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RYOT Partners With Vice to Fund Documentary Films (EXCLUSIVE)

Oath’s immersive entertainment studio RYOT has partnered with Vice Studios to co-finance and co-produce a series of documentary films. The two-year, multi-million dollar partnership emerged after Verizon shut down Go90, for which  Vice was producing short-form content.

“We’ve always admired and loved Vice as colleagues,” said head of RYOT Films Hayley Pappas in an interview with Variety this week. “We have a shared DNA,” added RYOT co-founder and CEO Bryn Mooser.

“We’ve been friends with the RYOT team since they started, and couldn’t be more excited about their shared love for provocative, humanistic stories,” said Vice Studios executive creative director Danny Gabai. “When we saw an opportunity to team up and work together to support the best documentary filmmaking talent out there, we knew we had to jump at the opportunity.”

Mooser and Pappas didn’t want to reveal any projects of the new fund just yet, but said that they were among other things looking to partner with young, female filmmakers and promote diversity on and off camera. “We will find projects that wouldn’t get funded at other places,” Mooser said.

The two teams plan to announce some of their first titles this fall, and then premiere them in 2019. The goal is to bring movies to film festivals and release some titles theatrically, while go directly to SVOD services with others, explained Pappas.

RYOT was founded in 2012 with a focus on humanitarian stories and immersive filmmaking. The company was acquired by the Huffington Post in 2016, and is now under the Oath umbrella. Mooser said that the partnership with Vice represented a significant milestone for RYOT, quipping that the film fund had almost more money than RYOT has had since its beginning.

Oath owner Verizon announced in June that it would shut down its mobile video service Go90 at the end of this month. On Tuesday, the company revealed that it incurred a $900 million post-tax charge related to severance payments and other write-downs during the most recent quarter, with the bulk of those expenses being related to the shuttering of Go90.

Vice was exclusively producing a daily news show for Go90, which was also carrying some other Vice content as part of a multi-year deal. With Go90 now gone, the fund is stepping in to continue that relationship, albeit with a focus on long-form and without any exclusive commitments to Verizon’s online properties. “We are making films,” Mooser said. “It’s pretty different.”

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