Digital Studio Formed by Discovery, Brian Grazer and Ron Howard Pacts with 14 YouTube Creators

Brian Grazer Ron Howard
Kevin Mazur/WireImage

New Form Digital, the online studio joint venture of Discovery Communications, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and others, has cut its first production deals with 14 YouTube creators for short films.

The studio is funding the films, each less than 10 minutes long, with a project it’s calling the New Form Incubator. It has deals with creators including Joey Graceffa, Joe Penna (MysteryGuitarMan), Sawyer Hartman, Meghan Camarena (Strawburry17), Tony Valenzuela (BlackBoxTV) and 5SecondFilms.

“The New Form team is excited to be working with some of our favorite online content creators to make films that, while short in nature, are truly unique in today’s multiplatform landscape,” Kathleen Grace, chief creative officer of New Form Digital, said in a statement. “Our New Form Incubator partners represent not only some of the most successful channels on YouTube, but also a new breed of filmmaker for a new generation.”

SEE ALSO: Ron Howard, Brian Grazer to Launch Digital Studio with Discovery Communications

The New Form Incubator shorts will be distributed through each partner’s YouTube channel. In addition, the films could possibly be part of off-YouTube licensing deals, according to Grace, who previously was manager of creative development for YouTube Space LA.

“For these projects we will be looking at the distribution and brand partners that best fit the specific talent and story,” Grace said, adding that the studio plans to work with many partners. She noted that New Form has a deal with AOL for original docuseries “Inspired,” featuring celebrities and newsmakers about their life-changing moments.

New Form, announced in April, has about $5 million in funding. Other partners in New Form are Imagine co-chairman Michael Rosenberg, attorney Craig Jacobson, former Tribune Broadcasting president Ed Wilson, former William Morris chief Jim Wiatt and CAA.

The other YouTube creators in the first wave of the New Form Incubator are: Anna Akana, Chris and Nick Riedell (The Brothers Riedell), Bertie Gilbert, Craig Benzine (WheezyWaiter), PJ Liguori (KickThePJ), POYKPAC Comedy, Tim Hautekiet and Yulin Kuang.

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  1. JT says:

    How does anyone make money off of these short films?

  2. saraalethia says:

    I’m so happy for Pj. He needs this.

  3. Edward says:

    I’ve seen a real increase in brand-endorsed content on Youtube over the past year and I see it continuing at a pace.

    Often the brand message is even more blatant than the skippable ads at the start of the videos. They make me think of the extreme product-placement scene from Wayne’s World (e.g. all the Naturebox flogging of late).

    KickThePJ did a nice, creative video to promote growing seeds, but it was still very much an ad, just longer. I think I’d prefer to have non-skippable short ads on videos and have the content be just for its own sake. I fear we’ll end up having both the short ads and the long ‘ads’ as standard fare in the not too distant future. Money, money, money.

    And here I was thinking YouTube was a new approach to media, rather than just to be swallowed up in old media ways.

  4. Steve says:

    …a new breed of filmmakers who know less about storytelling and making films than anyone in history.

    Really sad they’re funding a popularity contest instead of discovering and developing real talent.

    • Amanda says:

      Actually, one of the creators in this batch, Craig Benzine, has made almost 1000 videos on his channel over the past 7 years, more than any of the other creators so far, and a large amount of it is not sponsored content. You can’t say he hasn’t had enough practice with storytelling. Also, I’ve been watching Youtube creators regularly for about 4 years, and about a third of the creators on this list I have never heard of. I doubt that this is solely a popularity contest.

    • JT says:

      Totally agree – many YouTube videos these days are just commercials disguised as “entertainment”.

    • Aj says:

      There’s endless amounts of talent out there, being noticed is half the battle. The people scrapping and fighting for it in LA will be first in line.

    • Dan says:

      Definitely :/ But lets see what they can do!

      Looking forward to the 5secondfilms partnership

    • George says:

      I think you’d be quite surprised by Bertie Gilbert, he’s made some pretty great short films. Check them out.

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