Website for Frat Kids to Become Raunchy Feature Film (Video)
A couple of years ago, a pair of media veterans made the unusual move of purchasing the movie rights to a little-known website called TotalFratMove.com.
With traffic having surged from 10,000 unique visitors a month back then to 1.6 million nowadays, the time is right to shoot and release the film, say the executives, Bob Sanitsky and Brian Ross.
The pair have raised $3.5 million through traditional sources and are pursuing $300,000 more through a crowd-funding campaign at Indiegogo.com, says Sanitsky, a former head of worldwide TV at ICM who has represented Norman Lear, Rosie O’Donnell and others. Last year, Sanitsky created Digerati Films with Brian Ross, who owned Highway Entertainment until selling it to Omnicom Group. Digerati is producing the film, appropriately titled Total Frat Movie.
The TotalFratMove website was created by Texas fraternity brothers Madison Wickham and Ryan Young as an online destination “for young, white, rich, Southern Republicans – the privileged people who become our presidents,” according to Ross.
The site consists of content about university Greek life, or that would simply appeal to fraternity and sorority members (47 percent of the site’s visitors are female). Beyond the expected amount of sexual debauchery, videos like one of a guy catching a baseball in his beer cup then chugging down the beer are popular.
While a book, Total Frat Move, has already debuted No. 7 on the New York Times bestseller list, Total Frat Movie will be based on an original script about a group of former pledges who try to resurrect a fraternity after a heinous act results in its suspension.
Filmmakers promise a movie so raunchy it will make National Lampoon’s Animal House look like a Pixar film, and they say it will portray pampered right-wingers in an unusually positive light.
“The charm is that these Southern, conservative, God-fearing, gun-toting, patriotic Americans leave the bosom of their mother and go crazy. It’s George W. Bush and Rick Perry in college,” says Sanitsky.
“Typically, frat movies come at it from nerds trying to infiltrate. We’re taking the top-tier kids who were born with silver spoons in their mouths and making them the protagonists while every other frat movie has made them the villains,” he adds.
Fraternity movies have a long history in Hollywood, and the successful ones are well known. Besides Animal House in 1978, there was Old School in 2003 and Revenge of the Nerds in 1984, for example. But Wikipedia lists 64 films in the genre, and most of them would be considered forgettable failures.
Ross and Sanitsky say to break through the clutter on a small budget they’re relying heavily on the Internet. They’ll cast some YouTube stars, for example, who are also expected to promote the film through some of their online videos. Plus, the Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign is partially a marketing ploy in itself, hence a “trailer” at the site that amounts to a spoof of Argo – with a quick appearance from John Belushi and music by Aerosmith. (See the video below.)
Those who contribute at Indiegogo – where $69,000 has been pledged thus far – are promised perks, like auditions to be in the movie, your photo in the end credits and, for $2,500, three days of shadowing the production and four nights in a hotel.
Sanitsky says DeWayne Jessie, the singer from Otis Day and the Knights, the band that performed "Shout" in Animal House, has reached out to him so that he will now make an appearance in Total Frat Movie. The iconic scene where Jessie performs in Animal House remains so popular users have attempted to re-create it on the Internet. See one of the more detailed efforts below.
Also, energy drinks, liquor and fast-food brands have contacted the filmmakers, so expect some serious product-placement aimed at college students.
Ross and Sanitsky say the independent movie will begin filming in the fall for a summer or fall 2014 release, though there is no director or distributor attached.