×

Smosh Founders on Making Their Second Movie, ‘Ghostmates,’ Coming to YouTube Red

The principals of YouTube comedy team Smosh, Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla, are starring in their second movie. And with their sophomore effort, paranormal buddy dramedy “Ghostmates,” the duo say they were more confident going in about their acting abilities – and they started with a story with instead of building a film around their digital personae.

YouTube greenlit and developed “Ghostmates” for its YouTube Red subscription service, and the movie is set to debut Dec. 14 on the $10-per-month service.

“This is a big step and evolution for us. It appeals to a broader audience,” Padilla said. With their first movie, in which the Smosh pals magically travel through YouTube to try to delete an embarrassing video, he said, “it felt like you had to be in the YouTube world to appreciate it.” Netflix last year acquired exclusive streaming rights to “Smosh: The Movie,” produced by AwesomenessTV and Defy Media.

According to Padilla, the “Ghostmates” story has “a lot of heart, and it would work without being a comedy… Our tastes have evolved over the years.”

That said, there’s still a delightfully crude joke at the crux of the plot: Hecox’s character, Eddie, dies in a freak accident after his tie gets stuck in a door – and everyone thinks he expired after an autoerotic asphyxiation mishap. After the socially awkward and unemployed Charlie (Padilla) moves into his apartment, the now-deceased Eddie pesters his new roommate (the only person who can see his ghostly incarnation) until Charlie agrees to help make amends with the living and get to heaven.

“Ghostmates” includes a cameo by rap artist T-Pain, who plays a resident of the ghost world, and co-stars Francesca Galassi and Cristina Spruell.

Hecox said YouTube execs provided only a few notes on the project. “We couldn’t be happier –- they allowed us to make the movie we wanted to make,” he said. “YouTube understands our channel is successful because we do what excites us.” Added Padilla, “With this one, we had almost complete freedom.”

The Smosh guys, who started posting videos on YouTube as teens in suburban Sacramento in 2005, now head a multifaceted brand in conjunction with digital studio Defy Media. Smosh’s seven YouTube channels have more than 41 million subscribers covering sketch comedy, animation and gaming, with a full cast of 13. The Smosh team also has produced popular music projects, mobile apps and even a print magazine and comic book series. This summer, Hecox and Padilla hosted a live variety show broadcast on YouTube.

“Ghostmates” kicked off when YouTube’s original programming team approached Smosh about making either a series or a movie, and “we got to work on an idea that excited us,” Hecox said. “We set out in the first movie to make a comedy, and with this one we set out to make a story first and foremost.” Noted Padilla, “Some scenes are bipolar. They get really serious, then you’re hit with some comedy bits.”

The movie was shot over 15 days this summer in Long Beach and Malibu, and the relatively quick turnaround on the project made it a no-go for some prospective directors Hecox and Padilla approached before they landed Jack Henry Robbins (son of Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon), whose credits include “Ultimate/Ultimate,” a mockumentary series for Spotify about the EDM scene. “Jack took on the challenge,” Hecox said, adding that Robbins contributed several one-liners.

Meanwhile, the duo considered including a nod to “Ghost,” the 1990 romantic thriller starring Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore, with a joke pottery scene. But they scrapped the idea because “we thought it would be too hokey,” said Padilla, who’s never actually seen “Ghost.”

“Ghostmates” is produced by Defy Media with executive producers Padilla, Hecox, Barry Blumberg and Jeffy Can. The film is produced by Carrie Lynn Certa and Ryan Finnerty, a longtime Smosh writing partner who also scribed the film.

Watch the trailer for “Ghostmates”:

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • Mission - Impossible - 1996

    Stan Australian Streamer Inks Content Deal With Paramount

    Stan, the Australian streaming video firm owned by Nine Entertainment, has signed a content supply deal with Paramount Pictures. The multi-year agreement adds to Stan’s line up of arrangements with Hollywood suppliers that already includes MGM, Disney, and Lionsgate. Subscription video has taken off hugely in Australia, where there are now an estimated 12.3 million [...]

  • Good Boys Movie

    ‘Good Boys’ Again Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the always-on TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Universal Pictures claims the top spot in spending for the second week in a row with “Good Boys.” Ads placed for the comedy had an estimated media value of $4.42 million through Sunday for [...]

  • Janice Lee

    Asian Streamer Viu Adds Wattpad Development Deal

    Multi-territory Asian video streaming service Viu has struck an original content deal with tech-driven story firm Wattpad. Together they aim to develop film and TV series under the Viu Original label. Canada-based Wattpad hosts a vast library of user-generated stories, with a claimed user base of 80 million, including 22 million in the Asia Pacific [...]

  • Oculus Go Product Shot

    Former Oculus Head of Mobile VR Max Cohen Leaves Facebook

    Early Oculus staffer Max Cohen, who at one point led mobile product for the VR unit, has left Facebook this week, Variety has learned. Cohen’s departure is just the latest staff defection for Facebook’s VR team, which recently also lost its head of VR product, Oculus co-founder Nate Mitchell. A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment. [...]

  • YouTube logo

    YouTube Reportedly to Stop Targeting Ads in Videos for Children

    YouTube is finalizing a plan under which it would no longer serve targeted ads in videos that are popular with kids, Bloomberg reported, citing anonymous sources. The move is intended to appease U.S. regulators that have been investigating whether YouTube violated privacy laws that prohibit online services from collecting data on children, according to the [...]

  • Facebook

    Facebook Looking to Hire Journalists for Curated News Section

    Facebook is looking to assemble a small team of journalists to help curate a news tab within its app. The team of 10 media professionals will complement algorithmic curation, and highlight the top stories of the day, according to a New York Times report. “We are building a new surface for news that will give [...]

  • Best Podcasts: 14 Podcasts You Should

    14 Podcasts You Should Be Listening to

    Here are a few of the informative, funny, thrilling and downright addictive podcasts that deserve your listening attention. Read Variety’s cover story, a deep dive into the podcast revolution with Conan O’Brien, right here. CaliphateThe New York Times Rukmini Callimachi’s reporting about the Islamic State is harrowing boots-on-the-ground journalism at its finest. Conan O’Brien Needs [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content