Chris Weitz, co-director of “American Pie” and one of the producers of Ms. Cohen’s film, attributes the change to technology that puts the public in control.
“It was one thing when the gatekeepers, usually nebulous old folks, controlled what kind of content was going to be posted about teens,” he said. “Now teens can get all kinds of self-created content about themselves, which gives them a greater sense of truth than anything any feature film producer could prepare.”
With that scenario in mind, Mr. Garelick decided to make the films on his own in a really inexpensive way. Done right, they could easily be funneled to streaming platforms, which are constantly on the lookout for new material, especially content that appeals to the ever-elusive teen audience.
He realized that if he shot two movies in a row in one location, he could save a third of his production costs. If he shot three, he could save half. It could be like the now-defunct New Line movie studio, applying the cost-saving method of “The Lord of the Rings” to the world of teen comedy. Peter Jackson relied on the green landscape of New Zealand for his Hobbit-driven epic.
Mr. Garelick would have an abandoned school.
“That’s when I had my ‘aha moment,'” he said. “This is how I’m going to make my high school movies. Nobody is doing them. Now is the time to start. “
In today’s complex content ecosystem, studios are spending more and more to attract the general public to theaters with blockbuster franchise films, while streamers are primarily trying to keep their fragmented audiences glued to their services by offering niche content. . Teen comedies may not have enough consistent commercial potential for studios, but Garelick figured that if he could deliver a constant stream of movies, surely a streaming service would work. And if you found a place where you could take advantage of tax incentives provided by local governments, your money would go further and you could benefit from the support of the local community.
First, it needed a school, something brick and stately, at the same time inhabited but also easily adaptable to any high school scene. He thought of the basic settings for almost all teen comedies: a school gym, a cafeteria, classrooms, hallways, an auditorium.