Seattle's Tom Skerritt, 84, has founded Heyou Media, a digital entertainment company.
Tom Skerritt made his film debut in “War Hunt” in 1962 and the television series “Combat!” that same year.
Fifty-six years later, Skerritt, 84, is still in the game. He has just launched Heyou Media, a digital media and content-aggregating company that plans to deliver three different products on various platforms: Mobile devices, online, video-on-demand, Amazon Prime and even small screens at gas stations.
“This is a new era and we’re positioning ourselves to bring some light to new media and digital entertainment,” the actor said the other day. “My frame of reference is as big as this room.”
Heyou captures much of what Skerritt has been working on — and fretting about — over the last several years. The company will allow him to create and deliver content outside of the Hollywood system, tap into the Northwest’s vast pool of creative talent, and bring to life the kinds of stories he nurtured as founder and instructor at The Film School — all while lifting audiences above the current political divide.
“I’ve been looking for this community to get ahold of itself and see how good it could be,” he said.
This week, the company is introducing three different products:
“Heyou Features” will bring episodic content to video-on-demand audiences, something Skerritt has already done with a locally produced series called “Stroller Gangs” that is now on Amazon Prime. Skerritt and his partners have optioned Northwest writer Gerald LaSalle’s “Widow Walk,” a historical saga in the style of “Game of Thrones” that is currently in production; and “East of the Mountains” about a terminally ill man’s road trip, by Bainbridge Island author David Guterson, best known for his first novel, “Snow Falling on Cedars.”
“Heyou Reimagined Classics” will use digital technology to update and deliver classic silent movies like Charlie Chaplin’s “The Immigrant” and “The Fireman.” The films are enhanced, edited down and scored with current music such Billy Harvey’s “We Are Giants” and speech bubbles. The short pieces are currently available for view on Heyou’s website, Facebook and Instagram.
“Mini. Mobile. Movies.” will gather a global library of diverse short-form content — some as short as one minute — for mobile and online viewing. Heyou will announce titles in the next few months.
In the case of the “Reimagined Classics,” the company is dipping into the public domain and taking what Heyou CEO Mary Jesse described as “existing content that is under-used,” to create something new.
“These are iconic filmmakers,” Jesse said. “Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd. We feel it’s important to preserve these creative works and perpetuate the artists.
“They were innovators and entrepreneurs in media,” she continued. “And we see a great parallel between that time and today, as media is evolving.”
Skerritt, who is headed to New York this spring to appear onstage on Broadway in “Straight White Men” with Armie Hammer, is thrilled to still be learning and heading into the digital frontier.
“Isn’t that wonderful? I love that,” he said the other day. “Every day, I’m wrong. And I relish that. I just don’t have the ego that gives a crap.”