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For anyone familiar with the seven-year-old production and distribution company, the recent announcement that My Damn Channel would be rebranding as Omnivision Entertainment was a surprising switch. The bigger surprise? That it would begin taking a management role in talent.
Founded in 2007 by Rob Barnett and Warren Chao, My Damn Channel began as the home of premium comedy content created by established talent like The Simpsons‘s Harry Shearer and The State‘s David Wain. But it was also a major factor in building Grace Helbig into a cross-platform star and supporting Mark Malkoff in developing his trademark hilarious stunts.
“We concentrated on quality over quantity, and worked with established as well as new and emerging talent,” Barnett said in a phone interview.
Now, emerging talent is becoming a bigger piece of the puzzle, as with the Omnivision reveal came the announcement that the new banner would be providing “360 degree service” for Sara Maria Forsberg, a Finnish YouTuber (s GOOG) who broke out last month with the videos What Languages Sound Like To Foreigners and One Girl, 14 Genres.
“When [What Languages Sound Like to Foreigners] came out, it was obvious from first contact that we were one of many many other people looking to do something with her,” Barnett said.
But Chao apparently had “a fire in [his] belly” and was able to gain her trust and sign her on the dotted line on March 30th. Forsberg has since made her American TV debut on Ellen, and plans are in the works to sign her a deal with a “major music label.” Forsberg is just about to turn 20 years old.
“It’s really a joy to see how well it can go sometimes, when somebody puts their all into meeting the world,” Barnett said. “We felt like it would be really important for us to put all of what we’ve done in our careers, and everything we’ve learned, into helping her build what we think will be a ginormous entertainment career.”
Omnivision is open to taking on other clients like Forsberg, but similar to My Damn Channel’s content strategy, will continue to be very selective. “We can’t do a hundred of them at once,” he said. “They won’t get the care and attention they deserve to get things right.”
While Forsberg is being represented as an Omnivision client, that doesn’t mean that My Damn Channel doesn’t still exist — according to Barnett, his team is as committed to the My Damn Channel brand and its content as they’ve been for the last seven years.
But it now functions under the Omnivision umbrella. Why make that change? Recently, the company has been branching out into brand-specific campaigns, including Aetna and Disney (s DIS), the latter of which saw Malkoff “in search of his Disney side” to promote Disney’s parks.
“The management company and team have been able to create noise-making productions that get a lot of attention. But doing it only under the My Damn Channel brand was limiting,” Barnett said.
In addition, the company is moving into television production, with its first series, Videocracy, in development with HLN for its 2014 slate. “More than ever in the last 8 years, the world of digital and the world of traditional are doing a lot more dancing,” Barnett said.
“It’s a really wild time right now,” he added. “It used to be there would be eight or nine months before a huge deal would happen. Now, it’s every eight or nine hours.”