DAILY NEWS: Reelshort Redo; Eveo Gets Director at Gersh
by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE
>> Reelshort Becomes Hypnotic; Company Relaunching as a "New Media Film Studio"
(indieWIRE/ 10.10.00) -- At a press conference in New York today (Tuesday), Reelshort.com Founder & CEO Jeremy Bernard will announce a re-launch of the company and its site, under the new brand, Hypnotic. Redefining itself as a "new media film studio," Bernard will also unveil Hypnotic's plans for the Hypnotic Million Dollar Film Festival and its new "Filmmaker in a Box" project.
The company indicated yesterday that it is "deepening" its relationship with Universal Pictures, the Hollywood studio that invested in Reelshort earlier this year. With a "broader vision," Hypnotic is positioning itself as an outfit that will nurture emerging filmmakers with content created for its own site as well as theaters, TV, video and other offline outlets.
The move is consistent with the company's own plan since it partnered with Universal earlier this year, according to Jeremy Bernard. The founder told indieWIRE yesterday that he views Hypnotic as a "studio within a studio," adding, "We have the ability to push the envelope and be experimental but at the same time we have the resources and the safety net of the larger studio." Universal maintains what Bernard described as a "large minority stake" in his company.
"Universal's production and distribution resources allow Hypnotic to attract a new generation of filmmakers, while Hypnotic provides us consistent access to those emerging artists," commented Universal Pictures chairman Stacey Snider in a prepared statement yesterday. "Artists and audiences will be drawn to Hypnotic because of the quality of the work, the clarity of the vision and the innovation in its presentation."
The name change and new look may read as a rather subtle development, given that it does not seem like a shift in Reelshort's agenda from the past year, but after a glance at the new Hypnotic site (www.hypnotic.com) it is clear that the company is adopting a flashy new image. An electronic soundtrack and a new animated logo greet visitors who are invited to check out the various channels: action, animation, comedy, documentary, drama, experimental and thriller. The new site is a bold step forward from the company's previous effort and certainly distinguishes it from competitors in the space.
Despite the major online facelift, Bernard was quick to note that their new site is just a part of the overall brand. Hypnotic intends to target the aforementioned offline outlets and opportunities.
At a time when the entertainment industry dotcoms are reeling from recent high-profile failures in the space (Pop.com, DEN and Pseudo), Reelshort and Universal are obviously re-staking their claim with the debut of Hypnotic. The company indicated that it will launch a "major marketing and advertising campaign" nationwide next month, a push that will include print and radio ads, according to Bernard.
"The message is that we're clearly in this for the long haul," Bernard explained, "We are strong financially and our partnership is strong and is working." Continuing he added, "We have been moving along nicely in our growth pattern." Bernard indicated that the company currently has 31 employees, with an intention of growing to 40 by the end of the year.
The Hypnotic Million Dollar Film Festival, which will be detailed at today's announcement, is now seeking submissions. It will award one winner a budget of up to $1 million for a new feature film. The winning project will be given a distribution deal, via both on and offline channels, by Universal and Hypnotic. The Festival is accepting entries through November 9th, after which up to 25 semi-finalists will be selected to screen on the Hypnotic site. Site visitors will select 5 finalists and a winner will be announced in Park City, UT during the 2001 Sundance Film Festival.
Another initiative being unveiled today is the "Filmmaker in a Box" project, in which director Jessica Bell is shooting footage of passersby from a Manhattan window display. She will be living in a display window on the corner of 68th & Broadway nearly 24 hours each day for the rest of this week. Bell will shoot footage and interact with people on the street and another filmmaker will also capture her experience in the window -- ultimately yielding footage for a short comedic documentary. Bernard added that the company has leased the window space for six months, joking that he may move his own office into the display for a period of time.
Hypnotic remains committed to acquiring new short films for its site. An announcement on the new website indicates that the company currently has a library of 160 films, with a plan of adding up to 100 new films to its archive every six months. Bernard did not dispute the numbers, but indicated that internal goals are actually a bit higher -- Hypnotic hopes to get to the point where it is acquiring 30 - 40 new projects each month. Notably, Reelshort recently announced
a deal for Q. Allan Brocka's "Rick & Steve, The Happiest Gay Couple in the World," a short that was popular on the festival circuit. It is streaming the movie and will additional episodes will be created for the site.
Reelshort launched in September of 1999 as an online destination for short films. In March the company made a deal with Univeral, securing its equity investment from the studio and the strategic partnership. [Eugene Hernandez]
>> Eveo Program Matches Director With Agency
(indieWIRE/ 10.10.00) -- Weeks after formally establishing its Talent
Incubation and Management Program, Eveo today announced that director Oliver Wolfson has signed with The Gersh Agency for representation, for his animated short, "Bowlin