Portal A announces nine-project slate for $500,000 Moonshots venture

By 10/16/2023
Portal A announces nine-project slate for $500,000 Moonshots venture

Portal A has revealed nine projects it is developing as part of its $500,000 investment in experimental content. The digital-savvy production company is backing an eclectic mix of digital programs through the Moonshots program it introduced this past February.

Several of the projects in the Portal A slate will utilize emerging technologies like AI and short-form video. Nightmare Fuel, for example, is a TikTok series that will combine horror stories with AI-generated audio and visuals.

By embracing experimentation, Portal A’s Moonshots unit is taking the company “back to its innovative roots,” according to Portal A Director of Original Projects Jacob Motz. As the leader of the Moonshots program, Motz is looking to recapture the core values of a company that once produced global video game contests, upside-down cooking tutorials and shot-for-shot remakes of ABBA music videos. (Portal A also produced the year-end Rewind videos alongside YouTube.)


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“We approach this program like creative R&D, allowing our full team and creative partners to participate and experiment with fresh formats that we can bring back to our work,” Motz said in a statement. “We are harnessing our deep understanding of internet platforms and audiences, our strength in developing new entertainment formats, and our relationships with a new wave of creative talent to bring this program to life.”

Portal A’s willingness to bring creators’ bold ideas to life is what led to the launch of the Moonshots program in the first place. In 2018, the content producer piloted its ambitious programming initiative by working alongside YouTubers like Mike Diva and Alexis G. Zall. The resulting projects, including Zall’s Maybe Today, Satan, “opened the door for Portal A at forward-thinking short-form platforms like Snap Originals,” the company told Tubefilter back in February.

The latest slate of nine projects will span multiple platforms, including TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube. The topics touched by those projects will be similarly eclectic; subjects will range from psychedelic therapy to collegiate debate teams to Asian-American snack foods.

Here, via Portal A, are details about all nine of the projects included in the Moonshots slate:

  • Bella Sims Needs A Life: Olympic swimming champion Bella Sims has a singular goal  – winning swimming competitions at the highest level. In becoming an elite athlete, she’s had to miss out on some of the most exciting aspects of teenage life. In Bella Sims Needs A Life, we watch as Bella takes back those lost moments in a 2-week takeover of her Instagram.

  • Marshall Will Pick You Up: In this interview series for YouTube, Goldman Sachs banker turned Gen Z venture capitalist and entrepreneur Marshall Sandman interviews high-profile friends and public figures as he drives them home from the airport. The first episode features TikTok megastar Noah Beck.

  • Family Trip: A short film following a family in conflict as they embark on a psychedelic healing journey, featuring an expert psychedelic facilitator to guide them safely through therapy. Director Sean Dunne’s previous work has been featured at Sundance, Tribeca, and garnered tens of millions of views online, including American Juggalo, Oxyana, and CamGirlz.

  • Nightmare Fuel: A short-form TikTok series that mixes horror stories with hallucinatory AI visuals and audio. #NightmareFuel elevates what #NoSleep and CreepyPasta did for online horror to new levels through hyper-creative visuals and audio created by AI apps mid-journey, RunwayAI, and Eleven Labs.

  • More Than Half: Struggling with questions of identity and societal expectations, “More Than Half” is a documentary that follows filmmaker (and in-house Portal A director) Ashley Czerniewski as she explores her Polish family origins and her own multi-racial background, while seeking answers to the missing piece of her own identity: her Black biological father.

  • Frequently Used: In this 10-week TikTok series run, social media psychic Dina Laweena uncovers hidden truths by exploring people’s most private information: their most frequently used emojis. The series uses a mix of TikTok live, man-on-the-street interviews, and duet collabs with other astrology-based creators. The series features Director/Creator Eyal Resh (Ask Dr. Ruth) and creator Dina Silva.

  • Daytona 500 of Ice Fishing: Directed by Portal A’s own Jackson Adams, this documentary short uncovers the personalities behind the midwest’s oddest celebration and the world’s largest ice fishing competition where 10,000 people descend on Gull Lake outside of Brainerd, Minnesota for “The Daytona 500 of Ice Fishing.”

  • Debatable: Bringing civility back to online arguments, the top-rated collegiate debate team from Western Kentucky takes opposing sides on the topics, trends, and memes that are defining internet culture. This series embraces the lightning fast news cycle of the internet by turning around episodes in a 48-hour window. This series is produced in partnership with Western Kentucky University.

  • Tasting Notes From Our Childhood: A design-forward Instagram channel built to celebrate Asian culture through a nostalgic exploration of quintessential Asian American childhood snacks. Yakults, broken pocky sticks, and seaweed snack crumbs inspire personal anecdotes about their emotional and cultural significance to the individuals who grew up eating them. Created by Portal A’s Angela Chang and Karen Janssen.

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