Life at Hulu
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Life at Hulu

The Making of a Hulu Original — The Handmaid’s Tale

Since its premiere in 2017, The Handmaid’s Tale has gripped audiences across the globe with its powerful storytelling. Over the past eight weeks, Season 4 has had viewers across the United States glued to their streaming devices every Wednesday, eager to watch what will happen next.

To celebrate the success of Season 4 and as we prepare for Season 5, we’re giving you the opportunity to hear from Hulu team members who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to bring The Handmaid’s Tale and more Hulu Originals to viewers. Read below to learn more about the role some of our teams played in bringing the series to life and how they work together across the business to create an optimal streaming experience for viewers.

Meet the Teams Behind The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu:

Content Development with Kate Smith:

Kate Smith, Creative Executive, Content Originals

My name is Kate Smith and I’ve been at Hulu for six years. I’m a Creative Executive on our Content Development team working on the development and production of numerous Hulu Originals.

My favorite part of the job is sourcing and building ideas or IP (intellectual property) and then attaching and collaborating with world-class visionaries. When it comes to The Handmaid’s Tale, our team was responsible for optioning and developing the original book and packaging it with Bruce Miller, Elisabeth Moss, and other producers and directors.

Content Insights with Vin Taglialatela:

I’m Vin and I’ve worked on Hulu’s Content Insights team for just over six years. My team provides information to help with the development, series maintenance, and marketing strategy for all of our Hulu Originals content. We also support Hulu’s Content Partnerships team in their acquisition strategy.

Vin Taglialatela, Team Lead, Content Insights

Over the years, my team has done a lot of research on The Handmaid’s Tale, starting back in 2016 with a positioning study to help uncover the target audience most interested by the show’s concept and to pinpoint what elements would drive that interest and any potential barriers. It was through the positioning study that we learned our potential audience was very interested in the dystopian setting of Gilead, how the world got that way, and especially the exploration of gender roles in society. Since then, we’ve talked to viewers after each season to understand their reactions as the series progresses, what characters and storylines are resonating, and what they would like to see in the future. All of these studies inform the marketing strategy for future seasons.

Originals Content Operations, featuring Tiffany McMichael:

I’m Tiffany and I’ve been at Hulu for over five years working as a Manager on the Originals Content Operations team. I like to think of myself and my team as the little elves behind the scenes, making sure Hulu Originals launch on platform on time and ensuring that other departments have the appropriate assets necessary to do their jobs.

Tiffany McMichael, Manager, Content Operations

My team worked with The Handmaid’s Tale production team from the beginning, advising them on camera capture and helping test various aspects of their delivery to make sure everything will look its best on the Hulu platform. We then shepherded everything through quality control and delivery, ensuring we met our launch deadlines and that we received all deliverables for current and future uses of the project. Our Content Operations team is dedicated to high quality for all aspects of the user experience for Hulu Originals and I think it shows in the product.

Quality Control Operations with Jay Johnson:

I’m Jay and I’ll be celebrating my 10-year Hulu work anniversary in August. During my time at Hulu, I’ve shuffled around a bit, but have largely been focused on Hulu Originals since my first year (remember Up To Speed?).

Jay Johnson, Manager, Content Operations

I currently manage the Mastering and Quality Control Operations for Hulu Originals. In my role, I oversee quality control for each and every episode of The Handmaid’s Tale and additional Hulu Originals, meaning I get to see most episodes before almost anyone else, but I also need to watch them multiple times and often out of order. I also publish each episode onto the service. My favorite part of my job is selecting the on-site thumbnails for each episode. Summarizing an episode, with only a single frame (and spoiler free!) is both fun and a bit of a challenge.

Post Production with Celine Duong:

Celine Duong, Senior Post Production Manager

I’m Celine and I just celebrated my five-year Hulu work anniversary. When it comes to bringing The Handmaid’s Tale to Hulu, my team has been involved from day one, collaborating closely with multiple partners such as Content Operations, Production, Development, The Handmaid’s Tale post team, and MGM. I also help teams such as Marketing and PR acquire assets for press, events, and agency partners.

This is just a snapshot of the incredible teams and team members working together, across the business, and behind the scenes to bring our Hulu Originals to viewers. Additionally, bringing The Handmaid’s Tale to life would not be possible without the support of our Public Relations, Marketing, Business Development, and Finance teams.

The Series’ Impact on Hulu Team Members:

Similar to how viewers across the world have built a personal connection with The Handmaid’s Tale and its characters, so have our Hulu team members! We asked them to share a bit more about what the show has meant to them, as well as their favorite memories involving The Handmaid’s Tale, both inside and outside of the office, and their thoughts on the latest season.

What impact has the show made on you?

  • Jay: I’ve always been proud to work at Hulu, but working on a show like The Handmaid’s Tale was next level for me. Seeing the way people’s eyes light up when I tell them I work on it, even if they don’t understand exactly what it is that I do, is pretty awesome.
  • Tiffany: Beyond making me very proud to have worked on some aspect of it, the subject matter of the show, particularly the first couple of seasons, shows the importance of fighting for what you hold dear. June is a character that goes through a lot with a single-minded pursuit of reuniting with her daughter. As a mother of two girls myself, I really understand that drive.

What is your favorite memory involving The Handmaid’s Tale, inside or outside of the Hulu office?

Hulu team members hosted an Emmy’s celebration to congratulate each other on the Emmy’s sweep in 2017.
  • Kate: The Emmy sweep is a career-high, but one of my other favorite memories inside the office was our first production “Show & Tell” meeting in Season 1. We were presented with each production department’s visual plans. Being such a huge fan of the book and having imagined the world of Gilead, seeing the team present the “Handmaid Red” hue for costumes gave me chills.
  • Celine: My favorite memory is working on and attending our live score event for the Season 1 finale. I really enjoyed collaborating with our Content Operations team and the composer, Adam Taylor, to figure out how to best host the event technically. I loved attending the tech check, watching the orchestra set up, and hearing them practice a few scenes. It was an event for the Television Academy, but there were also many Hulu team members in attendance. I’ll never forget hearing the public’s reaction to the episode, as well as my colleagues’! Being able to watch the final episode, with a live orchestra performing the score, was truly such an incredible and unique opportunity.
  • Vin: My favorite memory, hands down, is when the show swept the Emmys in 2017. Going into the night, there was the feeling that it would win a few of the awards it was nominated for. But as the momentum kept building, the energy and mood in the room was one of the most exciting I’ve ever experienced at Hulu. To make history as the first streaming series to take home Best Drama Series was the cherry on top!

What did you think about Season 4? And what are you most excited about for Season 5?

  • Kate: Every episode of Season 4 took my breath away. I particularly loved seeing Elisabeth Moss’ directorial debut and how she captured some of the best work of our actors. In Season 5, I am excited to see how our characters, particularly the women, continue to be connected in so many ways, even if they find themselves in completely different circumstances outside of Gilead.
  • Celine: Season 4 is what the fans have been waiting for! It’s been fun to see people’s reactions and getting texts from friends with a lot of exclamation points. This show is so well done, as always, but I especially loved the sound design and mix. It made the scenes that much more dramatic. I’m excited to see where the team takes Season 5. They always have a great way to surprise us and develop some twisted plot lines, so I don’t think anyone will be disappointed.
Handmaids made a visit to Hulu’s Santa Monica HQ.

Thank you to all of our team members for the incredible work you do each day to bring our Hulu Originals to viewers and for sharing your experience working on The Handmaid’s Tale. We can’t wait to see what Season 5 has in store.

And if you haven’t already, be sure to check out The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4, now streaming on Hulu.

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