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First Look Eyes Urban Video Market

23 Nov, 2002 By: Kurt Indvik

First Look Home Entertainment is embarking on a new series of urban music videos, with the launch last week of American Rap Stars, a documentary featuring live performances and behind-the-scenes looks at such hip hop celebrities as Run DMC, Snoop Dogg, Jay Z, Ludacris, Jamie Foxx and Cedric the Entertainer.

The DVD retails at $19.98, while the VHS is priced for rental.

The 80-minute American Rap Stars will follow a strategy by First Look to make “cast-driven” documentaries that combine music by the artists with a heavy emphasis on a documentary look at the stars, their lifestyles and the hip-hop music scene in general. American Rap Stars features performances, interviews and footage from the streets and clubs of London, New York and Los Angeles. It looks at hip-hop music in the post-9/11 era and how it has affected the music and the business, said Bill Bromiley, SVP, sales and distribution.

Bromiley noted that First Look's approach to focusing on talent that fans want to see and learn more about meant developing in-depth insight into, and contacts in, the world of urban music that the primarily art-house/foreign film company had previously not had.

“We know there is a market for this kind of product if you do it right,” Bromiley said. “We have hired people in this world to tell us what they want to see and who they want to see.”

The challenge, added Bromiley, is to create a video that provides the right balance of music and documentary to appeal to the target audience (white male, ages 16–25). That combination allows for the title to be slotted primarily as a music title for music stories while specialty video stores can merchandise it as a documentary or music video, he said. Still, the emphasis is on hip-hop, and Bromiley said that future titles will have more music content emphasis.

Even as First Look was hosting a launch party for American Rap Stars last week in Los Angeles, with hip-hop stars such as Spinderella of Salt-N-Pepa in attendance, film crews were busy filming the event as a segment for the next First Look hip-hop title (no street date announced yet), taping interviews with stars as well as some of the guest performances of other hip-hop artists performing at the party.

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