Maker Studios is living up to its last name: studios.
The company has long been managers, agents, and brand-brokers for the 1 percent of social media personalities that can generate financially viable traffic. But now amid its nearly $1 billion acquisition to Disney, Maker is turning its focus to the creation of original content, not just shepherding and marketing their talent’s self-produced creations.
First up, a lifestyle series about millennials in Los Angeles called “Oh, You Pretty Things.” (No relation to the 1971 David Bowie song.)
Playing the lead “pretty thing” is Clint Eastwood‘s daughter and former Miss Golden Globes, Francesca Eastwood. In the series, she plays a blogger in East Los Angeles, who’s navigating the fashion and music scene, while juggling a healthy sidebar of dating, relationships and roommate drama.
The project is a co-production between Maker, Nylon Magazine (whose Youtube channel is managed by Maker), and We Put Out Entertainment. Maker executives declined to discuss the financing structure or budget for the project.
Maker leveraged Nylon’s annual spring “Young Hollywood” party (officially labeled: Nylon + BCBGeneration Annual May Young Hollywood Issue Event), a popular over-subscribed affair hosted by the Roosevelt pool Thursday night, as a launch party for the show debuts next Mon., May 19. Among young Hollywood’s who’s who of attendees were some Demi Moore and Bruce Willis offspring, Justin Bieber foil Drake Bell, and legacy media stars like Josh Henderson and Nickelodeon’s Jennette McCurdy.
Despite knocking out the series during a 16-day shoot, Eastwood says working with the upstart studio “was so cool, so laid back, and so awesome.” Though she declined TheWrap’s suggestion that her deal should include Maker’s more traditional expert social media guidance. To Eastwood’s credit, she already has 121,000 Instagram followers.
Dovetailing with the theme, social media A-lister Amy Pham, beauty blogger It’s My Rae Rae (who? 465,000 Youtube subscribers, 264,000 Instagram followers that’s who!) and actress-fashion blogger Cara Santana, added an authenticity anchor to Nylon’s packed party.
They also got access to the “gold wristband only” swag boutique to grab-all-you-can from BCBGeneration, one of the night’s sponsors along with VitaFrute. In addition to “Weekend Warrior” t-shirts, hats, and headphones, the gold-braceleted set also got actual monogrammed gold bracelets on site.
“We all feel passionate about scripted,” Benni Leigh, Maker’s executive business director for Lifestyle, told TheWrap.
“We in the lifestyle (department) wanted our version of ‘Gossip Girl’, and so when (director) Rico Martinez brought us these scripts, we felt so connected to these characters. Everything was so real and authentic and true to the LA scene.”
“It gives a look at a big scene that most people only know through (MTV’s former glossy valentine to L.A.) ‘The Hills’,” Maker’s Jenny Fancy told TheWrap at the Roosevelt . “That’s not what L.A. is about. It brings the aesthetic of a UK “Skins” with intrigue and drama of “Gossip Girl.”
Along with Celeste Hughey, Leigh and Fancy run “The Platform,” a beauty and fashion, ahem, platform, that lives on and off YouTube (363,000 plus subscribers), which will debut “Pretty Things.”
Paralleling the urge many of Maker’s own talents feel to establish channels outside Youtube, Maker is staking out the first distribution window exclusively for itself.
On May 19, all of show’s 10 eight-minute episodes will debuts in binge format on their proprietary Maker.TV, prior to YouTube’s “The Platform” channel getting a traditional episode-by-episode release pattern.
In addition to Eastwood, some of the male on-screen talent are actual musicians who have recorded a soundtrack companion. Though the guys have been playing off-screen together, their brief set at the Nylon party was the sad trombone of the evening — nearly clearing the room.
The sounds (and look) in the series’ trailer is much cleaner.
Have a look, and listen: