Former MTV Networks topper launches digital studio

Van Toffler (pictured, left), former president of Viacom's MTV Networks Music and Logo Group, has launched a digital-first global production outfit called Gunpowder & Sky. (Pictured right: company co-founder and president Floris Bauer)
January 13, 2016

Van Toffler (pictured, left), former president of Viacom’s MTV Networks Music and Logo Group, has launched a digital-first global production outfit billed as “the next disruptor of popular culture.”

In partnership with Otter Media – a joint venture between AT&T and The Chernin Group – and Endemol’s former global head of strategy Floris Bauer (right), Gunpowder & Sky (G&S) will focus on developing and distributing innovative and narrative-driven content between 90 seconds and 90 minutes in length and “independent of form, genre or platform.”

“We consider ourselves to be the defiant lovechild of YouTube, the MCNs and Netflix, mixed with the subversive spirit of those independent creative misfits who altered the planet from their very wired garages,” said Toffler, founder and CEO of Gunpowder & Sky, in a statement.

“Gunpowder & Sky will develop and distribute its own original content as well as support other creators with quality storytelling and unique visual aesthetics that appeal to the global connected generation,” added Bauer, company co-founder and president.

G&S has already secured a number of copro and partnership deals with like-minded firms, including UK-based film and digital production studio Realm Pictures; direct-to-consumer film studio Supergravity Pictures; and producers Bona Fide Productions and Adaptive Studios.

G&S will announce additional partnerships in the coming weeks.

The studio is currently working on a variety of projects that include a four-minute animation series; a slate of digital-first horror movies; 45-second viral videos featuring global sports superstars; and a theatrical film about a high school trip to the White House gone awry.

Toffler stepped down from his post at Viacom after 28 years last February to form his own content production and acquisition company. The former Viacom exec was responsible for overseeing MTV, MTV2, VH1, VH1 Classic, CMT, CMT Pure Country, Logo and their affiliated online services. He was named president of the group in 2004, after serving as president of MTV and MTV2 since 2000.

Toffler and Bauer have previously overseen such projects as Hustle & Flow, Napoleon Dynamite, Jackass, Punk’d, Jersey Shore, Catfish, Behind The Music, VBS.TV and the VMAs. The pair has also launched a number of digital platforms, including and Endemol Beyond.

“Gunpowder & Sky is a bold move for us into what we think is the next great opportunity in content production – producing premium groundbreaking video with up-and-coming, as well as established writers, directors and talent for primary distribution on emerging platforms,” said Peter Chernin, CEO of The Chernin Group.

“Between Van’s incredible track record producing content with emerging innovative talent for young audiences on new platforms and Floris’ strategy and deal-making experience across the global content landscape, this is the perfect team to build the next great independent studio,” he added.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.