One of Hollywood's most successful producers is coming out of retirement to tap into a giant new market opportunity: smartphone videos.

Jack Giarraputo, a former partner at Adam Sandler's Happy Madison Productions whose films have grossed more than $3.5 billion, recently co-founded the on-demand editing service UrLife with Ryan Hegenberger, the founder of film marketing agency Big Picture Entertainment. The six-person company turns smartphone videos and photos from vacations, birthday parties, and other life events into Hollywood-quality movie trailers. UrLife's Los Angeles-based team works with roughly 50 movie and TV editors who add things like music and voice-over narration to produce flashy videos that customers can even request changes to after seeing an initial rough cut. The company launched its mobile app last week.

"People have the pain point of having so many pictures and video on their phone and not really any way to curate it," Giarraputo says. UrLife's most affordable product is a one-minute video, for which the company charges $295. A two and a half-minute video costs $595, and the company charges $995 for a five-minute video. If that sounds like a tough sell, it's worth noting that most consumers today have more video and photo content on their mobile devices than ever before.

"More pictures were taken in 2015 than in the entire 20th century," Josh Elman, a partner at Silicon Valley venture firm Greylock Partners  wrote in a Medium post last December. "With so much content flowing through, we have to be able to preserve the best stuff."

Despite the glut of smartphone videos and photos that's growing by the day, Giarraputo concedes that the cost of UrLife's products will likely prevent them from having widespread consumer appeal.

"I wish it was for everyone, but I think it's going to be more of a premium product," he says, adding that most customers will probably view the service as a worthwhile add-on expense to a significant trip or vacation. "If you go to Hawaii and spend $15,000, you might as well spend another $500 to have the memory of it and document it like this." 

UrLife projects that customers with two kids might use the service roughly six times per year, between birthdays, holidays, and two annual trips. Giarraputo likens the personal editing service to having a personal chef or trainer.

"Back in the 1980s, you'd never heard of a personal trainer, then Madonna had one and it became a thing," he says. "I think we're just on the cusp of the personal editor becoming a term that people know." Giarraputo is also in talks with resort hotels that are considering offering the service to high-end clients. 

UrLife splits its revenue with its team of editors, but Giarraputo declined to disclose details of the breakdown. The company has raised a $500,000 seed round from individual investors including  Paramount Pictures vice chairman Rob Moore and record executive Kevin Liles, former executive vice president of Warner Music Group. Giarraputo says the company plans to raise a Series A sometime in the fall.

While UrLife hasn't been around long enough to thoroughly test the market, Giarraputo says that children are likely going to be some of the company's greatest advocates. "Once kids see it, they want it," he says. "Now I have to do a video for every trip we do." 

Published on: Feb 29, 2016