By Evan DeSimone
Hartman is one of a new breed of filmmakers who’ve managed to leverage diverse support systems like Discovery’s New Form Digital content incubator and Vimeo’s On Demand platform to create higher budget and higher quality projects than are usually possible for independent digital creators.
Hartman was one of the first round of creators selected for New Form Digital’s pilot program. Like other members of New Form’s inaugural creator class he’s an established digital creator, an influencer with over 1.8 million subscribers on his YouTube channel. He’s also a filmmaker with a vision larger than YouTube’s typical monetization strategy can support.
“A lot of things have come together,” Hartman told VideoInk of the process of bringing “The Parallax Theory” to frutition, “a lot of creative, a lot of opportunity, and it’s really nice to see the whole new media platform opening up to the idea of a dramatic narrative rather than just comedy based influencer films.”
That’s something Vimeo has put front and center. By backing long form projects like “ The Parallax Theory” as well as “Culture High” and critically acclaimed web series “High Maintenance” the VOD streamer has been making inroads that allow more mature content to proliferate in the digital space.
The pilot for “The Parallax Theory” is a far cry from the vlogs and challenge videos that made Hartman famous. It’s a television quality short-form pilot including aerial cinematography and show quality visual effects. New Form bet on Hartman’s creative intuition and provided the jumpstart of resources and advice needed to make a product that wouldn’t typically be possible for a YouTube creator. That initial investment in a quality pilot is what caught the eye of Vimeo. The streaming platform, which has been rapidly building a niche for itself in premium content, opted to take the pilot to a six chapter series.
Like its immediate antecedent, “Oscars Hotel For Fantastical Creatures,” which found life in much the same way, “ The Parallax Theory” represents a new breed of hybrid digital entertainment products created by digital stars, backed by professional grade studios, and a streaming platform with a successful monetization strategy. For Hartman it’s the studio that brings it all together. The filmmaker told Video Ink” “The first step in creating quality entertainment is to find someone who truly wants to make a quality product. New Form Digital really proved to be one of those rare few. Together we feel we have created something quite unique and compelling.”
As for the fear that some creators express about stepping away from the platforms that made them famous, Hartman doesn’t see it as a problem. ““It’s not as big a deal as people think it is. YouTube’s been a great place and a place I fit in quite nicely. It’s where I can connect with my audience, but from day one I’ve been telling them that I want to entertain them for a more traditional format.” For Sawyer stepping away from YouTube to partner with a platform like Vimeo is a move toward producing content that breaks to digital mold and embraces traditional styles that might feel off-limits on another platform.
Hartman told VideoInk that Vimeo’s that Vimeo’s on-demand platform holds a special value proposition for digital creators, the prospect of having your work valued as a professional commodity. “There’s something about paying for content. When you pay $10 for a movie and you go to a theatre you enjoy it because you’ve invested something in it. You’re looking for a return on that investment whether it’s (in) laughter or enjoyment or happiness. “