YouTube Red’s originals slate is adding two new productions: a documentary about transgender digital star Gigi Gorgeous helmed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Barbara Kopple, and a series starring popular YouTube personality JennxPenn.
On Wednesday, the first YouTube Red original programming — three films featuring digital stars and the prankish “Scare PewDiePie” series — premiered on the $10-per-month video and music service.
Gigi Gorgeous, a 23-year-old formerly known as Gregory Lazzarato, is the subject of “Untitled Gigi Gorgeous Project,” taking a look at the Canadian native’s journey from childhood into her transformation into a woman. Gigi Gorgeous, a beauty and fashion vlogger with more than 2.1 million subscribers, announced in a December 2013 YouTube video that she was transgender.
“I’ve spent the last five years going through a very personal journey,” Gigi Gorgeous said in a statement provided by her reps. “I’m nervous but thrilled to lift the curtain and share my intimate details and experiences through this film on YouTube Red.”
The untitled Gigi Gorgeous documentary is produced in collaboration with YouTube, SelectNext and Sander/Moses Productions. The film will be executive produced by Gigi Gorgeous, SelectNext’s Adam Wescott and Scott Fisher, as well as Ian Sander and Kim Moses of Sander/Moses Productions.
Kopple, whose films “American Dream” and “Harlan County, USA” won Academy Awards, is bringing her cinéma vérité style to telling Gigi Gorgeous’ story. The project is filming this week at New York Fashion Week, where Gigi Gorgeous is appearing in the American Heart Association’s Red Dress event, and will also shoot in L.A. and in Toronto revisiting her childhood haunts.
Producers originally intended to shop the Gigi Gorgeous documentary to festivals; under the YouTube Red arrangement, the video site is fully funding the project for exclusive distribution, while still allowing the docu to be screened at festivals. “The goal here is to really elevate the level of content that can be done on YouTube Red, and also to satisfy and intrigue her fans,” Wescott said. He added that the film will incorporate portions of the 4.5 hours of video Gigi Gorgeous shot of her transition to becoming a woman, including footage of her transgender surgery and private family moments.
“Foursome,” starring JennXPenn (19-year-old Jenn McAllister), comes from AwesomenessTV. McAllister is Andie, an undateable sophomore — thanks to her older brother Alec, played by Vine star Logan Paul, who makes sure no guy comes near her. Andie must rely on the unbreakable bond she has with her three best friends, as they navigate the hormone-induced journey known as high school.
YouTube Red originals now live are “Scare PewDiePie,” starring gaming vlogger Felix Kjellberg; “A Trip to Unicorn Island,” a documentary about Lilly Singh (aka IISuperwomanII) on her global tour from Astronauts Wanted; AwesomenessTV’s “Dance Camp” musical teen drama; and “Lazer Team,” a sci-fi action-comedy from Rooster Teeth and Fullscreen Films.
Other previously announced projects coming to YouTube Red include “Prank Academy,” featuring Jesse and Jeana of YouTube’s PrankvsPrank and BFvsGF; “Fight of the Living Dead,” a reality show from Alpine Labs with popular YouTubers trapped in a zombie apocalypse; “Untitled 360 Game Theory,” a show exploring virtual-reality experiences hosted by YouTube educator and pop-culture commentator MatPat from the Game Theorists; and “Bad Internet,” written by and starring the cast of IAC’s CollegeHumor, a dark and comedic look at the absurdity of Internet culture.