New Form Digital - Pick-Up Sticks
Courtesy of New Form Digital

New Form Digital has released eight scripted short-form pilots from YouTube creators and other independent talent, with the digital studio angling to produce them as full series for distribution partners.

It’s the third wave of pilots from New Form Digital — whose backers include Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and Discovery Communications — since the start-up was formed in 2014.

New Form Digital’s Incubator Series 3 features multiple scripted genres and styles, from crime and sci-fi to drama and animated adventure. The company is announcing the selections Tuesday at MipTV’s MipDigital Fronts showcase.

The company picked the creators in the latest round of pilots based on their audience reach on digital platforms, storytelling ability, production skills and passion, said New Form Digital chief creative officer Kathleen Grace.

“We give these creators the tools and guidance to do their best work,” Grace said. “Having this pilot video lets them figure out what the story is they want to tell, by asking their YouTube audience what they like… as opposed to a traditional television pilot, which never sees the light of day.”

Each pilot in the Incubator Series 3 features an appearance by digital personality Mitchell Davis, who also was featured in the first two rounds of New Form’s Incubator series. The pilots will be available on his own YouTube channel and at New Form Digital’s YouTube channel.

New Form’s first two pilot waves have yielded 10 deals for series that have launched or are currently in development for partners including Verizon’s Go90, CW’s Seed, Vimeo and YouTube Red. “We’ve kind of figured out the sweet spot for how many (pilots) we can support at once,” said Grace. The Santa Monica, Calif.-based studio now has 27 full-time employees.

One of the creators in New Form Digital’s third pilot series is Olan Rogers, an actor-filmmaker-YouTuber based in Nashville, Tenn., who produced intergalactic cartoon, “Final Space,” based on an idea he’s been brewing for six years. “They are letting people create whatever the heck they want and funding it,” said Rogers, 28. “The cool part of that is, you’re getting people’s passion projects.”

The eight pilots and their creators are:

  • “Final Space,” Olan Rogers: Animated action-adventure comedy that follows an intergalactic security guard named Gary, who makes it his quest to protect his new alien friend named Mooncake from imperial bounty hunters. Mooncake is the last of his kind and holds a special power within him — a power that, in the wrong hands, can destroy worlds.
  • “Friend Like Me,” Sammy Paul: Toby second-guesses his lifelong friendship with Gene, his childhood genie turned freeloading roommate, after his girlfriend leaves him. In a fit of anger, Toby banishes Gene with no way to retrieve his pal after the hasty decision turns to regret. Starring Chris Kendall, Bertie Gilbert, Thomas Ridgewell and Andrea Valls.
  • “Hacks,” Tim Hautekiet and Patrick Hendrickson: Brian Thomas, a computer security programmer, discovers his employers are up to no good so he decides to take the information public and goes into hiding, entrusting his roommate, Lucy, to take a hard drive filled with evidence to the press, only for her to completely forget about it.
  • “Intricate Vengeance,” Wilson Cleveland: Four crime victims form an anonymous organization dedicated to producing real-life revenge fantasies for justice-starved clients. Starring Luke Cook, Wilson Cleveland, Meghan Tonjes, Vincent Cyr, Brianne Davis and Ricky Russert.
  • “The Ministry,” Khyan Mansley: Henry Wallace is desperate in every way when his ex-lover asks that he save her husband from “The Ministry,” a dubious religious organization that worships Henry’s writing. When the Ministry offers a solution to all his problems, Henry must choose between this suspect salvation or helping the woman who broke his heart.
  • “Phantom Nights,” Damon O’Steen: For the past 60 years, there have been strange and unexplained occurrences at the Stars and Stripes Drive-In. Nine years after theater staffer Geoff Ryder’s twin brother went missing at the drive-in, he discovers footage of his missing sibling in hidden film canisters dating back 50 years.
  • “The Pick-Up Sticks,” Natalie Lander and Michelle Glavan (pictured above): Four messy, dysfunctional 20-something actors try to keep their heads above water off-screen while playing squeaky­-clean teens on a hit children’s show. Starring Natalie Lander, Michelle Glavan, Matthew Moy and Brando Eaton.
  • “Welcome Back,” Elisha Yaffe: Taylor returns home from a mental institution and quickly finds herself stuck at a welcome-back party full of people only she can see. With the help of her friend Harper, she tries to free herself from the shackles of her own mind. Starring Chrissy Chambers.

From the first round of pilots, New Form Digital premiered Sawyer Hartman’s “The Parallax Theory” and PJ Liguori’s “Oscar’s Hotel for Fantastical Creatures” on Vimeo On Demand. Incubator Series 2 produced Emily Diana Ruth’s “Cold” for Verizon Go90 and Wong Fu Productions’ “Single by 30” for YouTube Red.

Watch the third wave of New Form Digital pilots here:

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