A year after its launch, Crypt TV is plotting an expansion, bulking up its staff and bringing on partners in order to create more short-form horror content.
Its staff will grow from four to seven people, and the plan is to begin working with studio collaborators and other distribution platforms such as video-on-demand and over-the-top services. Currently the bulk of Crypt TV’s content is accessed via its Facebook page, although the digital genre network has done some exclusive Snapchat programming, such as a live murder mystery it produced last fall.
Backed by “Purge” producer Jason Blum’s company Blumhouse Productions and “Hostel” director Eli Roth, the company has focused on making content that is typically less than three minutes in duration. This year, the fruits of their labor have added up to over 250 pieces of original content.
The network was created to fill a gap in the kind of viral videos being made. Most of the content, the partners observed, was humorous, and there was very little to scratch a macabre itch.
“We were looking at the evolving digital landscape and everyone wanted to make short-form content for the phone, but no one was tapping into the genre space,” said Jack Davis, Crypt TV’s co-founder and CEO. “So it became almost a challenge of how do we scare someone in 15 seconds.”
The goal is to continue experimenting with the length of the shorts, growing the run time to between five and seven minutes. Among the projects that are being revisited with a goal of increasing their run times are “Doll House,” a short about a demented collector’s dangerous obsessions; “Date Gone Wrong,” the story of a hook-up that takes a turn for the otherworldly; and “Torture Games,” a look at two sadistic women’s attempts to cook up creative ways of killing their victims.
Crypt TV makes money on advertising, but it did not reveal how much the videos cost to produce. It’s not currently profitable, but the creators said their emphasis has been on growing the audience for the films they make. The shorts have a professional veneer, but the turnaround is quick — it usually takes between 10 and 14 days to complete a project.
Davis and Roth say that they’ve been able to build a loyal following in recent months — the service attracts 15 million views and has over 1 million Facebook fans. They believe that this street cred and this ability to communicate directly with audiences between the ages of 18 and 25 years old, who are not as easy to reach on television, will help them appeal to studio and consumer partners. They’ve already helped do some promotional work for studios, assisting on the marketing of “The Visit,” a low-budget horror film that Blum produced.
“We are creating characters and universes that live entirely in a digital world,” said Roth. “We see this as something separate from what we do on film or TV, but the key is still to create great characters and mythologies that people can get obsessed with.”
Although Blum maintains one of the busiest production hubs in Hollywood, fielding low-budget horror films such as “Insidious” and “Ouija,” he is adamant that Crypt TV isn’t some sort of minor league team tasked with fielding characters and ideas that can be expanded into feature length productions.
“This isn’t some IP factory,” said Blum. “What I was passionate about and what I was interested in discovering is what is scary on a telephone and how long does this content need to be in order to work?”
Blum’s past horror hits give him legitimacy among devotees of the genre, and Roth, who is Crypt TV’s co-founder, is a prolific tweeter, who has over 280,000 Twitter followers and more than 160,000 Facebook fans. Their celebrity brings attention to the platform that other nascent digital players would envy.
The founders say they’ve been heartened by the response, and there’s evidence that some people are beginning to view Crypt TV as a destination in and of itself. Some fans are developing their own Facebook groups to share Crypt content and there are videos of people getting tattoos with the Crypt logo.
“We see ourselves as the place for the next generations of geeks and nerds, for the freaks and the weirdos, the outcasts and the outsiders,” said Davis.