When the partners behind Indigenous Media crossed paths with filmmaker Emmett McDermott, they knew his extreme, short-form documentary format had potential to be something big (in a small package).
“It’s a very simple concept: how people live their lives,” Rodrigo Garcia, co-CEO at Indigenous, told StreamDaily. “It’s portraits of people, whether that’s people who have curious professions, or unusual or weird habits or lifestyles.”
Indigenous partnered with McDermott to develop the minimalist concept into a new online documentary franchise, 60 Second Docs, which lives mainly on Facebook, with some episodes uploaded to YouTube, Twitter, Vid.Me and Instagram.
In less than a week, more than a dozen episodes have been rolled out, profiling people such as a former dental technician who goes by the name of Father Sebastiaan and travels the world fitting people with custom vampire teeth; 20-year-old Ray Demnitz, who discusses why he appreciates having a stutter; high school football player John Krahn who, at seven feet tall and 440 lbs is one of the largest players to don pads and a helmet; and Shirley Curry, a 79-year-old grandmother who loves video games. The episode centered on Curry is already one of the most popular videos, with 2.2 million views and more than 40,000 shares on Facebook alone.
Garcia said he found the format similar to the popular Humans of New York brand, which started out as a photography project from the mind of Brandon Stanton and has since evolved to a massive online franchise, with 17 million followers on its original Facebook page and spin-offs in major cities like Paris and Toronto.
“The internet is really a great breeding ground for ideas. Of course, shorts and short documentaries have been done before, but we wanted to take this idea of how well can you get to know someone and have them tell their story in 60 seconds.”
The idea for distribution across social media channels with free access for viewers came from the inherently social nature of the series, Garcia said. “We wanted to do it in a way where you can easily cross paths with it wherever you are, whatever platform you’re on.”
The focus is on shareability and easy discoverability, he said — and while Garcia said Indigenous has been approached by other platforms (he wouldn’t say which ones) to offer an expanded version of the series, he said the company likes the 60-second format and plans to stick with it.
There is no set number of episodes for 60 Second Docs, but Garcia said the indie prodco plans on experimenting with the format — while always keeping episodes at one minute.
“We might do periods where we focus on a particular theme, and we’re also focusing on attracting a variety of filmmakers. We’d like to see new filmmakers or seasoned filmmakers try to take on an episode.” Garcia said he even plans on directing some episodes himself.
“Documentary has never really been my thing — but with this really shareable, relateable subject, it’s just such an appetizing format.”