Drawing on edgier sensibilities it developed while producing adult-targeted webisodes like Dead Critics’ Society for Atom Films and Joe’s Bar for iFilm, Cincinnati-based Eyepoxy is now trying its hand at younger-skewing content.
Inspired by continued WWF-mania and the recent BattleBot phenomenon, Eyepoxy founder and president George White and writers from MainBrain Productions in L.A. (best known for an episode of Malcolm in the Middle) have put together Xtreme Bot Smackdown, a Flash-animated pilot for tweens featuring robotic cage matches from the Xtreme Bot Federation (XBF). With each three- to four-minute episode budgeted at between US$15,000 and US$30,000, the concept offers battles to the scrap heap, with color commentary by a robot that doubles as the ref. The first episode, ‘Engage the Rage: Platehead vs. Crankshaft,’ ran on Yahoo Broadcast in September, and the partners are working up another five scripts for Internet syndication.
Preschool Protocops skews a little younger and is tagged ‘The Powerpuff Girls meets The A-Team meets Star Wars.’ A three-minute pilot called ‘The Clash of the Toddlers,’ featuring five super-tots who have been trained as Earth’s intergalactic protectors, is currently running on Eyepoxy.com. Preschool Protocops is being further developed as a co-venture between Eyepoxy and U.K.-based Timehead for the Internet, but the concept is being angled for TV spin-off. ‘It has an affection for all things ’80s,’ says White, ‘serving as an homage to the glory days of those awesome Saturday morning half-hour toy commercials like Thundercats, He-Man and Transformers.’ Five more episodes are in the pipeline to go into production once a TV or Internet series deal is signed.
Webisodes created for Internet distribution don’t carry much inherent licensed value, so White not only develops other digital properties (greetings and games), but also works with three revenue streams in mind: syndication fees, sponsorships and the ability to sell the product to TV. Syndication is evidenced by the company’s relationship with Yahoo Broadcast, Lycos and Atom Films. As far as sponsorship goes, White is looking to set up models based on the old soap structures with companies whose products really match the web content. He’d like to get youth-oriented drinks and snack foods for Xtreme Bot Smackdown, and cereal and apparel for Protocops. And while no formal relationship has been established between Eyepoxy and Proctor & Gamble, White does talk to the brand management icon constantly, trying to work contextually relevant product placement into the sponsorship model.