Last fall New Form Digital, the digital content studio headed by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, released 14 short films each headed by a big-name YouTube creator. The idea was the explore the potential of digital content with some of the medium’s most experienced creators leading the way. The shorts were intended to be pilots that could be the seeds for ongoing series, and it seems the Vimeo agrees. The YouTube rival with an artsy reputation has picked up two of New Form’s pilots with big plans to take them all the way to series.
The two big winners will be PJ “KickThePJ” Ligouri’s “Oscar’s Hotel,” a fantasy set in a boarding house that’s home to a menagerie of mythical beasts, and “Parallax,” an apocalyptic drama created by Sawyer Hartman. When our own Jeff Klima reviewed the pilot he called it “Spontaneous, proper, and absolutely filled to the brim with punny, talking creatures.” I was a little less bullish in my own review of “Parallax” though I did appreciate the slick production values and tight casting choices. Both pilots will receive a 10-episode season on Vimeo’s on-demand service to prove themselves, with the potential for more if they perform well with viewers. Fans can also expect plenty of exclusive creator content, including behind the scenes footage which Vimeo surely hopes will attract Ligouri and Hartman’s active YouTube fanbases.
This isn’t the first time that Vimeo successfully wooed YouTube creators. Last summer the platform signed an exclusive deal with three of YouTube’s biggest names. Joey Graeceffa and ComicBookGirl19 both released extended versions of their YouTube content via Vimeo on-demand while Taryn Southern launched her feature film Searching For Katie on the platform.
Both series are set to premiere in 2015 on Vimeo On-Demand. No pricing information or exact release dates have been set. “Vimeo On Demand offers a great platform for our original projects to be showcased as digital series,” said New Form Chief Creative Office Kathleen Grace. “We’re thrilled that we can bring PJ and Sawyer’s vision and audiences to Vimeo.” Audiences are the critical word here. While Vimeo has won praise as a host to indie films and web series, it has never captured the same kind of audience loyalty enjoyed by rival YouTube. Targeting YouTube creators with lucrative deals is one way to import those audiences directly.