Helmer to develop animated shorts for 'Net

Director David Lynch will develop a series of animated shorts titled “Dumbland” exclusively for Shockwave.com., it was announced Wednesday at the Yahoo! Internet Life Online Film Festival.

Event’s unexpected mass turnout at The Standard and Chateau Marmont hotels and Directors Guild of America made confab a sort of American Film Market for dot-coms involved in online entertainment.

Lynch, director of “The Straight Story,” “The Elephant Man” and “Blue Velvet,” said the shorts will be about three minutes in length and will bow in June. He said he intends to provide 15 shorts to start and then plans to deliver a new installment in the series about every two weeks after that.

“It’s going to be very crude, but sophisticatedly crude,” Lynch said, laughing. “It’s very dumb and it’s very bad quality.”

Lynch said he intends to create “Dumbland” himself by learning to use Macromedia’s Flash software, which is used in the vast majority of online animation. Shockwave.com’s video players have been downloaded by more than 200 million people.

“I started out as a painter, then I got into animation but it was sort of stop-action kinds of things,” Lynch said. “Flash animation is really something… I’m going to try to do it myself.”

Lynch will maintain control over the characters and properties he creates for Shockwave.com

“David Lynch is amazing,” Shockwave CEO Rob Burgess said. “The Internet is a perfect new medium for him. We’re thrilled to have him developing programs for the audience of Shockwave.com.”

Lynch is the latest talent to sign up to provide exclusive content for Shockwave.com. Earlier this week it was announced that James L. Brooks will create a series of animated shorts for the Web site. Other talent on board includes Tim Burton, who will expand on his “Stain Boy” character and Spiderman creator Stan Lee. Lee’s animated series “The 7th Portal” bowed last month.

It was reported this week (Daily Variety, March 22) that when “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone turned in the first raunchy episode of the promised 39 animated shorts the pair is scheduled to create for Shockwave.com, execs started debating whether or not to put a system in place to keep fans under 18 from viewing the material.

Burgess denied that they “balked” at the duo’s work on Wednesday, but added that the company “would do something to protect the kids,” possibly verifying credit card numbers (individuals under 18 can’t apply for credit cards) to keep youngsters’ eyes away from the show.

“The reason why we wanted Matt and Trey to work with us was so that they could be out there,” Burgess said. “When you’re working with them you’re going along for the ride.”

A final decision has yet to be made.

Mandalay Entertainment topper Peter Guber provided Wednesday’s keynote and publishing vet, and now online player, Kurt Anderson, of Powerful Media, will speak today at the confab.

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