IRL Recap: Long vs Short Narrative Content Online

By February 20, 2017Blog

February’s Web Series IRL line-up featured three comedies: Lucky Country, The Wedding Sisters and Echo Chamber.

The panel discussion raised differing opinions in regards to the creators’ goals, strategies and approaches to their comedies.

Lucky Country follows a bunch of suburban misfits’ extraordinarily mundane adventures. The millennial comedy is about being too old to still live with your parents and the banalities of the inner suburbs. The series was originally developed as a 30 minute pilot for TV, however, ended up being condensed into a web series.

“The goal of the series was to gain views and followers and see if people liked it,” said series creator, Serah Nathan.

Serah produced a pitch trailer for Lucky Country which resulted in a successful crowdfunding campaign.

While the Lucky Country episodes could be watched casually or out of order, the story does follow a narrative arc and the episodes are numbered.  

“We wanted viewers to become fans and care about the characters; we wanted it to become something people ‘fangirled’ over,” Serah said of the choice to make a narrative series. Her ultimate goal is still for Lucky Country to become a TV series as it was originally conceptualised. 

Lucky Country and The Wedding Sisters share a common theme of having a loose enough narrative structure that makes it easy for viewers to jump in and watch at any episode. “People can just stumble across an episode on Facebook,” Gordon said.

The Wedding Sisters is a series about a highly dysfunctional family business trying to create the perfect wedding. The vlog style series is helmed by husband and wife duo, Samantha Napier, writer and creator and Gordon Napier, director and editor.

Additionally, the two found this concept to work well with the format of their series, in which the characters are “talking” to the audience.

The vlog style lent itself to being an efficient shoot as two or three episodes could be shot in one day and the one set could be used for multiple locations.

“We allocated time for improv to try different things,” Samantha said of being economical with their time and resources. The lead trio of The Wedding Sisters had a background in improv comedy and Samantha was keen to make use of their skills.

On the other end of the spectrum, Echo Chamber, created by Justin Olstein and Carla Silbert was intentionally made as self-contained episodes that could be watched as one-offs.

The series follows thirty-something couple Jack and Aviva, encountering the everyday moral quandaries of being a creative person in the inner-city where everyone else is also a creative person in the inner-city. It is self described as an exploration of the hypocrisies of the everyday, and what it’s like to be self-righteous in public while being wracked with neuroses in private.

The episodes are not numbered nor do they follow an order. Co-creator Justin who was in attendance at the IRL panel said, “People don’t watch episodes in the order they’re released.

There was no intention for character arcs or a narrative across the episodes.”

Echo Chamber was developed specifically for Facebook and was a “definite fit for the web”. Justin explained that the series was written to explore their dry, awkward and satirical humour and was an opportunity to test how an audience would react to it.

The choice to release the episodes entirely on Facebook as opposed to YouTube was due to the share-ability of the platform and the way that their friends could engage with the content.

Serah’s decided to release Lucky Country on YouTube because subscribers gained on the channel are more valuable. Facebook is used to post teasers and other content, however, the main goal is to drive viewers to watch the series on YouTube.

The Q&A finished off with the host, Hayley Adams, putting each of the panellists on the spot to share a piece of advice to their fellow web series creators.

Justin Olstein, Echo Chamber: “Have a sense of who your audience is”.

Samantha Napier, The Wedding Sisters: “Make use of your cast during production and dedicate time to create social media content.”

Gordon Napier, The Wedding Sisters: “Cast more women.”

Sarah Nathan, Lucky Country: “If you want to put something out there, just do it. Take ownership of your project to make it the best you can.”

Shout out to Hayley and Alyce Adams for their continuous work on IRL! Keep an eye out on their page for more info about next month’s meet up on Thursday 9th March.