Anthony Zuiker, creator of “CSI”, discusses the making of his new web series “Cybergeddon”

In a world where everyone is connected, everyone is at risk, warns an official press release of “Cybergeddon”. The alarm raised by the warning was diminished somewhat, however, in the several failed attempts to connect to Anthony Zuiker, an executive producer of the web-series.

The feature-length web-series comprising nine parts debuted on Yahoo! recently in over 25 countries and 10 languages. Directed by Diego Velasco, the film features Missy Peregrym as Chloe Jocelyn, a cyber-attack investigation agent and a white-hat hacker, and Olivier Martinez as Gustove Dobreff, the head of a cybercrime ring. The plot revolves around Jocelyn, who has been falsely charged with a crime, and her efforts to defeat Gustove in his quest to control the Internet. She teams up with hacker Rabbit Rosen and her ex-boyfriend Frank Parker to clear her name and crack the case.

The growing threat of cybercrime, which is an umbrella term for all types of “illicit activity on the Internet ranging from the circulation of viruses to phishing and identity theft,” forms the subtext of the film. But given the varying levels of Internet penetration across the world, is the threat of cybercrime really so severe?

“As part of my research I consulted with the FBI, CIA and NSA, and they universally concurred that cyber crime is on the rise. With ‘Cybergeddon’, we are taking a global position that technology is going to embrace the world. We are shifting as a civilisation, and the future of crime is going to be electronic,” Zuiker answered, after the conference call finally went through.

Zuiker has previously created “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation”, an American crime drama which since its launch in 2000 has spawned spin-offs such as “CSI: Miami” and “CSI: NY” and become one of the most successful franchises in television history. Over 500 episodes have been produced, which have reportedly been aired in nearly 200 countries. So what necessitated the move from a successful model to the unpredictable platform of the Internet?

“After the success of ‘CSI’ we broke a lot of ground on television. But ‘Cybergeddon’ was made as a way of committing to the future of storytelling. I am a big proponent of technology and decided to bypass theatres and television to ensure high levels of interactivity,” explained Zuiker. In keeping with his commitment, the producers have launched apps and games that dovetail into the film’s narrative.

To lend credibility and technical insights to the narrative, Zuiker also consulted Symantec, the makers of Norton AntiVirus. Explaining the collaboration, a spokesperson from Symantec said, “We discussed details of the types of crime and hacking and how Symantec fights it. Symantec’s role goes beyond launching products; we inform people about cyber threats in very real ways.” But while Symantec and Zuiker are committed to the cause, the film itself contains far from subtle instances of product placement (of Symantec), which take away from the seriousness of the message.