Fox Digital Studio Launches Digital Feature Films, Hopes to Use Them as ‘Pilots’

/ Mar 14, 2014

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Fox Digital Studio, the division within 20th Century Fox best known for creating short-form content as well as digital series like “Wolfpack of Reseda” and the Vin Diesel-starring “The Ropes,” is set to debut two new feature-length films.

That said, even with this push into feature-length territory, the studio still has an eye out for reformatting these projects into TV shows.

How to Be a Man” stars Vice Media co-founder Gavin McInnes as Mark, a former comedian who, after finding a lump “in his man-boob,” hires a cameraman to document important life lessons for his unborn son. On the path to teaching his unborn kid how to be a man, Mark naturally learns he has a lot to learn, too.

“How to Be a Man” is written by McInnes, Bryan Gaynor, and Chadd Harbold, and directed by Harbold. Terry Leonard produced.

The second feature, “ETXR,” focuses on a struggling DJ, Bix, played by Caleb Hunt, who reconnects with a former classmate, who has built a device that he claims can communicate with aliens. The classmate needs Bix’s help in understanding the sonic transmissions. Eventually this and Bix’s career as a DJ converge.

“ETXR” is written by Trevor Sands and Herb Ratner, and directed by Trevor Sands, with Gary Bryman producing. Cast includes Hunt, Jeremy Luke, Levi Fiehler, Lindsey Morgan, and Xander Berkeley.

Both films will be distributed via Netflix, Amazon, Xbox Live, and iTunes, with “How to Be a Man” premiering on March 15, and “ETXR” following two weeks later on March 30.

Both films are 90-minute features, and will be available as such on the aforementioned platforms. But, as FDS SVP of production David Worthen Brooks tells us, the studio is interested in both properties living well beyond their initial feature-length “pilots.”

“We produce long-form digital content like a chapterized feature film, which can either be viewed as a sequence of eight serialized 12-minute shorts, or as one feature length film,” says Brooks. “It depends on how the publisher/distributor wants to exhibit the project and how the viewer wants to consume it.”

For its part, Netflix has been pushing more into original/exclusive “feature-length” projects since announcing its intentions in July. To date, the service has focused on documentary films and stand-up comedy specials, though, as the company’s content chief Ted Sarandos suggested during a speech at the Film Independent Forum, the service is very interested in the scripted feature film category.

“Eighteen months ago all the online publishers started asking us for longer form content,” says Brooks. Though he cautions: “Our made for digital features are only step one. The next step is to spin the characters and worlds of these features into half hour or one hour episodes.”

For Fox Digital Studio, similar to studios like Vuguru, the goal is to create a piece of property that can live across various formats, including the biggest screen in the house.

“We are developing more films like ‘How to Be a Man,’ which in effect act as pilots, setting up worlds and characters that can be spun into episodic series (half hour or hour longs),” he says.

In the pipeline? Horror films, which Brooks says are “in development.”

Here’s the trailer for “How to Be a Man”:

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