SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Syracuse wasn’t a popular place for filmmaking until American High made it so, and now they are expanding into the digital world.
What started as a “regardless” idea right before the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) strikes has turned into another branch for the film studio called American High Digital Network that’s creating what they call “Gen Z SNL” skits.
According the Axelle Azoulay, head of American High Digital, “American High Shorts” is the film studio’s new creative venture that posts fun one-minute skits to TikTok, YouTube and Instagram featuring popular comedians and actors from those platforms.
“We find really, really funny people and put them in our movies. It’s kind of like a streamline of you start in the digital, we find the best funniest comedians, and we put them in our movies,” said Azoulay. “We started this in block systems where we used to do like five days where we would fly in comedians and then shoot for five days with 12 skits a day, and then post once every day. But since it got so much following, we started to move to full-time. So Monday we brainstorm, Tuesday we write the script, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, we shoot. We have editors that are editing constantly.”
Ryan Micho, an American High actor and comedian, said that the great thing about short-form videos is seeing how well they can perform and then using those same characters or actors in larger projects.
“That’s the great thing about short-form and you know TikTok and Instagram, we’re doing like 30-second clips, and then if that succeeds we can do YouTube and longer forms, and if that succeeds then we can put them in features, and that sort of thing,” said Micho.
This past summer, the film studio found comedians to join their skits, and then some of those comedians were featured in a movie they filmed at the time that hasn’t been announced yet.
“American High Shorts” now has a total of almost two million followers across social media platforms TikTok, Youtube and Instagram, and because of this, they decided to create yet another short-form venture.
In September, American High created “College Life,” which is essentially the same as “American High Shorts,” but the skits are about, you guessed it, college life and are performed on the Syracuse University campus and American High studio.
“It’s exactly the same thing but college content, so maybe there’s a world where we expand to college,” said Azoulay.
In terms of the future of this digital network, American High is building, they hope to continue with these skits, as it’s been very successful so far, and of course lots of fun.
“It’s really fun, like you’re having fun all day, and you’re with super funny people, so it’s a good time. Every day is a good day. Even when we’re shooting, it’s constant collaboration, you know, we are often deviating from it and finding it on scene.”
In terms of the future, Will Phelps, head of production at American High, says Syracuse and Central New York are on the map and will continue to be as the calls from Hollywood are now coming to them.
“We’re on the map for sure. Central New York is a great place to shoot, and we’re not making the calls anymore. The calls are coming to us saying ‘Can we come shoot in Syracuse?’ So it’s happening.”
To learn more about American High, visit their website.