Chris Weitz, co-director of “American Pie” and one of the producers of Ms. Cohen’s film, credits the shift to technology that puts audiences in control.
“It was one thing when the gatekeepers, usually old fogs, controlled the type of content that was going to be played on the teens,” he said. “Now teens can get all kinds of content on their own, which gives them a greater sense of truth than anything any feature film producer would conceive of. “
With this landscape in mind, Mr. Garelick decided to make the films himself very cheaply. If done correctly, they could easily be piped to streaming platforms, which are constantly on the lookout for new material, especially content that appeals to the ever-elusive teenage audience.
He figured out that if he shot two films back to back in the same location, he could save a third of his production costs. If he drew three, he could save half of them. It could be like the now-defunct New Line movie studio, applying the “Lord of the Rings” cost-cutting method to the world of teen comedy. Peter Jackson relied on New Zealand’s verdant landscape for his Hobbit-focused epic.
Mr. Garelick is said to 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. No one there makes them. Now is the time to get started. “
In today’s complex content ecosystem, studios are spending more and more to bring mainstream audiences to theaters with blockbuster franchise movies while streamers are primarily trying to keep their fragmented audiences glued to their services. by offering niche content. Teen comedies might not have consistent business potential for studios, but Mr. Garelick believed that if he could deliver a consistent stream of movies, a streaming service would surely bite. And if he found a place where he could take advantage of tax incentives granted by local governments, his dollars would go further and he could benefit from the support of the local community.
First of all, he needed a school, something brick and majestic, both inhabited but also easily adaptable to any high school scene. He thought of the basic sets in almost all teenage comedies: a school gymnasium, cafeteria, classrooms, hallways, auditorium.