Vice has become more of a media empire than a magazine, growing from the reigning hipster publication to an organization that includes online video, an HBO series and expanding film plans.
While Vice still covers fashion, drugs and music, it has also matured into an outlet for broader, ambitious domestic and international coverage that brings the same irreverent, fearless tone to everything from North Korea to internet celebrity cats in "Lil Bub & Friendz." Overseeing these cinematic ventures is Eddy Moretti, who directed Vice's first venture into feature films back in 2007 with documentary "Heavy Metal in Baghdad."
While Vice is already carving out a place for itself in the nonfiction world, the company also made a tentative step into the realm of fiction filmmaking with 2009 Sundance selection "White Lightnin'" (co-written by Moretti and Vice co-founder/CEO Shane Smith). For Moretti, one side of their scripted plans can be seen in the upcoming "Fishing Without Nets," which isn't far from the news coverage they're already doing. On the other? He can see them producing something like "Spring Breakers." According to Moretti, "Youth culture, visionary direction -- those are the two poles of what we'd like to do."
As if there's ever been reason to doubt Vice's sense of brand/family solidity, Moretti cited the day he got his Vice ring as a high point. What is that? "A ring that says 'Vice' on it," he laughed.
Vice moved from Canada to New York in 1999, and Moretti joined the company in 2000, just in time for two major events -- September 11 and the bursting of the dot-com bubble. The former had particular impact for the publication: "We just thought the world was ending," he said. "But this moment of incredible apprehension was followed by this explosion of creativity… and maniacal partying."
Moretti admitted that "it's a high-class problem to have," but said the biggest challenge Vice faces is how to avoid the old startup mentality of rapid expansion and to "keep making content that we believe in while growing at the right pace and bringing in the right amazing people who are going to be with us for a long time."
Vice has "Lil Bub & Friendz" on the festival circuit after a world premiere at Tribeca in April, while Snoop Lion doc "Reincarnated" was released in theaters in March. Next up will be a scripted film, "Fishing Without Nets," expanded from Cutter Hodierne's 2012 Sundance grand jury prize-winning short about Somali pirates, a topic Vice has long had interest in. "We tried to go to Somalia a couple times to shoot a documentary there," Moretti admitted. "It turned out to be pretty dangerous."