image source: Vogue magazine
It is incredibly inspiring that the passion project web series High Maintenance, which has been in the works for over three years and is co-created by husband and wife duo Ben Sinclair and Katja Blichfeld, is being picked up by HBO. On 4/20, HBO announced it is ordering six new episodes of the smash series as well as making all 19 current episodes available on HBO and HBO platforms HBO Go and HBO NOW later in the year. CNN’s Frank Pallotta noted, “The announcement is testimony to the increasing power of web content and its ability to sway established players such as HBO.”
Just this fall, MediaSilo covered High Maintenance becoming Vimeo’s first original series. In 2013, the first 13 episodes were hosted for free. Then in June 2014, Vimeo announced that it would provide financial backing for six episodes for Season 2 to be hosted on Vimeo on Demand. In an official statement, Vimeo said Season 2 has since become “one of the all-time top-selling releases for Vimeo On Demand.” In an interview, Sinclair and Blichfeld said they are excited about bringing their labor of love to HBO: "We have been growing this show organically for three years now, and we are elated to bring it into full maturity at HBO.”
In an interview with TechCrunch, HBO said this is the first time they have acquired a web series in this way. HBO programming president Michael Lombardo said, “High Maintenance has proven to be one of today’s most highly acclaimed online comedies . . . We are thrilled to bring this sophisticated and clever series to our HBO audience.”
Laura Bennett of Slate expressed her hope that an HBO budget will not change the series’ unique brilliance: “...it’s hard not to feel a twinge of trepidation that HBO could ruin exactly what makes this show so good.” So far, the show has earned a WGA Award for episode 113 in the category of Short Form New Media, as well as critical acclaim from Entertainment Weekly, Time, and the New Yorker.
In a January 2013 interview with Luke Kelly-Clyne, Sinclair explained, “Because we didn’t want to spend a lot of money, things just took a lot of time to incubate, to edit. It was cheaper because I was doing all the editing but it took a long time, like a really long time, but we didn’t stop until it was perfect for us.” The full interview, which covers the duo’s start in the industry, can be seen here.
As web series become more popular -- Fusion just announced five new web series to be released on SnapChat -- and distribution models continue to change in order to meet online content demand, this announcement of High Maintenance's success will help young filmmakers aspire to succeed and continue their creative endeavors. The show sets the bar high for web series and is easy to get hooked on.