By Sahil Patel
Veteran film and digital producer Matt Kaplan has been named president of Awesomeness Films, the division inside the DreamWorks Animation- and Hearst-owned AwesomenessTV focused on producing and distributing feature-length films for young adults.
In the role, Kaplan will work closely with the AwesomenessTV executive team — chiefly the CEO Brian Robbins — to build out the film division, and will be responsible for shepherding the company’s ambitious slate of film projects to completion. AwesomenessTV has 12-to-15 projects in various stages of development and production, including the recently announced “Shovel Buddies,” which stars YouTuber Kian Lawley and singer Bella Thorne among others.
Awesomeness Films will look to produce and acquire young-adult material, bringing together traditional and digital talent across all budget ranges for both wide and limited releases across theatrical and digital platforms, the company said.
“AwesomenessTV has made a major commitment to film production and we are looking to Matt with his strong track record in independent film to help us deliver on our very ambitious slate of films,” said Robbins in a statement. “Major Hollywood studios have largely ignored Generation Z. As we demonstrated with ‘Expelled,’ which premiered in December and immediately shot to №1 on iTunes, there is an enormous appetite for movies that speak to this audience.”
Kaplan comes to Awesomeness Films from Chapter One Films, a production company he founded in 2013. There, via a partnership with Blumhouse Productions, he produced films such as “The Lazarus Effect” (starring Olivia Wilde and Mark Duplass); “Viral” (directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman); and “6 Miranda Drive” (directed by Greg McLean and starring Kevin Bacon). He also produced Syfy’s mini-series “Ascension.”
Prior to Chapter One, Kaplan was SVP of development and production for Lionsgate Films, and director of digital development at CBS, where he was responsible for developing and managing online programming for CBS Interactive, including the Michael Cera-starring web series “Clark & Michael.”
In addition to Kaplan, two members from his team at Chapter One, Robyn Marshall and Max Siemers, will also be joining Awesomeness Films in unspecified roles.