HOLLYWOOD — A couple of Hollywood insiders will soon launch Flixer, a Web venture and digital production studio they hope will open up the filmmaking process to industry outsiders.
Robert Lazarus, most recently chief operating officer for Mutual Film Co. at Paramount, and Chris Buchanan, former senior veep of production at Warner Bros.-based Jerry Weintraub Prods., are readying the startup, skedded to hit the Web in October.
Flixer.com will enable filmmakers to create virtual online production offices where they can test market projects by allowing individuals to comment on every aspect of a pic’s development, from script to casting to production.
The filmmakers will determine which site members will be admitted to each group. They will also have the option of opening up their projects to every site visitor for opinions. Memberships will be free at first. Netizens who contribute most to the development process will receive more benefits.
Lazarus and Buchanan said the idea is to create an online space to foster creativity and develop projects, targeting professional and amateur filmmakers, movie fans and general audiences.
“There are a lot of places that can put your video up, but we’re building communities around projects,” Lazarus said. “We’re creating an environment to get them made, to make them better. It will elevate creativity. Moviemakers need an audience, so why not engage it sooner?”
Offline, Flixer Studios will produce its own slate of pics, many of them to be shot on digital video, and work with partnered domestic and international distributors to release them.
Flixer.com serves as a way for the production company to identify possible projects and find new talent. Because the site is open to everyone, the major studios will also be able to use it to pick up projects or filmmakers.
“We’re all about opening up the process to the online community of digital filmmaking and empowering them to help make creative decisions,” Buchanan said.
While sites such as Eveo.com and AntEye.com have been viewed as gimmicks, times are changing. Old Hollywood may still be reluctant to log onto the Web, but the membership of Generation Internet continues to grow.
“The Internet is not a gimmick to them,” Buchanan said. “They use it. It’s a tool for them.”
Flixer said its revenues will be generated through online syndication, sponsorships and advertising, as well as the sale of and box office from its released pics.
Lazarus and Buchanan have already raised $3.5 million from venture capitalist firm Alliance Atlantis.
Board members include Nish Bhutani, senior veep and group publisher of CNET; Dave Eun, a principal at Arts Alliance; and Peter Read of Hoegh Capital Partners.
Advisers to the company include former Fox head of programming and production exec Doug Herzog, writer-director-producer Joss Whedon, MIT Media Lab’s Glorianna Davenport and musicvid helmers Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris.
Lazarus, who has also served as executive veep and general manager for Turner Broadcasting, began working on the venture in February. Buchanan, who also served as an agent at UTA, ankled Jerry Weintraub Prods. in June.