Twentieth Century Fox TV has tuned into writer-director Jason Winer (“Giants of Radio”), who will create projects and direct others.
Under the one-year deal, Winer — who’s also an actor — is already at work developing a series in the vein of “Giants,” an off-beat, low-budget pilot that contained a mix of scripted and improv dialogue.
Winer first came to 20th Century Fox TV’s attention two years ago, when he shot the short film “The Adventures of Big Handsome Guy and His Little Friend” for $20,000. Winer then reshot “Big Handsome Guy” as a Fox pilot for $3 million.
“Big Handsome Guy” wasn’t picked up, but was buzzed about enough that 20th came to Winer last year and asked if he could repeat it.
Instead, Winer came up with “Giants,” which was written, shot and edited before being shopped to networks (CBS eventually picked up the pilot, which didn’t make it to air). The writer-director hired improv actors to star in the unconventional project.
“(‘Giants’) proved that the whole cycle of TV, the way it’s produced, can be done differently,” Winer said. “In terms of doing something tonally that’s not on TV, it’s almost necessary to do it outside of the system.”
As part of his busy workload last development cycle, Winer also directed the Fox pilot “Sluts.”
Twentieth Century Fox TV chairman Gary Newman called Winer “the kind of talent we get incredibly excited about over here.”
“He’s truly multi-talented, as a writer, director and actor,” Newman said. “The great thing he proved to us with ‘Giants of Radio’ and ‘Big Handsome Guy’ is on shoestring budgets he produced incredible material. We expect Jason to do a range of projects for us.”
That includes a new series, which Winer will take on, along with producers Matthew Weinberg, Todd Komarnicki and Jon Berg of Guy Walks Into a Bar.
Winer said it’s too soon to identify the project’s plot, but that it will contain a semi-improv style.
“The goal style-wise is to capture that magic and freshness,” he said. “You’re seeing it in Judd Apatow’s stuff, in Adam McKay’s stuff. Suffice to say, I have an idea I’m excited to make, and will possibly shoot it in November.”
Winer said he has learned a lot from the “Giants” experience, and this time around will probably cast some bigger names and spent a little more money — and even partner with a network before going too far down the development pipeline.
Meanwhile, Winer is already on board to direct episodes of new shows “Miss/Guided,” “Carpoolers” and “Samantha Who?” in the fall. He’ll also helm another big-budget pilot for 20th in the spring.