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The popular Facebook group Subtle Asian Traits has inspired a television series.
Jumpcut, a new studio launched earlier this month, is developing the project, which takes its name from the group dedicated to memes about the Asian diaspora experience. The college-set narrative will be penned by Ivan Tsang and Justin R. Ching and produced by John Zhang alongside Jumpcut.
Zhang, a former development associate at Justin Lin’s Perfect Storm Entertainment and an alumnus of the Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment’s Leaders Fellowship, secured the right to shop a project about Subtle Asian Traits from its nine Chinese-Australian founders, who were in high school when they started the group in 2018. He brought the concept to Tsang and Ching, who developed a story, and the latter took it to Jumpcut head of development Winnie Kemp, who was formerly a development executive at CBS Films and Super Deluxe.
That’s one of the ways in which Jumpcut sources projects, but the studio stands out for another, more unusual approach: using an algorithm to identify stories and storytellers that have elicited a particular level of online engagement. Jumpcut founder and CEO Kartik Hosanagar tells The Hollywood Reporter that the algorithm isn’t just scouting for raw quantitative metrics but rather is able to sift for “strong filmed entertainment” and “emotional reaction.” A second proprietary process tests narrative concepts for resonance among various audience types.
For its storytellers that Jumpcut finds outside the traditional pipeline, the company runs a six-week incubator program with experienced mentors such as Lawrence Bender to get their projects ready for market. Jumpcut has already sold a project in India, and Subtle Asian Traits joins two other scripted series that the company is developing and is planning to take to market this summer:
- Jack 9, a sci-fi action thriller from emerging writer Barrington Smith-Seetachit and TV scribe Adam Starks (Home Before Dark, On My Block). Emmy-winning producer Shelby Stone (Bessie) mentored the project durings its time in the Jumpcut incubator and remains attached as a co-producer alongside Freedom Road Productions’ Derek Dudley.
- An untitled sci-fi Western from Queen of the South executive producer Scott Rosenbaum. As a television veteran, Rosenbaum did not need the identifying algorithm or the incubator, but Hosanagar says the project still benefited from the proprietary testing process.
“The data is a tool; it doesn’t replace the human,” says Hosanagar, who also serves as professor of operations, information and decisions at The Wharton School. “It gives us insights into what storytellers to pay attention to and brings the audience in to let them have a say.”
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