Filmmaker Jon Avnet, who has worked on films such as “Risky Business” and “Black Swan” has launched a new fully integrated digital studio, which aims to deliver original, high-profile, premium half-hour and hour-long content to digital platforms. Jon is setting up Indigenous Media alongside his son, Jake Avnet and fellow filmmaker Rodrigo Garcia, with whom he also previously launched the WIGS studio. The venture is being backed by WPP, the global advertising behemoth and ITV, Britain's oldest and largest broadcasting network, who will contribute their advertising and distribution expertise respectively. Jon Miller, former digital media chief of New Corp, will also be joining Indigenous Media as non-executive chairman and other investors in the venture include Steven Tisch of Shari Redstone's Advancit Capital; Simpsons writer Michael Price; and Dr. Aaron Stern.
The venture is being backed by WPP, the global advertising behemoth and ITV, Britain's oldest and largest broadcasting network
The WIGS web channel is a part of the YouTube Original Channel Initiative, and is a female-centric channel based around short films that follow the lives of different women. The channel has been a huge success for the trio, with Hollywood stars such as Anna Paquin, maggie Grace, Jennifer Garner and Julia Stiles starring in their own series. The series features Stiles, which is called “Blue,” and is based around a mother with a secret life as an escort, has even been picked up by Hulu and Fox.com. The success of WIGS proves that the Avnet's and Garcia know what they're doing when it comes to delivering premium online content, but the idea with the new studio is to expand beyond short films into longer-form entertainment.
An example of WIGS programming – Susanna (Episode 1)
Peter Tortorici, CEO of WPP's GroupM Entertainment Global, approached the trio about the potential of forming a new studio for scripted content on digital platforms shortly after the initial launch of WIGS. He said “Jon, Rodrigo and Jake have been first-movers in executing at the highest levels of scripted content in this space and have the means, relationships and commitment to take their efforts to scale.” He adds that he is looking forward “To helping them get there." Paul Buccieri, chairman of ITV Studios adds that "Indigenous is a forward looking, multi platform provider of premium content, and as such, is a perfect strategic fit for ITV."
The success of WIGS proves that the Avnet's and Garcia know what they're doing when it comes to delivering premium online content
Avnet Senior said of the new venture that "Having a distribution entity and production entity under one roof” is very unique, and thinks they can build it into something even bigger, which will include high-quality scripted dramas, comedies and more. Garcia, meanwhile, says they are thrilled about collaborating with ITV and WPP to “Create new opportunities for top-notch writers and directors to tell their stories in this exciting new world.” As far as WIGS is concerned, meanwhile, the channel will continue to operate in association with Fox and Indigenous will provide extra funding to the channel. Kiliaen Van Rensselaer, senior VP of multi platform programming for FOX, said they have been “Impressed with Jon and Rodrigo’s ability to tell compelling stories and the intensity of consumer appetite for the series on FOX verticals, Hulu, and YouTube,” and are “Fired up to be supporting WIGS in its next phase of growth.”
Benjamin Hiorns is a freelance writer and musician from Kidderminster in the UK who loved a good Netflix binge so is interested to see where this new venture takes the digital streaming revolution.