Viral internet documentary series Channel 5 is getting the HBO treatment

Technology
Andrew Callaghan is the host of Channel 5 videos. | Image: Channel 5

Internet documentary series Channel 5 has taken viewers to gross pick-up artist conventions, Miami Beach during spring break, and Ukraine shortly after Russia’s invasion of the country.

Now, it’s clear the popular show has gotten the attention of the film industry and executives at more established entities. HBO has acquired Channel 5’s dispatch from the January 6th insurrection, Variety reports, and A24 is producing the documentary. Andrew Callaghan, who’s fashioned himself as a gonzo journalist-type figure while hosting the Channel 5 videos, will serve as director and executive producer of the documentary, along with Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim of Tim & Eric. The film will follow Callaghan’s “wild RV journey through America in the months leading up to the January 6 Capitol Riot,” according to Variety.

The small Channel 5 team travels around the country, documenting both bizarre gatherings and timely news events. One week, they’re in the parking lot of a Phish concert; the next, Callaghan is interviewing insurrectionists in prison. The creators also have a widely popular Patreon account, where subscribers pay to access exclusive content and support Channel 5 operations. The channel has more than 2 million subscribers on YouTube and more than 500,000 Instagram followers.

Creators breaking into more traditional industry spaces isn’t totally new. Viral TikTok songs have originated on the app only to soon start playing on the radio and pop up on the Billboard Hot 100. And earlier this year, The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical, created first on TikTok, won a Grammy — the first such project to do so. But Channel 5 inking a deal with HBO is still interesting, with Callaghan occupying a space at the intersection of content creator, independent journalist, and now, filmmaker with backing from major entertainment companies.

“I think I provide a gateway to engagement with reporting for people who don’t watch the news,” Callaghan told Nieman Lab earlier this year. “People who don’t watch the news watch me. People who watch the news don’t watch me.”

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