Moguldom Media is expanding into the film business, The Hollywood Reporter has learned exclusively.
After seven years building a group of pop culture web sites targeting African Americans into Moguldom Media, with ad sales this year of more expected to exceed $15 million, founder and CEO Jamarlin Martin is launching Moguldom Films, with ambitious plans to produce edgy, news-driven documentaries he calls “docutainment.”
The initial plan is to complete six documentaries this year at a cost of about $200,000 each, starting with Gunland, about the impact of gun violence on the African American community in Chicago. Martin anticipates making 15 documentaries a year beginning in 2014.
Martin has tapped Barion Grant, producer of the 2003 documentary Tupac Resurrection, to run Moguldom Films.
While the privately-held company, which operates pop culture web sites including Bossip, Lossip, Mommynoire and Hip Hop Wired, plans to self-finance the documentaries, Martin has also launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $25,000 toward the cost of the first documentary. As of Thursday he had $339 pledged with 39 days to go.
“That’s just a test for one specific film,” says Martin. “We believe this is an opportunity to allow our audience to have skin in the game, to be a part of the process. It’s better that we go to our audience than to Silicon Valley or JP Morgan Chase. If we can leverage our loyalty with our audience and have that authenticity behind us, we just believe that makes the product and organization stronger.”
Martin plans to market his documentaries on the Moguldom websites, and make them available on iTunes or other portals, before selling them to cable or pay TV or to a streaming service like Netflix, Hulu or Amazon, and then on VOD and Home Video.
Martin was a currency trader before launching his Internet businesses, and remains a believer in using research and data.
“Our audience is mostly over 30,” says Martin, “so we believe we have an educated demographic. We ran studies and surveys against our audience where essentially they’re confirming our third party research that they want to see documentaries.”
Martin began by producing short videos for the websites. “We built a team up that just focused on video,” he said. “When we think about what is the long term vision of the company, we see ourselves going directionally into the next generation smart TVs where our users will download a smart television app to watch our documentaries.”
“There are many fascinating and important stories to tell,” adds Grant, “and so many new ways to bring them to today’s audiences.”
Martin says there is not much competition in the niche he hopes to fill.
“When you look at things like documentaries,” says Martin, “you say ‘hey how many companies are investing in documentaries period’? ‘How many companies are investing in documentaries for African Americans’? So there’s not really a competitor out there.”