Virtual Artists, Inc: writers and geeks team up to bypass the studios

Hollywood writers and Silicon Valley geeks are teaming up to create startups like Virtual Artists modelled on the original United Artists, in which artists own and operate the studio:

Some writers are now taking matters into their own hands, using their downtime to meet with venture backers, other writers and technologists.

"We should show the studios some gratitude for getting us together," said "Rain Man" coauthor Ron Bass, a member of the WGA's negotiating committee and an investor and director of Virtual Artists. "This is not just an Internet play, but the beginning of what the future is going to look like."

About 20 entertainment and software writers are investing an average of $10,000 for a chunk of Virtual Artists. Co-founded by Aaron Mendelsohn, a screenwriter who created "Air Bud," Virtual Artists plans to fund projects as varied as shorts and feature-length movies. Its other investors include star television writer Tom Fontana of "Homicide" and "Oz"; "Hotel Rwanda" co-writer and director Terry George; "Chicken Run" screenplay author Karey Kirkpatrick; and John Logan, writer of "Sweeney Todd" and "The Aviator." Susannah Grant, who wrote "Erin Brockovich," and Warren Leight, who runs the TV show "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," also have agreed to invest.

Link to LA Times story, Link to Virtual Artists, Inc (Thanks, Henri!)

See also: Striking writers talk of launching web startups


  1. This is going to be one of the great, unexpected benefits of the studios screwing over their work force.

    Much like artists and content creators are really beginning to usurp the power of the RIAA and it’s distribution channels, the next r/evolution in media creation and distribution will come as much from the failings of the powers that be, as it will the drive of the individuals, that until now were stuck in that system.

    There is something satisfying in watching these dinosaurs write their own obituaries.

    Also: never thought I would be so excited about a venture from the creator of “Air Bud”.

  2. Don’t worry, it didn’t take the original United Artists to become just another monster studio. And since politcs rule, it won’t take another group long before Who’s on Top politics ruins whatever creativity trys to emerge. Hollywood kills everything that’s good.

  3. …Most important suggestion: bar *ANY* Mafi…er…”union” activities. They’re proving once again that they’ve long exceeded their need, and now serve not to protect their members from being exploited, but to make far more money than they’re worth while working far less *AND* keeping out new talent as part of a job protection scam.

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