Ruby Skye P.I. expands user experience for second season

The passing around of real books among audience members is one of several strategies to both market the series and extend the story world.

Web series Ruby Skye P.I. has found a second season.

And with the new season, series creator Jill Golick is looking to enlist online viewers with a traveling library and other materials related to the tween web mystery series.

It’s all part of the new interactive and transmedia elements, what Golick calls “world-building sites,” for the second season, The Haunted Library, whose production began this week in Toronto.

Golick says she consistently adjusts her mindset from that of creating for traditional media and tries to see everything through fresh eyes when creating for the web.

“With TV, [professionals are] very siloed – ‘we’re the creative people, and we make the creative thing.’ As soon as you move on to the web, your creative mission expands to include both marketing and business,” Golick tells Playback.

Meeting those marketing and business challenges becomes an integral part of the creative process, she says, adding the storytelling takes on an even more important role in growing the audience and also generating revenue from the audience.

One such element that Golick says incorporates both an interactive and marketing strategy is the Ruby Skye P.I. travelling library. It is a collection of books, labeled and numbered, to be given away at publicity events and through contests, that users can read, inscribe and pass on. Other users, upon receiving one of the books, will be able to go online and track where the book came from and follow its route.

The second season, financed by the Independent Production Fund and the Ontario Media Development Corporation, stars Madison Cheeatow, Marlee Maslove, Elena Gorgevska and Kevin Gutierrez.

Joining the cast this season are Scott Beaudin (My Babysitter’s a Vampire), Rosemary Dunsmore (Road to Avonlea) and Geri Hall (This Hour Has 22 Minutes).

Set in the fictional O’Deary Library (the University of Toronto’s Emmanuel Library), the second season follows Ruby (Cheeatow) tracking ghosts and hunting for a lost will in order to save the building from being torn down.

Continuing with the themes of literacy and books from the first season, The Haunted Library will reference popular young adult books throughout the 12-episode story arc.

Online, a virtual O’Deary Library will be a site built with user-generated kids’ book reviews, and puzzle-lover and library “owner” Mrs. O’Deary (Dunsmore) will have a micro site with puzzles and games.

And, as a brand extension, viewers can continue to participate in Hailey Skye’s (Ruby’s little sister) do-gooder ways. Last season, in a previous brand-extension, she launched a Ban the Bottle campaign to ban plastic water bottles, and users were able to pledge environmental friendliness and sign a petition on via the Ruby Skye site.  This season, says Golick, viewers will be able to make donations online through Hailey’s site for her latest mission to raise money for Plan’s social movement campaign Because I am a Girl.

Additionally, as Ruby finds clues throughout the season, viewers will be able to solve them via the web, to unlock additional information and content between episodes.

The series is distributed on several video platforms, including Ameba TV,, Daily Motion, DigitalChickTV, Koldcast.TV and YouTube, and Golick says on the revenue side, she is working with the platforms to maximize ad revenue strategies for each particular platform.

And since Golick has seen teachers using the series in the classroom, she says another potential revenue source could be facilitating sales of the series and providing additional teaching materials.

Golick says that while there are challenges to creating web series – namely, that there is not a guaranteed business model of success on which to build – the space resets the framework of traditional production, and lets creators offer kids a kind of entertainment that they’re not finding on television.

“So much of what we’re doing on the web, we’re making it up as we go along. We have an incredible community of people who are creating original material for the web,” she says.

“There are so many options now that I think it’s so cool that we had our first production meeting, and we had marketing and digital [staff] at the table. These are not things that you have normally, and all our streams have to be working together from the very beginning,” she explains.

“Those guys who are working in traditional media are encumbered in some ways by the old model, which expects a certain behaviour from them and is all financed [in a particular way], whereas [with web series] we don’t have a rulebook, but what we have is a freedom to find the best way to do it,” Golick says.

Ruby Skye P.I.: The Haunted Library is produced by Golick, Andrea Nevitt, Kelly Harms and Steven Golick, with Kelly Harms directing.

The second season is slated to launch this fall.