LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - He made his name on the quirky fast food documentary “Super Size Me,” and recently peered inside the wacky world of product placement in movies.
So, it makes some sense that Morgan Spurlock’s newest premiere might seem kooky because it won’t be in movie theaters or on TV, but on a computer at Web television service Hulu.
“A Day in the Life” is a series of six documentaries about celebrities as diverse as Virgin Group boss Richard Branson and Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am. It debuts on Wednesday as the Web TV service’s first, long-form original program.
Spurlock does not see the move from film theaters and TV to the Web as all that unusual. In fact, he told Reuters it was more of a practical move in keeping with modern times and, in fact, had given him greater creative license for the project he said has been on his mind for some five years.
“I’ve tried to go down the network or film route with it many times, and I thought, if it was never right for them, it must be right for someone else,” Spurlock told Reuters.
For its part, Hulu said the director has a large and loyal fan base on the Web TV service, and it knows who they are because Hulu can track the video streams.
Much like friends on social networking website Facebook, Hulu users often organize themselves around specific events and spread word-of-mouth publicity. So for Hulu, a show by Spurlock marketed directly to his fans who would then help promote it seemed like a strong formula for success.
“It’s not only a cool idea and we have faith in Morgan, but we also know his audience is there,” said Andy Forsell, senior vice president of content acquisition for Hulu.
It makes some sense that users of Hulu, which shows repeats of TV shows, movies and other videos, would be fans of Spurlock because many of them are early adopters of new technology that resides on the edge of mainstream TV. And Spurlock’s films, TV shows and production tactics are nothing if not on the edge.
In his 2004 breakthrough movie “Super Size Me,” he filmed himself on a month-long diet of nothing but food from McDonald’s, resulting in weight gain and health problems that was followed by the restaurant making menu changes.
In his most recent film, “The Greatest Movie Ever Sold,” he told a story that skewered product placement in entertainment, and he financed it, rather amusingly, by product placement.
Spurlock said that the low cost of making the 22-minute long documentaries for Hulu meant less financial risk for the company and greater creative freedom for him.
“A Day In the Life” pretty much says it all about the documentaries. The feature covering Branson follows him for 24 hours as he jets from a banquet with Queen Elizabeth and President Obama in London, to Chicago where he works the media for a Virgin Airways launch, then back across the Atlantic.
Audiences not only see Branson as corporate pitchman for his business, but also glimpse his abundant energy and drive for success backed by his trademark sense of humor.
Five other TV-length tales of hip hop star will.i.am, Canadian comedian Russell Peters, DJ Girl Talk, ballerina Misty Copeland and artist Mr. Brainwash will roll out weekly.
Spurlock said all his subjects share a sense of purpose, are goal oriented, have a unique vision of the world and know exactly where they fit into it.
“I think it’s amazing to see how grounded all these people are,” he said.
Editing by Jill Serjeant