start to look at this area.”

Klejus’s production company Circa Media has also worked closely with entertainment company Hoodlum to create a multiplatform strategy – a “completely immersive experience,” which features webisodes, games, puzzles, news reports and a video blog from the main character.