HSI embraces Kayoss ‘Net venture

Ad, musicvid shop spins new Web content

Commercial and musicvid producer HSI Prods. has formed Kayoss, a separate Internet production venture to create original programming for other Web sites.

HSI, which is moving into a new 17,000 square foot facility in Culver City, is positioning Kayoss as a separate company, but one that will still depend on a roster of 16 HSI-affiliated helmers to create a slate of original video and animated shows for the Web, as well as interactive advertising projects.

Directors involved in the venture include Jonas Akerlund (Madonna’s “Ray of Light”), Paul Hunter (Lenny Kravitz’s “American Woman”), Diane Martel (Christina Aguilera’s “What a Girl Wants”), Zack Snyder (Jeep’s “Frisbee”), David LaChapelle (Moby’s “Natural Blues”) and Matthew Rolston (the Gap’s “Khakis Swing”).

Musicvid and commercial directors have long been considered to be best suited for creating Internet programming, considering their abilities to tell visually impressive stories in a short amount of time. Propaganda Films is also climbing into the arena through a deal with Netcaster AtomFilms.

Nike vet

Kayoss wouldn’t be HSI’s first foray on the Web. Inhouse helmer Johan Renck created the “Continued at Whatever.Nike.com” campaign, which began on television and sent viewers to the Internet to watch multiple endings for each spot.

Kayoss’ content will be made available to the Internet through three divisions: Kayoss Syndication will create, finance and produce serials. Kayoss Creative will produce advertising and entertainment content for clients, while Kayoss Cross Media will focus on convergent programming.

Content will be sponsorship driven or include e-commerce and product placement, with HSI assisting via its relationships with commercial clients.

Kayoss is currently looking to hire a staff of up to 30 people, including top management.

HSI Prods. prexy Stavros Merjos created the company, as well as subsids Mars Media and Venus Entertainment, in 1986, to manage the careers of helmers, as well as fund and produce their projects for clients.

New medium for helmers

“We’re bringing a number of the top shortform filmmakers in the world to the table,” Merjos said. “The idea is to give our directors the outlet of a new medium and, as a result, produce content that will actually be compelling for the user.”

Kayoss will be a partnership between himself and key HSI/Mars Media execs Kerstin Emhoff, Bill Sandwick, Rebecca Skinner and Randy Winograd. George Linardos, former head of Ben Stiller’s Red Hour Films, will serve as Kayoss’ lead executive.

He has spent the past four months as the head of new media for HSI, where he spearheaded the formation of Kayoss.

“Technology is still a little way out in terms of these guys being able to fully do their thing,” Linardos said. “We want to build a presence in what we do, make money and learn what it is to create interactive content. We want a company that makes sense on paper and makes money.”

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