Judy McGrath's Astronauts Wanted Launches Transmedia Incubator

Courtesy of Astronauts Wanted
Flight Club's inaugural class

Flight Club's first project debuts Monday.

Astronauts Wanted, the digital studio joint venture of former MTV CEO Judy McGrath and Sony Music Entertainment, has tapped five up-and-coming social media stars to experiment with transmedia storytelling. 

The company is launching an incubator program, called Flight Club, that is intended to boost the profile of these creators while also exploring how multiple online mediums can be used to tell one story. 

Nick Shore, chief creative strategist at Astronauts Wanted, says Flight Club's inaugural class was selected in the same way as someone would cast a play. "We mixed and matched them together so we knew they would work well together," he explains, adding that Flight Club specifically looked for up-and-coming creators who are on the verge of breaking out. 

The class features Viner Carly Incontro and YouTubers Jade Hilliard, Alex Vergel, Erin Gilfoy and Joshua Santos. Together they have worked on Midsømmer, a gender-bending, non-linear take on Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream that plays out on Vine, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat and Facebook Video.

The project, which launches Monday, takes place at the house of artist Alexa Meade and her boyfriend, Chris, who play versions of themselves. In this rendition, the high-class Athenians from the classic tale are YouTubers who share their stories via video on Facebook and YouTube, while the fairies' story takes place on Instagram and the carpenters who put on the play-within-a-play are Viners. The story also plays out in real time on Snapchat. All of the story elements are being combined on the Midsømmer Tumblr page. 

"There's such an explosion of different platforms and ways of interacting with content over social platforms," says Shore. "The incubator was thought up in the context of how storytelling is going to evolve in a cross-platform world, with the main story being told on one platform and ancillary stories being told on a second platform."

Flight Club plans to launch several tentpole projects like Midsømmer and will cast a new class in October for the next project. 

Astronauts Wanted was behind YouTube Red documentary A Trip to Unicorn Island as well as fan-led travel series Hey USA starring Grace Helbig and Mamrie Hart.