'Zapped' short released to generate followers

VANCOUVER — Rainmaker Entertainment has been angling for some time to get into the big leagues of animation production. Now, it’s trying to Zap its way in.

The company is hoping to jump-start its slate by launching its own YouTube channel and posting an animated short, called “Zapped!” with characters it aims to turn into a feature.

The pic stars Rainmaker’s mascots, Ting and Juma. The company plans to release more shorts based on the duo.

“The whole idea is to build awareness as we proceed into the feature,” Rainmaker CEO Warren Franklin says.

By releasing “Zapped!” free on YouTube, Rainmaker hopes to build a following for the characters at the same time it develops and tests them. If the plan succeeds, the shorts will work as a marketing tool as well.

Though the Onion News Network has done it, few properties have made the transition from webisodes to TV or theatrical features.

Franklin points to Rovio’s recent decision to catapult the massive success of its mobile game, “Angry Birds,” into a television spinoff. He also notes that following the release of Pixar’s 2006 “Cars,” Disney created shorts to keep the property and brand awareness alive, maintaining a momentum for the release of “Cars 2″ later this year.

“We are kind of flipping the process around and saying, ‘Why don’t we start with this and see if we can build a feature out of the foundation of a short,’?” Franklin says.

Franklin admits that building an audience through social media is a challenge. However, he believes it is a more accessible, less restrictive, easily sharable, interactive platform where strong content can thrive.

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