UTA was one fo the first major Hollywood talent agencies to recognize the need to sign the emerging crop of online stars, grabbing Fred star Lucas Cruikshank, Ask a Ninja, and the SMOSH trio years before the other tenpercenteries got hip to it.
This proactive move was driven mainly by its upstart UTA Online division and a whole class of former staffers like Barrett Garese (now at Blip.tv), Jason Nadler Jon Zimelis and other former-UTA’er like Mike Farah (now at Funny or Die), Max Benator and Dan Weinstein (now at The Collective Digital Studio) who now have branched out all over the digital entertainment side of Hollywood. The latest to set up shop are Nadler and Zimelis who teamed up with BestWeekEver and WonderWall founding editor Alex Blagg to launch their own production company, Serious Business.
There’s a playful, tongue-in-cheek nature to their new shingle, evidenced by the WSJ-style HedCut drawings of the three partners (above) and kitschy Venn diagram to explain just what it is an internetainment firm actually does. I talked to Nadler and Zimelis on the phone today to find out more on their announcement of an initial funding round from Brave New Ventures.
“Video is going to be paramount, there’s an evolving moment here,” Nadler told me. “Is video on the web going to be what we’ve seen from web series of late, with short episodes? We don’t think so. We want to be producing video that rivals television broadcast quality but made for the web.”
But Zimelis pointed out they aren’t running out and signing up talent just to have them. “We’re not trying to build a representation business or do what The Collective or Blip are doing,” he added. “That said, we’re bullish on YouTube—it’s forum where talented artists and voices are emerging.”
One of their first announced clients is Cheezburger Networks, home to FailBlog and recently-acquired Know Your Meme, who the pair had also worked with at UTA Online. (Cheezburger is also still repped by UTA’s Brent Weinstein.)
“We’re really excited about our relationship with Cheezburger Networks,” Nadler added. “They have a top 5 YouTube channel (failblog) but have’t developed any original shows for it. We’re also developing a TV property with them.”
“We want to work with the most original voices emerging from the web that we feel have the potential to develop into other media properties and platforms,” said Zimelis about what kind of talent they are looking to work with. He also noted traditional celebrity talent that is just now starting to establish their online footprints.