Dell—-yes, the computer company--is making a TV series. Director Robert Stromberg's (Maleficent) fantasy is What Lives Inside and stars Colin Hanks (who eerily recalls his famous father the more he grows), an Oscar-fresh J.K. Simmons, and the beloved Catherine O'Hara.
The story is of a less-than-imaginative man who inherits the workshop of his puppeteer grandfather, and finds himself transported into a magical world of wonders where he will have experiences that blow his little mind.
Dell calls this a "Social Film," a term not to be confused with films about social issues, which is how that term is also used; but here, "social" means social audience engagement. "Submit a sketch of your creature and it could make it to the big screen" Stromberg asks. That's the social component. Their website already has a gallery of amazing drawings that look more like they were done by professional illustrators; not amateurs with crayons, which pulls a little shade over the idea that ordinary viewers, kids, and dreamers could see their creature come to life. The greatest commercial element however, is that Dell's new mini-tablet is integrated into the series.
Companies feel that to call their branded content "branded" and "content" keeps the fragrance of commercialism too close to their project. Of course, the first "branded content" were soap operas--so called because they sold soap. Today, branded content is often "branded" as a "long commercial" by todays sophisticated viewers and unsophisticated YouTube commenters.
All that aside, and despite some inelegance on Dell's part, this trailer looks quite good! The animation is beautiful, the acting is top notch, and the story looks fun and mysterious.
"What Lives Inside" premieres on Hulu March 25.