Disney Channel, looking to drive young viewers to digital destinations in the last weeks of summer vacation, is launching a block of 12 short-form movies on its ad-supported online services and YouTube.
The batch of shorts also serves as a vehicle for the cabler to cultivate creative partners. The lineup includes films from Kent Boyd, star of Disney Channel’s “Teen Beach Movie”; actor-producer Freddy Rodriguez (“Six Feet Under”); choreographer Christopher Scott (“Teen Beach Movie,” “Step Up All In”); and film scribes Ryan Landels (“Jem and the Holograms”) and John Swetnam (“Step Up All In”).
Disney Channel talent including Leo Howard (“Kickin’ It”) and “Teen Beach Movie” stars Garrett Clayton, Chrissie Fit, John Deluca and Mollee Gray are among the actors featured in the shorts.
The films are debuting under the “Free Period” rubric on the Disney Channel website, mobile apps and connected-TV devices starting Friday, Aug. 5. (“Free Period” also is the title of one of the short movies, divided into four parts.) The movies also will roll out daily on Disney Channel’s YouTube channel from Aug. 5 through Aug. 18.
The 12 movies are:
- “Abby Normal”: Abigail “Abby” Normal and her cousin Zoe embark on a secret mission to investigate their strange neighbor across the street. Ryan Landels (“Jem and the Holograms”) serves as writer and director.
- “Arcanum”: A young teen seeks a mystical artifact to save the world from an ancient evil, but the mysterious librarian who owns it has other plans. Stunt coordinator Mitchell Gould (“Kickin’ It,” “Gamer’s Guide to Pretty Much Everything,” “K.C. Undercover”) serves as writer and director. Actor and martial artist Leo Howard (“Kickin’ It”) stars.
- “Exchange”: When their study abroad program is cancelled, a teen girl suggests that her classmates spend a week at each other’s houses instead. Actress Dahéli Hall (“MADtv”) serves as writer and director.
- “Free Period”: Comedy starring Kent Boyd (“Teen Beach Movie”) in which outrageous acts of randomness spring from his mind during the one class he’s allowed to let his imagination run wild. “Teen Beach Movie” stars Garrett Clayton, Chrissie Fit, John Deluca and Mollee Gray are among the cast; Boyd and Zoe Katz serve as writers and producers.
- “Hamburger High”: Animated short stars Lisa Pizza, a slice of pepperoni pizza, as she navigates her way through high school. Joe Swanson (“Zombo”) is the writer and first-time director.
- “How To Catch A Ghost”: After her family moves into a new home, a teen girl is surprised to find it filled with ghosts who love to dance. Choreographer Christopher Scott (“Teen Beach Movie,” “Step Up All In”) is writer and director.
- “Nelson Bixby Takes On the Whole Wide World”: Actor Freddy Rodriguez (“Six Feet Under,” “Ugly Betty”) executive produces short film about a shy 11-year-old boy who gets unexpected help and advice from the ghost of a famous Mexican wrestler named “El Nino!” Francisco Lorite (“Cuco Gomez-Gomez is Dead!”) serves as writer and director.
- “Nu Skool Records”: A group of teens launch their own record label on campus to create viral music-video stars. John Swetnam serves as writer and producer, and Matt Pizzano, whose short film “Becoming: Bradley Theodore” played at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival, directs.
- “Parker and the Crew”: A team of kids come together to stop neighborhood bullies from ruining summer. Viet Nguyen (“Crush the Skull”) serves as writer and director and Chris Dinh serves as writer and producer; produced by Justin Lin’s YOMYOMF production company.
- “Penelope In the Treehouse”: Upset with her family, a girl uses magic fertilizer on her treehouse and finds herself high among the clouds. Written and directed by Jonathan Langager (“Josephine and the Roach”).
- “Trunk”: After two brothers discover a trunk that transforms toys into real life people, they accidentally ignite a power struggle that endangers their and their town’s lives. Written and directed by Adam Stein and Zach Lipovsky. Lipovsky is co-executive producer of Disney XD’s upcoming live-action series “MECH X-4.” Stein and Lipovsky have both also directed multiple episodes of “MECH X-4.”
- “Virtual High”: Sophia and her colleagues attend Virtual High, a school that exists entirely in a virtual world. Camille Stochitch and Alexander Berman serve as writers and directors. Stochich won a Student Academy Award for her short “Interstate,” while Berman’s short “App” premiered at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival.
The “Free Period” movie initiative is independent from Maker Studios, Disney’s YouTube-focused digital arm, but the Mouse House’s cable group has worked with Maker in the past: Disney XD debuted a group of videos from Maker creator partners on its digital channels earlier this year. Last week, Maker disclosed a round of layoffs as part of a “strategic adjustments” to the business.
Disney Channel is currently available on basic cable and satellite in over 92 million U.S. homes. It’s among the Mouse House’s global portfolio of 116 kid-focused channels and feeds available worldwide.
Pictured above: “Free Period” from Kent Boyd and Zoe Katz