The Internet taught Principato Young the value of low-cost shorts.
The shingle started producing web content early on as a way to give clients the chance to express themselves and show networks and studios what they could do. It was a natural given the management-production company’s comedy strengths.
“Comedy works well in short form,” points out Peter Principato. “The new format for that is online.”
The company has produced Web series such as “Wainy Days” for multi-hyphenate David Wain, and “Children’s Hospital,” Rob Corddry’s satire of TV medical shows on thewb.com that Adult Swim just picked up. The company also represents many of the digital writers for College Humor and Funny or Die.
“We take the Internet very seriously here because we feel like it’s an opportunity for our clients to make stuff — to get behind the camera, to get in front of the camera, to be part of the process, to protect that comedic lens from which they see the world,” Principato says.
Wain, for example, started “Wainy Days” after he did “The State” sketch comedy show on MTV and some specials for Comedy Central. Wain has since landed directing jobs for “Role Models” and “Wanderlust” (both of which he wrote) for Universal, the latter starring Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston and produced by Judd Apatow, and continues to write and direct his web series, now in its fourth season on My Damn Channel
“He’s honing his voice,” says Paul Young, who chaired the Groundlings Theater for three years and is married to actress Cheryl Hines, a veteran of the storied sketch comedy troupe.
The bonus is that high-profile talent is open to web series because they are quick, fun and involve little to no creative interference. Paul Rudd, Megan Mullally, Elizabeth Banks and Jonah Hill are among those that have guest starred on “Wainy Days.” Mullally also stars as a sex-crazed doctor on Corddry’s “Children’s Hospital,” which also features Henry Winkler and Malin Akerman.
At this point, however, there’s little money in the platform. “We’re all trying to monetize it, and we will,” Principato says, citing sponsorship and advertising support as potential revenue streams.
In the meantime clients creating four-minute shorts for HBO’s “Funny or Die” could potentially parlay them into feature films, he says. “You’ve got the talent, the look, the director,” Principato says. “If you’re looking to fastball a concept you can do it for very little money.”