60Frames clicks for UTA, Spot

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UTA and Internet marketing agency Spot Runner are launching 60Frames Entertainment, aiming to connect the growing world of professional Web auteurs with financing, syndication and advertising.

The company will exclusively focus on original Internet content and to that end have signed filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen as its first announced clients.

Brent Weinstein, who headed UTA's digital media department and its online division, will be leaving the agency to be the CEO of the new company, which has raised $3.5 million in Series A financing from Tudor Investment Corp. and Robert Pittman's Pilot Group.

"Last year, UTA recognized that the online marketplace was exploding and (that) there needed to be a better resource for artists in that space," Weinstein said.

"Both UTA and Spot Runner were looking for the same thing, and having not found it, they went about building it."

Initially, 60Frames will focus on shortform comedic material, later branching into such other formats as drama or education. The content will come mostly from artists active in film and television, in contrast with UTA's online division, which focuses on breaking new talent.

Weinstein said that 60Frames will be "distribution agnostic" and will focus on getting content into the platform that best suits it, whether major media portals, peer-to-peer sites or mobile phones.

Weinstein emphasized that UTA will have "no formal role" going forward in 60Frames but that he hopes they "will support what we're doing." The agency, though, helped to form the company and give it shape as a "desirable and talent-friendly environment," according to UTA partner and board member Jeremy Zimmer.

"Hypothetically, we'll continue to remain involved," Zimmer said. "Hopefully, our influence will be to help it not just remain relevant but really to keep it on the cutting edge."

While working at UTA, Weinstein found that many professional artists wanted to make content for the growing Web marketplace. Monetization and distribution on the platform remain challenging endeavors, though.

"Artists were being asked to give up a lot," Weinstein said. "We wanted to create a mechanism so that artists know that they are going to have a piece of the upside."

Weinstein said this includes giving the content creators a part of the ad dollars, rights to their projects, financing and help with pitching their product and getting it into the right distribution channels.

While UTA and Spot Runner will maintain minority interests in 60Frames, UTA will not have operational control. Spot Runner will continue to stay actively involved in 60Frames, devoting a sales force to help monetize the 60Frames content and to get advertisers on board.

"Spot Runner is very much focused on revolutionizing the way advertising is created, targeted and bought and sold," Spot Runner CEO Nick Grouf said. "This is allowing us to participate in creation of some high-quality content."

Grouf said that he has been speaking with advertisers about 60Frames and that they are "very excited."

"I don't know of another company that's focused on marrying all of the challenges of the creative side with the technological side of the business," Grouf said. "That's a very exciting partnership."

With backing from the Pilot Group in place, 60Frames has secured financing from one of the most high-profile names in Web investment. The group, led by MTV co-founder and former Time Warner-AOL COO Robert Pittman, also has provided financing for Herb Scannell's Next New Networks venture, music blog Stereogum and shopping site Daily Candy.
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