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Facebook is putting a human touch on its new video efforts.
The social network has ordered a 12-episode docuseries from Brandon Stanton, the man behind the popular photo blog Humans of New York. The half-hour series will also be executive produced by Julie Goldman, the Oscar-nominated documentary producer behind such films as Life, Animated and Weiner.
Much like the blog, the Humans of New York Facebook series will showcase intimate, candid and often surprising conversations with strangers on the streets of New York City. Stanton tells The Hollywood Reporter that he began working on the project about four years ago and has, over 400 days of filming, interviewed more than 1,200 people. “It seemed to be a natural evolution to do some interviews on film,” he says, adding that the people featured in the series will be new to the Humans of New York universe.
Goldman and her Motto Pictures production shingle teamed up with Stanton through mutual connections and was immediately struck by the material he had collected. “The key to all film, really, and certainly to the documentary films we do, is storytelling,” she says. “This is storytelling at its core, at its most visceral. That really appealed to us. People really open themselves up in a way that continues to surprise me.”
Stanton began Humans of New York in 2010 and has featured portraits and interviews of nearly 10,000 New Yorkers in the seven years since. The blog has also expanded into two New York Times best-selling books and a multiplatform social media presence. On Facebook alone, Humans of New York has more than 18 million followers. It also has a large Instagram presence, with 7 million followers.
Humans of New York is one of the handful of shows that Facebook is funding for its new Watch video tab, which it announced earlier this month. Watch is currently rolling out and features a mix of short-form content — produced by video publishers such as Group Nine’s Thrillist and The Dodo and Vox Media — as well a handful of signature, funded projects that are longer in length. These include a competition series, Last State Standing, from American Ninja Warriors producer A. Smith and Co. and others.
Stanton says that he worked on the project independently for a long time but ultimately saw the opportunity to work with Facebook, where he first built much of his audience. “Facebook has had a huge role in the creation of Humans of New York,” he adds, noting that he was also attracted to the global reach of Facebook since two-thirds of his audience is international.
Humans of New York will be available next week. New episodes will be released weekly. The Watch platform continues to roll out to users.
Watch the trailer below.
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