ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 5.7 - OCTOBER 2000
A Ride Worth Taking: MediaTrip On The Move
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Mark Brooks and Peter Gilstrap, creators of Lil' Pimp and Creamburg.
New Roads to Travel
MediaTrip's first home-grown project to make the major leap from the Internet to feature films will be Lil' Pimp. In August, Revolution Studios announced its theatrical pickup of the series after inking the deal with co-creators Peter Gilstrap and Mark Brooks -- who will write, direct and produce the full-length, Flash-produced motion picture at their Gifted Men Productions. Gilstrap and Brooks first met up while working as columnist and art director, respectively, on a major weekly newspaper several years ago. Brooks first approached Gilstrap with drawings and ideas he had on a concept that would later become their other hit MediaTrip series Creamburg. Working with Gilstrap at night, Brooks animated over a 7 week period to complete a 23-minute pilot which was eventually optioned by cable caster HBO. Austin Harrison, aware of the Creamburg tape, contacted the duo about its availability for the then forming MediaTrip.com. With that show still tied up with HBO, Brooks and Gilstrap went home and quickly brainstormed the Lil' Pimp concept. Within 24 hours, they were back in MediaTrip's offices presenting their new series creation. The Netcaster pounced on the fresh idea and later, when it became available, picked up Creamburg for series, as well. For a co-ownership stake, MediaTrip has funded the two Gifted Men projects and all parties couldn't be happier with the shared trajectory of their relationship -- especially since Creamburg is also now being seriously considered within Revolution Studios as a television cross-over property.
© 1999-2000 MediaTrip.com, Inc. All rights reserved.
From art studies at Colorado University to designing album covers, Brooks has harbored a long-standing love of animation. "I really wanted to make animated films," he laughs, "but I just didn't want to draw that much!" Once Flash became a reality, he took to the new technology with a vengeance. He and Gilstrap have written, drawn, animated, voiced nearly every one of their characters and produced all of the music for their various series (both have a substantial history and current place on the music scene). By today's date, that totals approximately 26 Webisodes of Creamburg, 48 Lil' Pimps, as well as six shows for their series Adventure Men, which is running now on iFuse.com. Accomplishing all of this in only the past eleven months, these two creators have established themselves as walking-definitions of major Internet entertainment auteurs. Located at Hollywood and Vine, their studio will have to expand to handle the creative and production aspects of their first feature film. Brooks acknowledges, "There's just so many parts (of filmmaking) that we kind of gloss over when we're doing these 3 minute shows but there's stuff you need to pump up if you're going to put it onto a screen that large." Animating within Flash but at 30 frames, Brooks feels their work will transfer nicely to the bigger medium, adding, "The backgrounds will all be painted offline so it will have a painterly look, almost like an old-school '40s or '50s cartoon." More relevant than the technical issues faced in any production format, Brooks believes, is the whole entertainment approach one adopts in any creative endeavor. "The question is can you draw or can you not draw, can you tell a story or can you not tell a story, can you act or can you not act. To me, that's more important than the technology, really -- just the ability to make stuff interesting."
New Content on the Road
Gathering more steam, MediaTrip announced in late summer its partnership with comedian Adam Sandler and producer Jack Giarraputo to develop an entertainment destination called Shnorff.com. Working together, the two entities will create original Web content including episodic shows, animation, games and shorts for sole distribution on the new co-branded site. Joe Roth's Revolution, who helped facilitate the deal, will have first-look rights for Schnorff's online creative properties. Still in the development stages, this new venture serves as an illustration of the opportunities now presenting themselves to Harrison's still youthful Netcasting company. And whether it's with known or newly developing artists, Harrison feels one of MediaTrip's greatest strengths is that, "We try to really get behind the creative people we work with. We're definitely a viable place for artists to take their work to the next level."
Harrison speaks from a wealth of experience as well, having begun his new media career as early as 1995 when entertainment on the Net was just beginning. In true pioneer fashion, he produced online broadcast concerts for the famous Whiskey-A-Go-Go before there was even any appreciable audience booted-up to tune in. He then did a two-year stint as Director of New Media for CARAT, the world's largest media agency, where he learned and honed his skills in marketing and advertising for emerging media concerns. In 1998, he jumped back to the content creation side by taking the producing reins for Hollywood.com. While there, he was instrumental in raising revenue to an all-time high, doubling per month users and managing all production staff and editorial content. Leaving there to start MediaTrip's voyage in May of 1999, Harrison's new online journey has been both arduous and highly rewarding.
The Trip Ahead
Though constantly investigating the surplus of technical and creative possibilities his company and partnerships present -- in marketing, distribution to known and emerging technologies, creative advertising and more -- Harrison says right now his main focus remains "on building compelling Internet experiences." Confident in the spontaneous atmosphere of today's entertainment evolution, he continues to show an unerring eye for finding the creations that are attractive across many different and complimentary platforms. Harrison makes his way into MediaTrip each morning excited by that task. He says with a smile, "It's always like: what's another thing we can do on our Website that is entertaining to our users? Because that's the challenge, that's the drive, that's why you wake up day to day is to entertain people, you know? That's the real kick."
Lee Dannacher, currently based in New York, is a supervising producer and sound track director of over 350 half-hours of television animated series, along with numerous home video and film productions.
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