The cornerstone of any good business is supply meets demand, advice that Warner Brothers has put to good use in developing their latest venture.
The 2017 TCA brought many exciting announcements, among them the official launch of Warner Bros new Digital Network, Stage 13, set to fill the gap in diversity that streaming networks have been sorely lacking. Specializing in “showcasing a new generation of inspired talent and voices in scripted and unscripted storytelling”, the streaming service will be available via YouTube, Facebook, and Stage13.com, starting in October. The company will also be using Verizon’s go90 platform to stream two of their 11 currently produced series, Two Sentence Horror Stories and Snatchers. And what’s this new content going to cost viewers? Absolutely nothing.
“We were looking for an opportunity to super-serve the young, multicultural audience and we saw premium digital content with an authentic, relevant and fearless voice as the path,” said Diana Mogollón, SVP and General Manager for Stage 13,“Warner Bros., which has a long history of cultivating new talent, got behind the idea and encouraged us to move forward with our vision of a short form premium content brand celebrating youth culture.”
And if connecting with multicultural millennials is the company’s focus, then Stage 13’s shows are right on target. The studio has taken the independent edge that one finds at Sundance, Tribeca, and on Amazon Prime, and has painted in a color other than white.
Although not explicitly stated, division heads, Mogollón (SVP/GM), Christopher Mack (SVP of Warner Bros. TV and head of scripted content for Stage 13), and Shari Scorca (head of unscripted content for Stage 13), eluded to pulling women and people of color into the spotlight.
“Stage 13 creates opportunities for emerging writers, directors, producers and actors to create both scripted and unscripted digital series. By seeking out fresh voices that have a distinct and diverse approach, it makes for great storytelling all around,” Mack said.
A few of those stories being told include Two Sentence Horror Stories, a 5-episode series created and directed by Vera Miao. Based off of a viral Reddit thread, Miao describes it as a show that taps into universal, primal fears, much in the same vein as Black Mirror or The Twilight Zone. Joining Miao is Cesar Mazariegos, creator of High and Mighty, a scripted dark comedy that won the LA Film Festival’s “Best Audience Episodic Story”. The show follows “Marcelo “Chelo” Chavez, a lovable addict who discovers he has superhuman powers, but only when he’s incredibly intoxicated. Both Miao and Mazariegos spoke to the “rigor and integrity” that Stage 13 approached their projects with, something they believe truly shows in the final product.
Other shows that are set to debut through Stage 13 this fall include:
Lipstick Empire: This female driven, unscripted series follows two of the beauty industry’s biggest brands — Lora Arellano and Dana Bomar, co-founders and CEOs of Melt Cosmetics. As the owners and faces of Melt, the two fierce makeup moguls tell their story that began behind a makeup counter and has blossomed to be one of the biggest independent makeup brands, with over 3 million global fans. The fast-paced, fans-first business keeps the co-CEOS’ busy balancing friendship, life and the highly competitive beauty industry. “Lipstick Empire” is produced by Shed Media.
Marching Orders: Regarded as the nation’s best, Bethune-Cookman University’s marching band always has a lot at stake. This unscripted series follows the incoming class trying to keep the legacy alive and the seniors who make sure they do. Led by band director Donovan “The Devil” Wells, the Wildcats take it to the field every performance, risking college scholarships and national fame every time. “Marching Orders” is produced by Gigantic Productions.
Independent: This unscripted series follows four of hip hop’s most exciting independent artists, Futuristic, Reverie, Sean Brown, and Trinidad James, as they work to take over the music scene without the ties of a major record label. Stage 13 follows these bold artists as they grow their fan base, tour internationally and deal with the harsh realities that come when chasing the dream. “Independent” is about the hustle, the vision and the American Hip-Hop dream. The series was in the digital shorts episodic competition at Series Fest this June, the series was produced by We Are Famous Productions..
I Love Bekka & Lucy: The first digital series to ever be featured in the episodic category at SXSW, takes an honest and comedic look into the friendship of two best friends who face the evolution of their relationship when one of them gets engaged. Rachael Holder created, wrote and directed the series. It stars Jessica Kennedy (“Black Sails”) as Bekka, Tanisha Long (“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”) as Lucy, Alexis Denisof (“How I Met Your Mother”) as Glen and Chris Smith (“Paranormal Activity 3”) as Harry. In addition to Holder, “I Love Bekka & Lucy” is produced by Haven Entertainment.
The Incredible Life of Darrell: Revolves around Darrell, an awkward wallflower who finds himself delaying the transition into adulthood at all costs. Unlike most of his colorful friends, Darrell refuses to get a job and instead focuses on building jetpacks and playing hacky sack in his spare time. Darrell Lake created, wrote, directed and stars in the series. It also stars newcomers actors Joy Regullano, Justin Bryant Rapp, Caleb Brown, Abigail Klein, April Grace and more. “The Incredible Life of Darrell” is produced by West of 7th Digital Productions.