By Sahil Patel
“Backpackers,” a web series originally developed by Shaftesbury US and Smokebomb Entertainment for CW Seed, will soon climb up the ladder to The CW Network. The teen-focused TV network has picked up a half-hour version of the show, which will begin airing this summer.
“Backpackers” was part of CW Seed’s launch slate when the digital-only studio was formed last August. The show tells the story of an engaged couple, Ryan and Beth, who embark on separate European adventures before their wedding. While traveling, they are free to act single — but that only lasts for a few hours, before Ryan realizes he’s made a mistake and sets off on a search to find his fiancee.
For Smokebomb, the digital division of production company Shaftesbury, the deal with CW TV marks a significant milestone — the first time a show produced by the division will air on US television.
In a similar vein, it’s also the first show to move from web to TV for CW Seed, which was created, in part, to incubate digital projects that could have a place on the network — a more cost-effective way to pilot things than the traditional method.
“Since launching last year, one of our missions for CW Seed was for it to serve as an incubator for new talent and new ideas,” said Rick Haskins, EVP of marketing and digital programs, for The CW. “We are continuing to look at CW Seed for other possibilities to transform content and for creative new ways of doing business.”
The TV version of “Backpackers” will run for 10 episodes. The first four episodes will just be a repackaged version of the original web series, which spanned eight 12-minute episodes. The remaining six will be comprised of all-new content, to be produced, written, and shot exclusively for The CW network.
“Backpackers,” the web series, was created by Jay Bennett, Daniel Dales, and Jarrett Sherman, and produced by Smokebomb in association with The CW, with help from Canada Media Fund and Bell Media. Executive producers included Christina Jennings, Scott Garvie, Shane Kinnear, Tom Mazza, and Maggie Murphy.
When the TV show begins to air on CW, CW Seed will launch “The Real Backpackers,” a companion travel series hosted by Annie Unnold. In the show, Unnold will travel to the locations featured in the “Backpackers” and showcase the best places to eat, drink, and party in that area.