Hulu is digging deeper into the indie film world with plans to launch a section on the Internet vid provider's home base dedicated to documentary pics.
The move comes after Hulu programmers were impressed by the success the streaming vid platform has had in had in recent months with feature-length docus including "The Life and Times of Harvey Milk," the Bush-centric "Crawford" and "Hoop Dreams."
As of this (Thursday) morning, about 100 docu pics will be added to Hulu's archive, including Morgan Spurlock's "Super Size Me"; and recent film fest faves "Kicking It," about a soccer competish for homeless people in South Africa; "Confessions of a Super Hero," about the costumed denizens of Hollywood Boulevard; and "DIG!," about the love-hate relationship between members of alterna-rock bands Brian Jonestown Massacre and Dandy Warhols. Hulu's trove of docu fare will also include a range of TV productions.
Hulu execs say they've been pleasantly surprised to see the viewership stats for docus climb as they've added more intriguing titles. Docs like "Crawford" and "Harvey Milk" have also generated a huge amount of chatter in Hulu's comments section. A Q&A with "Crawford" helmer David Modigliani also generated heavy traffic for Hulu, indicating that there's a clear opportunity for Hulu to serve as a forum for docu lovers to interact with filmmakers, according to Andy Forssell, senior veep of content acquisition and distribution.
"'Crawford'woke us up to an opportunity we have to highlight films that offer great content but don't always have the marketing budgets to make that connection with the audience," Forssell said. "We can play a great part in making those connections and offering filmmakers reach in a very cost-effective way."
Indie film in general is an obvious growth area for Hulu, now that it's clear that film lovers will sit still and watch a feature on a web-streaming platform, Forssell said. Indie pix tend to be less encumbered with long-term rights deals, and they're less concerned with waiting out free Internet distribution until the initial round of DVD sales have dried up. The anecdotal evidence from "Crawford's" run on Hulu is that the online exposure gave a nice lift to its DVD sales.
As part of the docu push, Hulu is expanding the volume of business with doc-friendly indie sales agents and distribs such as Cinetic, Cinelan, B-Side and SnagFilms, Forssell said. The doc push will also be complemented with new fan-centric features on the new Hulu Friends social networking element that the service launched last week as Hulu marked the one-year anniversary of its public launch.
"We have a ready-made audience for these movies," he said. "We've got people who are passionate about TV and film, and that's a great fit for documentaries...We're finding a really receptive group of filmmakers and distributors who are (eager) to experiment and use all means to distribution to connect with their audience.
Among the other docus joining Hulu's lineup today:
Impaler: Jonathon "The Impaler" Sharkey threw himself into the race for Minnesota Governor on January 13, 2006. His thirteen point platform included helping farmers, improving the public school system, and advocating for better benefits for United States veterans. However, it was his "coming out" to the media as a Hecate Witch, Satanic Dark Priest and Sanguinary Vampire that grabbed Jonathon national and international attention. His candidacy marked the beginning of the largest amount of media coverage ever given to an unknown third party candidate running for Governor in American history.
Keeper of the Kohn: Many challenges are ahead for Peter Kohn, a beloved collegiate lacrosse field manager who is believed to be autistic. As the team seeks a national championship, Peter must choose between his allegiance to the student athletes and his devotion to a cancer-stricken friend, all while reacting emotionally to his upcoming retirement. Can anyone, let alone Peter, negotiate such dramatic changes?
Into the Tsangpo Gorge:In a remote corner of Tibet, seven young world-class kayakers take on the most feared whitewater river on earth, through the 18,000 ft. deep Tsangpo Gorge. A raging torrent that drops 9,000 ft in 150 miles, it is know as the "Everest of Rivers," and is considered the last great adventure prize left on the planet- indeed, the Explorers Club called it one of the great expeditions of modern times. "Into the Tsangpo Gorge" was honored as one of the Top 20 Adventure Films of All Time" by Men's Journal, and originally aired on NBC
Farther than the Eye Could See: An intimate look inside one of the most successful Mount Everest expeditions ever. This award-winning film beautifully captures the emotion, humor and drama of blind climber Erik Weihenmayer's historic ascent as well as four other remarkable 'firsts' on Mount Everest. "Though there were questions about the wisdom of the attempt before the team even left home, the clear and definitive success of the expedition proves what people working together, with a common vision, can accomplish." - Michael Brown, Director
Cracked Not Broken: Lisa was raised in the right part of town, she went to the right schools, had the right friends. But somewhere along the way something went terribly wrong. At age 37 Lisa is an estranged mother of one, and a crack addict who prostitutes herself to help support her drug habit. Get a glimpse into the harsh reality and chaotic lifestyle of drug addiction. This film will force you to examine all of your stereotypes about the addicted - in a sometimes shocking way.