For Hulu documentary executives Belisa Balaban and Beth Osisek, flexibility is the name of the game as it relates to authenticity and the constant rotation required for investigative projects — a quality they say only enhances impromptu storytelling.
“The thing about nonfiction is that you don’t always know where the story is going to go,” Balaban, Hulu’s senior vice president of original documentaries and improv, told TheWrap this week. Office with a great view“That’s always been the core challenge and opportunity of documentary filmmaking. Of course, it’s both a challenge and an opportunity for us – and then we also have to be centered in our own way – a story may change, or the length may will change, or roles may change, and we support the filmmaker process through that.”
Osisek, vice president of documentaries at Balaban and Hulu, sees feature-length and multi-part documentaries as what Osisek calls “living, breathing organisms” that are sure to change as filmmakers gain access to new sources and discoveries. People groups must collaborate across departments to adjust upcoming schedules, creative materials, and other factors to reflect the latest needs of the project.
That flexibility certainly played a role in the streamer’s July 2022 release of “Victoria’s Secret: Angels and Demons,” when director Matt Turnauer revealed that longtime CEO Les Wee The relationship between Kersner and Jeffrey Epstein, which influences the vast majority of decisions made by the fashion brand, right down to its marketing materials.
Likewise, “Stolen Youth: Inside the Sarah Lawrence Cult,” which traces the origins of a college campus cult and documents its aftermath, was originally intended to document survivor Daniel Levine’s account, but as more sources emerged and the abuser pulled Here, the project was developed and Ray was arrested.
“For a period of time, [in] Every week brings new revelations, and we have to adjust our course,” Balaban said.[It] The main theme at the heart of the story has changed dramatically over time. “
What qualities did you find in the story or characters that would make a good documentary?
Beth Osisek: It’s always about the people at the center of the story—they’re the ones who draw us into the story. The documentary we made has all the similar characteristics of a great scripted story only, it’s even more jaw-dropping because it’s all real. We’re looking for great storytellers who tell people’s stories, give us insight into the world, and bring us into their world in a different way. What’s the universal story we’re always looking for that we’re telling that everyone or most of us can be a part of? We start with smaller stories that lead us to bigger issues.
boil balaban: We’re looking for people who can tell extraordinary stories, who have material that we’ve never seen before and who can show us a side of the story that we’ve never seen before and that will surprise people.
When you start digging into a story, how do your early conversations differentiate what would make a good documentary series from a feature-length documentary?
Balaban: We’ve always encouraged filmmakers to tell their stories as efficiently as possible because both as executives and as viewers we know there are options and we’re always competing for the audience’s time not only good documentaries but great script performance [and] Great podcast. We want to use our audience’s time as efficiently as possible and give them what they want.
Osis: At the end of the day, we’re just trying to grab people’s attention and keep it in the best way we can. Sometimes, it’ll be a feature-length, and sometimes it’ll be a multi-part series. Often it’s the story itself that dictates this.
What have you learned from the industry that you would like to pass on as knowledge to your peers and those who are developing their careers or struggling with a specific problem?
Osis: I’ve always believed that, as a filmmaker, one just needs to know about a situation or a person to be involved in it, or to be interested in it. I realized that as storytellers we have to entertain. It’s our job, we have to get our stories heard. How do you make it fun while leaving people with something substantial to think about when they leave? That’s just good storytelling. I started off very seriously and thought entertainment was a bit of a bad word, and now I realize that’s the way to get more people to watch, and that’s what needs to be embraced.
Balaban: When I first started out as a filmmaker, I felt like I had to fit into a certain mold. In fact, what we’re always looking for is uniqueness — a unique authorship, a unique voice, someone who will resonate with the story they’re telling, someone with a background that makes them a storyteller on a particular topic, ethically . I want the filmmakers to know that door is open for them.