During the panel, Batmanglij revealed that he and Marling pitched The OA to "the five typical places," the type of channels that could support a sleek, thoughtful drama. Two even bit, offering them pilot commitments. "But who wants to make a pilot?" Batmanglij joked. Netflix gave them the opportunity to tell their entire story without advertising or rating concerns. They wanted an unrecognizable cast, and they got it. Netflix was hands off, and for a show he regards as "more like a novel," where chapters could cut short or run long, the streaming service was the only place that made sense.
That, and people would actually watch The OA if it was planted in front of them on the Netflix homepage. Batmanglij previously directed the indie films Sound of My Voice and The East, and his limited release experience clearly cut him. "The arthouse is an elitist idea," he said. Traditionally, a filmmaker in his position would make a movie, take it to a festival "small group of people see it," a distributor would buy the movie, and then it would wind up in tiny theaters so determined audiences could drive an hour and a half to see it. "Netflix is the exact opposite. It's so egalitarian."