John Hegeman, Distant Corners

Business type: Independent studio focusing on original sci-fi, horror, fantasy and cult media

Number of employees: 14

URL: www.distantcorners.com

Job Title: President & CEO Distant Corners Entertainment Group

First ‘Net experience: Working on the “Stargate” Web site

Biggest challenge: Trying to push the online experience as a unique form of entertainment and still make it accessible to the Internet community

Favorite bookmark: SissyFight.com; because “It is an example of how the Internet is a truly unique platform for entertainment”

* * *

Last year’s surprise summer hit “The Blair Witch Project” freaked out not only the audience, but also the studios. Execs could no longer ignore the Internet’s power to connect and motivate millions of movie fans. The ultra-low budget film took in $150 million, and at least some of the marketing success was attributed to the Web-generated hype of John Hegeman.

Hegeman ankled his post as marketing chief at Artisan last spring to launch his horror, sci-fi and fantasy Web site DistantCorners.com in partnership with former Walt Disney Studios topper Joe Roth. But don’t expect Hegeman to be up to all of his old tricks with his new Internet endeavor, which bowed in June.

“I don’t look at DistantCorners and think I’m going to copy ‘Blair Witch,’ ” Hegeman says. “But I have an inherent philosophy that I apply to my projects: Don’t try and shove a project down somebody’s throat. Utilize more of a conditioning process so people will be into what you’re doing for the long haul.”

This “conditioning process,” Hegeman explains, is counter-intuitive to a time-tested Hollywood success strategy.

“Don’t try and explode with your message like you would with a summer movie where you spend $35 million and make it overwhelming for you audience,” Hegeman says. “A site needs to be evolving and involving to create a communal feel. That’s what we tried to do with ‘Blair Witch.’ When you are trying to build a relationship with people it’s often better to do it under the radar of all the competitive noise to really connect with your audience.”

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