A Ride Worth Taking: MediaTrip On The Move

by Lee Dannacher

Last year, while mulling over domain names for his soon-to-launch Internet venture, Austin Harrison (Chairman, CEO and Co-Founder) was playing around with the word "media" when he happened to screen a Doors DVD. He remembers listening to the interview with Jim Morrison where the rocker, "was just talking about the future of music being a river of electronic sounds and, you know, taking a trip into a new generation of music." Facing his own imminent trip into a new generation of online fare, Harrison nimbly configured his two key words into the perfect symbol for his group's bold new journey. Moniker now in hand, was ready to roll.

Austin Harrison, Chairman, CEO and Co-Founder of

The Trip Takes Off
Starting out as a platform for alternative entertainment content, MediaTrip hit the Netwaves last October with a library of independent films including the now infamous live-action comedy short George Lucas In Love. Directed by Joe Nussbaum, the very funny 9-minute spoof proved an instant online hit, quickly setting a record for the most-watched online short with 150,000 streams in the first three weeks. MediaTrip later, in an exclusive partnership with, released the film on video and achieved the number one sales position on the e-trailer's charts. This deal, Harrison noted at the time, "proves how the Internet can successfully provide a multi-platform revenue opportunity for a filmmaker."

Also included on MediaTrip's nascent site were feature-length films such as the Academy Award winning documentary The Long Way Home and Things I Never Told You starring Lili Taylor and Debi Mazar. In addition to the film library, the new dot-com premiered with -- and continues Netcasting -- trailers and clips from an array of current movies, celebrity interviews, music videos, streaming audio, artist-hosted radio stations, entertainment news and live concert performance footage.

"We tried to provide somewhat of an eclectic experience starting out," Harrison says, and therefore a fistful of original programming was available at the launch. In the live-action genre, there were weekly shows such as No Drink Minimum, featuring short routines from up-and-coming comics and Tattoo TV, a documentary series surrounding the world of body art. On the animation side, MediaTrip garnered instant Net effect with an original, smashingly funny project from Peter Gilstrap and Mark Brooks entitled Lil' Pimp, a Flash produced Web series based on a street-corner character whom the creators describe as a "polite, cute, nine years old, and one heck of a pimp."

© 1999-2000, Inc. All rights reserved.

Rolling Forward
Traveling at Net speed into the new millennium, MediaTrip continued acquiring exclusive online rights to innovative independent films including the CGI animated shorts Los Gringos and Sentinelles. Increasing their line-up of original shows, they soon premiered two more animated Web series to great audience response: Creamburg, a second creation from Gilstrap and Brooks, featuring an out-there snack food spokesfigure dealing in the cut throat world of Tinsel Town and Ed Testy, from creator John Whelan, which follows the trials of an angry white(trash) homeowner after his personality is transported into the body of a crash-landed alien. With increasing velocity, a loyal Net audience in MediaTrip's targeted 18-49 age range began gathering behind the site's burgeoning alternative fare.

© 1999-2000, Inc. All rights reserved.

Revving Up The Engine
Early in the New Year, Hollywood executive/superagent Arnold Rifkin joined MediaTrip's Board of Directors. With strong relationships across the spectrum of today's entertainment worlds, Rifkin brought what Harrison describes as "key strategic guidance" to the young company's evolutionary process. Bridging a few "degrees of separation," Rifkin led the youthful CEO to a destined meeting with Joe Roth, the former Chairman of Walt Disney Studios, who was just then announcing the formation of his new independent Revolution Studios.

At the beginning of last summer, Harrison and Roth publicized the formation of a long-range strategic partnership. Their unique industry relationship will encompass a magnitude of possibilities for creating formulas linking the Web and traditional media's television, film, marketing, production and publicity. To optimize their association and facilitate close cross-consideration for all projects being worked on by both companies, MediaTrip will move under the same roof of Revolution's soon-to-be-completed 65,000 square-foot Santa Monica complex early next year.


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