Almost two years after going public with their intentions to partner on content creation, James Franco and Maker Studios have unveiled a slate of original videos.
The series are the result of a collaboration between Rabbit Bandini Productions (the prodco owned by Franco and Vince Jolivette) and the Disney-owned multi-channel network, and were first announced at the 2014 NewFronts in New York.
According to Maker reps, the actor and MCN have worked together for the past 18 months to identify and produce the stories under the network’s Maker Labs’ initiative, which exists to pair Maker’s own production team with high-profile creative talent.
In this case, the stories, which are available now for binge watching, range from short form (five minutes) to 10 minutes or longer:
- Sex Scenes is a docu-series to run on Facebook that follows a master acting class taught by Franco at Studio 4, where he teaches students how to write, direct and act in intimate scenes (16 episodes, each five minutes);
- Studio 4 Acting Class is a competition-based reality series involving actors (to live on Facebook, nine episodes, each eight minutes long);
- The Ultimate Evil, a scripted series on YouTube that tells the story of investigative journalist Maury Terry as he followed the Son of Sam murders in New York in the 1970s (five episodes, each 10 minutes) ; and
- Winesburg, a collection of short films based on Sherwood Anderson’s book of the same name (to live on YouTube, six episodes, various lengths).
The partnership is expected to bear more creative fruit in 2016, including LA Series, a scripted story about gang life in Los Angeles; the previously announced Camp, a coming-of-age story adapted from Franco’s Palo Alto: Stories; and Tenn, a full-length digital film chronicling the family struggles of playwright and author Tennessee Williams. It will star Vincent D’Onofrio (Jurassic World, Daredevil) and Beth Grant (The Mindy Project, No Country For Old Men) and will be directed by Franco.
There was no further details available on the future projects — including project lengths or distribution platforms — at press time.
In addition to the content, Maker has also launched a James Franco app (called Rando Franco) on iOS and Android, to allow fans to access exclusive videos by Franco. Maker has created similar apps for its other star YouTube creators and channels, including PewDiePie, CaptainSparklez and Epic Rap Battles of History.
The programming follows on the heels of several new releases from Maker, including the animated series Story Time with Fat Jew, starring Josh Ostrovsky, and the animated series Pugatory, featuring Felix Kjellberg (PewDiePie) and Marzia Bizognin (CutiePieMarzia).
It also comes as the MCN undergoes some big changes in it’s leadership. Earlier this month it was announced that CEO Ynon Kreiz is leaving the company as of Jan. 11. He is to be replaced by Courtney Holt, who’s been named EVP and head of Maker Studios. In August, former chief content officer Erin McPherson left the MCN, as did former head of marketing, Jeremy Welt.
Watch episode one of The Ultimate Evil below: