Last July, Hollywood’s United Talent Agency, internet-based television advertising company Spot Runner, and $3.5 million from investors came together to announce the creation of 60Frames – a type of independent, new media ministudio in the vein of Super Deluxe, My Damn Channel, For Your Imagination, and Next New Networks whose original programming will be distributed to all the YouTubes, MySpaces, Veohs, and Blips of the web, and other digital platforms that play video.
According to Brett Weinstein, the former head of UTA’s online division who holds the reins to the agency’s joint-venture, the idea behind 60Frames is to give talent the financial, production, marketing, and distribution resources necessary to “bring exciting new projects to life in an environment that provides artists meaningful profit participation, ownership, and control of their intellectual property…By partnering with the leading online sites, we are giving artists’ content the widest possible exposure while maximizing revenue opportunities.”
Like other web studios, 60Frames is taking the spaghetti approach to content creation. They’re greenlighting more ideas than they would for bigger budget projects, and producing up to five installments of comedy and up to 20 episodes of a drama before they see if the program is sticky enough to pay for more.
They’ve cooked up a whole lot of comedy so far. Some series will have fans pleading for seconds, and others will flat to the floor.
Cockpit – Big Fantastic
The Big Fantastic foursome of Chris McCaleb, Ryan Wise, Douglas Cheney, and Chris Hampel (the same crew that created Prom Queen and Sam Has 7 Friends) shot the first five episodes of Cockpit in the very same cramped space once occupied by Peter Graves and Kareem Abdul-Jabar for the high-flying comedy Airplane. The pilot episode relies less on the characteristic puns of its predecessor and more on the awkward, sexually-ambiguously-charged interactions of the crew, but it’s just as funny.
Black Version – Jordan Black
Black Version is the double entendred title to one of two 60Frames series created by former Saturday Night Live writer, Jordan Black. It’s the comic’s take on scenes from classic cinema reworked from a Chapelle-like Africian-American point of view. The best part about the above is the ridiculous Jodie Foster impression. It’s not that the rest of the short isn’t funny, it’s that her Southern drawl is captured that well.
Phake TV – Jordan Black
The second series created by Jordan Black is a quick, vulgar play on Punk’d that raises the stakes of pranks to a mortal level and makes me wonder why more people haven’t played on Suge Knight. Making fun of that “Sugar Bear” is funny.
Erik the Librarian – Brent Forrester
Written and directed by the Emmy-Award winningwriter, Brent Forrester, who has penned episodes for The Simpsons and The Office, Erik the Librarian follows the mishaps of a dorky bibliophile with a pension for prose who doesn’t know how to use his inside voice. Despite a cameo from Mindy Kaling, the episode was still a little stale, though I can easily see becoming attached to Erik’s unsociable idiosyncrasies as the series progresses.
GILF – Wendi McLendon-Covey
I love Reno 911! and Deputy Clementine Johnson is one of my favorite parts, but when Wendi McLendon-Covey does the same aloof yet overbearing shtick as a 37 year-old grandma, it doesn’t work. Part of it’s because the MILF genre of comedy is pretty played out. If t-shirts exist that are derivative of the same pop culture meme as your idea for a new show and funnier than the show’s premise, I’d try to come up with a show about something else.
Douchebag Beach – The Post Show
The Post Show duo of Bob Castrone and Brian Levin, plus familiar face Jason Zumwalt, make up the threesome of New Jersey bling, hair gel, and cheese behind Douchebag Beach. Anyone who’s familiar with Manhattan’s bridge and tunnel crowd will enjoy this play on the gibrone stereotype that teeters between being a bit too over the top and near-perfection. In fact, aside from the thong confusion, it’s probably not all that dissimilar from a lot of what happens on the actual Jersey Shore.
Who What Wear – Katherine Power and Hillary Kerr
The moving picture version of Who What Wear Daily actually quietly launched in December. Like What Celebs Wear, the site is like a fashion tabloid that cares less about who’s sleeping with who and more about what clothes are crumpled up in a pile next to their beds. Fashion savvy site creators Katherine Power and Hillary Kerr host the well-produced, personable show that tells viewers what’s in, what’s out, and what works.
A new studio system is emerging within the heart of Hollywood. It’ll be interesting to see how it progresses and super cool to watch more of the content it produces.