MICHELE NORRIS, host:
Online relationship rules are still being written, but there is one rule that has made an easy transition from the analog to the digital world: Sex sells.
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
As we continue our pre-Valentine's Day All Tech Considered, we're going to hear now about a romantic comedy that never made it to the big screen.
NORRIS: But it has been watched by millions on desktops and laptops.
(Soundbite of movie, "Strictly Sexual")
Ms. KRISTEN KERR (Actor): (as Christi Ann) Okay, you understand, we don't want boyfriends.
Ms. AMBER BENSON (Actor): (as Donna) We don't want boyfriends, we don't want relationships. We want two guys to service us. This is strictly sexual.
BLOCK: The name of the film is "Strictly Sexual." It's about two working professional women who've given up on relationships and decide to employ a couple of gigolos to fill the void.
Mr. STEVIE LONG (Actor/Writer, "Strictly Sexual"): Really the movie is about love and intimacy. And if I were to title the film "Love and Intimacy," I'm sure people would think it was pretentious and never watch it.
NORRIS: Director Stevie Long adds that it's not a porn flick. In fact, there's no nudity in his film whatsoever. [POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: Stevie Long wrote and acted in the film. The director was Joel Viertel.]
BLOCK: Yet "Strictly Sexual" is the most-watched movie of all time on Hulu.com. No stars are in it. And even though it never had a theatrical release, Long got it into the hands of a company that distributes films on cable and the Internet.
Mr. LONG: I woke up one morning and found a dozen or so messages in my Facebook inbox, you know, saying, hey, I just saw this film, and, you know, it really touched me, and I love the way it talks about breakups and relationships. And I just kind of scratched my head, saying, where'd you see my movie? You know, I had no idea actually what Hulu was. God bless, you know, the people who had the foresight to put it up there.
BLOCK: Hulu, for those who still don't know, is an incredibly popular video-streaming Web site. One online measurement service, ComScore, reported that more than a billion videos were watched on Hulu in December 2009 alone.
NORRIS: It carries some movies and a lot of popular television shows, "Lost," "The Office," "Family Guy." Long figures that people stumbled upon his film on Hulu while catching up on their favorite TV shows.
Mr. LONG: We were hoping, you know, in a perfect world, that, you know, it would open on 2,000 screens that, you know, that Harvey Weinstein would put it all across America. We were fortunate in that the timing of the Internet and the ability for people to watch movies came about at the same time. I didn't have an ego about it. As an artist I just wanted my movie to be seen.
NORRIS: Hulu won't provide an exact view count for "Strictly Sexual," but there are enough people watching to make Stevie Long a profit through commercials embedded with the movie.
Mr. LONG: I'll give it to you in these rough terms. The film, the $100,000 film has made 10 times its money.
BLOCK: Enough to fund Long's next independent film.
Mr. LONG: It's a tragic tale. It's about people in the porn industry and the denial that goes on there. We've appropriately titled it "Porn Star: The Ugly Life of a Beautiful Girl." And I'd like to think a lot of people are going to click on that title.
NORRIS: Whether they click on it or not, Long has already proven that the Internet is a place where independent filmmakers can thrive.
BLOCK: If the title is right.
(Soundbite of music)
BLOCK: Don't forget to go to our All Tech Considered blog where you'll find quirky tech stories you can't help but read.
NORRIS: That's npr.org/alltech.
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